Open Invitation

This month my article is different.

The Webmag is going to be announcing the first of what we hope will be a series of seminars where professionals from all aspects of caring for and supporting children and young people can meet to discuss and debate what concerns, frightens or amazes them about children or their care or anything else that takes their fancy.

I have already received a number of emails from concerned and curious individuals who wish to be included in the forthcoming events. Some of them stated that they were so busy working to support children and young people that they no longer had time to catch up on latest trends or points of view. I wondered about this and came to the conclusion that this was probably a very accurate statement for most people actively involved in the business of care and education.

It is readily acknowledged in this country that we now work longer hours, are entitled to shorter holidays and receive penny-pinching attempts by employers towards our continuous professional development. This may be a generalised statement, but is it really wide of the mark?

Too busy to know what is happening

If I use myself as an example, I have now been self-employed and self-motivated for three years. Before that, I variously managed large teams of teachers and trainers for child care and education or practitioners in national day care settings. The hours I worked in any one week would be in excess of an average of sixty and my so called leisure time was often begrudged by employers and employees alike.

There is a danger within senior management that we make ourselves or allow ourselves to be almost indispensable and yet we know that if we were not available, the world would still go on being the place it has always been and no one would necessarily end their existence just because we were not there.

By the end of my time as an employed person, I was beyond exhaustion. I felt de-skilled and incompetent and considered that I had very few friends or allies within the industries where I worked. I experienced the most appalling feeling of bereavement when I left my last job. I lost all confidence in my considerable ability and knowledge and for a time could not contemplate re-entering the competitive market. Fortunately I had more friends and allies than I thought and with their help and insistence, I eventually believed what they told me about myself and moved forward.

My point is that, during those pressurised years, I struggled to keep abreast and make sense of trends, research and government strategies. The struggle ensued mainly because the information was often fed to me in bite-size chunks and I am a (very) mature, holistic thinker. I like to see the whole thing first. Snippets of information don’t do it for me.  The strategic, directive  information appeared to be very knee-jerk in its application and expectation and thus placed more pressure on teams of professionals struggling to provide consistent and appropriate levels of good practice.

I always wanted to make shared information very clear to everyone within my teams but sometimes this was impossible because I didn’t have enough background information and context to make sense of it myself. There is a limit to how much research an individual can carry out in a restricted amount of time and there were times when I was short of the mark.

Sharing and listening

The proposed seminars may be an ideal way to share information about trends and changing job roles. There are so many wonderful developments within this enormous industry at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing about each one.

For example, I know that there will be a new raft of qualifications coming onto the training market soon, linked to multi-professional status and shared competencies. I know that the Children and Young People’s Workforce Strategy is still working to provide even higher quality professionals and settings to meet the complex needs of all children and young people. David Lane has alluded to the potential impact of Care Matters on looked after children and how they are treated during their time in the care system.
There are indications that residential care settings are changing or are being phased out in some instances and again, this will have consequences for everyone. There are new trends and developments in the health sector for children and young people and of course, the educational strategies including the proposal of raising the school leaving age to eighteen will have a real impact on those who teach and those who are offered learning opportunities as well as parents and families and communities.

It’s all change.

Come along and join the debates.

Once the dates have been set, we will be announcing them through the magazine and to the email addresses of those of you who have requested this. If they become successful, we may consider taking them to different locations so that more of you can join in. I am so excited about this venture and look forward to meeting some of you at the first one to be held at the University of Northampton.

If you are interested in attending the seminars, email Valerie here.

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