Professor John Diamond (Director of the University’s I4P) argues for making explicit the links between ideas, policy and practice:

Listening to Professor Tom Cockburn – who is Head of the University’s Social Science Department and has extensive experience of thinking about and researching childhood studies – give his professorial lecture, I was struck (again) by the need to make explicit the links between ideas, policy and practice.

As Tom observed, we are working in a University with both a rich tradition of working with and preparing a key set of professionals (teachers) to work with children, and for over 20 years we have worked with and prepared another key professional group  – nurses and medical staff. And yet two quite separate things were set out in Tom’s talk (and they are recurring themes across a number of the talks and workshops in the Festival of Ideas and they are also part of the remit for I4P).

Firstly, the need for professionals to listen and speak to each other. The case for collaboration is well known. And we know – as Professor Sally Spencer from the Faculty of Health illustrated this week in her workshop – talking has to be facilitated and enabled. The power of the silo (even here) is such that separate developments detached from like-minded ways of seeing and thinking about the world can happen quite easily. And that’s before we address professional notions of territory and space.

Secondly, having conversations is only a first step. It needs to be accompanied by thinking about how we effect change. And so making the links between ideas, policy and action requires us to bring into the conversation another set of voices: those who we are talking about – children and young people and, if necessary, their advocates / supporters.

We should not assume that we can broker these conversations and develop ways of working which will generate trust and engagement. The challenge, I think, is how we make those connections and what we learn from them. And that’s the final part of this process: what do we take back and learn? And are we up for that part of the process?

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