Over the last four years, the British Academy’s Childhood Policy Programme has aimed to re-frame policy debates around childhood and to break down academic, policy and professional silos in order to explore new conceptualisations of children in policymaking. The programme is now nearing the end of its second and final phase, and our final report will be published this summer. 

This second phase has been focused on three core themes:

  • Children’s voice and participation
  • Rights-based approaches to policy, and
  • Balancing the perspectives of being a child and becoming an adult. 

Within the theme of children’s voice and participation, we have explored how the diverse voices of children can be built into policy, and how children’s voices can most effectively be heard and acted upon by those working in policy. We have also endeavoured to incorporate children’s voices and participation in our own activities, for example through participation in a panel discussion and a workshop, and through a series of sessions held with children which explored children’s views on their rights and on policy issues more widely, to accompany and feed in to our policy lab on children’s rights attended by a group of rights experts. 

One aspect of our work on children’s voice and participation has been a consideration of how policy is communicated to children. At our Covid-19 and Childhood workshop, which drew on insights from the Academy’s COVID Decade work, children stated that clearly communicated policy messaging is important to them and that this needs to be delivered in a way they will understand. Children at the workshop stressed the importance of having clear information on issues such as school closures and exam cancellations, and they stated that not having this clarity can cause additional pressure and can negatively affect mental health.

With this in mind, we were keen to produce some outputs aimed specifically at children as part of the childhood programme. Our first child friendly output consists of a booklet, Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people, based on the discussion at the Covid-19 and childhood workshop mentioned above. This workshop in May 2021 brought together researchers, individuals working in policy, and non-governmental organisations, as well as a selected number of children, to explore the effects the ongoing pandemic was having on four aspects of the lives of children in the UK. The aspects explored were education, mental and physical health, family life, and social relationships, play & creativity.

Over this final stage of the programme, we plan to produce child friendly versions of a few other outputs of the childhood policy programme, including of the executive summary of the final childhood report. If you do have any comments or feedback on our first child friendly booklet, or on any wider aspects of the childhood policy programme, please do get in contact with us at childhood@thebritishacademy.ac.uk

Professor the Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett CBE FBA
Chair, British Academy Childhood Policy Programme

Visit our Family & Community focus page British Academy Childhood Policy Programme for more information on the programme.