Exploring the educational experiences and aspirations of Looked After Children and young people (LACYP) in Wales

RESEARCH BRIEFING

Authors: Dr Dawn Mannay, Dr Eleanor Staples, Dr Sophie Hallett, Dr Louise Roberts, Dr Alyson Rees, Dr Rhiannon Evans, Darren Andrews

Year: March 2016

Summary:

Research briefing on research exploring the educational experiences and aspirations of Looked After children and young people (LACYP) in Wales

Lights, Camera, Action: Translating Research Findings into Policy and Practice Impacts with Music, Film and Artwork

This chapter, written with Louisa Roberts, Eleanor Staples and Ministry of Life, thinks about how to get the messages from research out to wide and diverse audiences.

The strategies discussed in the chapter were related to a Welsh Government commissioned study to explore the educational experiences, attainment and aspirations of care experienced children and young people. The project was delivered by CASCADE: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre.

We were dismayed by the number of times that recommendations, similar to our study’s findings, had been made; but not met with changes in the lives of care experienced children and young people. This raised concerns that despite reporting our findings and recommendations through traditional approaches – reports and journal articles – they would have little impact in making positive changes on the ground – in schools, foster homes and social service provision.

Young people asked us what would happen with their recommendations so it was important to think about innovative ways to share information from the study. In response we worked with young people and the creative industries to produce artwork, music audios and videos, and bespoke art pieces representing the project recommendations and made an animated short film, music video and charter – #messagestoschools.

We have shared these materials with teachers, foster carers, practitioners, young people and students across Wales and the UK, and drawn together a set of useful, free to access materials on the online community of practice ExChange: Care and Education.

We hope that other researchers and practitioners will draw on and share the materials we have produced; and consider how they can work more creatively to contribute to improving the educational experiences and outcomes of children and young people.

Chapter 16

Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales

This is the latest blog in a series relating to the recently released book “Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales”. Over the next few weeks we will be uploading blog posts from chapter authors.

Find the other blogs in this series on our blog page!

Sandboxes, Stickers and Superheroes: Employing Creative Techniques to Explore the Aspirations and Experiences of Children and Young People who are Looked After

This chapter, written with Eleanor Staples considers creative ways of engaging with children and learning about their experiences, views and suggestions. In a project commissioned by the Welsh Government involving 67 care experienced children and young people, we were interested in what they thought about education and what needs to be put in place to foster improvements.

The research was situated in all day events with The Fostering Network, which included activities such as clay modelling; wall climbing, sport based games; and jewellery, t-shirt and bag making. Children and young people who wanted to be included in the research put their name on a card and pegged it on a string to let us know they were happy to take part.

This approach provided opportunities to get to know the children and kept the activities open to everyone, whether or not they wanted to take part in the study. Children who wanted to be involved in the research could select one-to-one emotion sticker activities and/or sandboxing incorporating an elicitation interview, or just have a conversation with the researcher.

Having an open activity, where children could create representations of their present experiences and ideas for the future, on their own terms, allowed space for exploring the complexities and uncertainties faced in the everyday lives of care experienced children. Moving away from a traditional question-and answer style of interview also made it easier to reflect on and discuss topics, as there was something to look at or hold, rather than children being fixed within the gaze of the researcher. We hope that other researchers will find these techniques useful in their work with children and young people.