Conference, 2016: Education and Childhood Studies: Research, Practice and Impact.

The School of Education and Childhood Studies held its 2016 conference on Monday, 11th July 2016, sharing some of our and others’ research, practice and impact in relation to the following themes:

  • Mental Health and Well-being in Childhood and Education
  • Childhood and International Development
  • Action Research in Teacher Education
  • Creative Pedagogies

Keynote speakers

Professor Rachel Brooks, Head of Department of Sociology, Professor of Sociology, University of Surrey
Internationalisation, Global Capital and English Secondary Schools

Dr Sarah Riley, Director of Research, Reader in Psychology, Aberystwyth University
If looks could kill: The social aspect of body image and how we might use that to build resilience

In this conference – two parallel sessions on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in Childhood and Education.

Download Research, Practice and Impact programme 2016 (pdf)

Seminar: 14 October 2015 – Evaluating School-Based Mental Health Literacy Programmes

Speaker: Dr Paul Gorczynski

School-based mental health literacy programmes aim to help children understand mental health problems, address stigmatizing attitudes, and access mental health resources. Although school-based programmes have been promoted as optimal ways of improving mental health literacy, their overall effectiveness in primary and secondary schools have not been evaluated thoroughly.

The purpose of this review was to examine the effectiveness of primary and secondary level school-based mental health literacy programmes on mental health knowledge, attitudes, and help seeking behaviour in children under the age of 18 years. In total, 47 studies were included in this review and most showed a positive intervention effect on all three aspects of mental health literacy.

The majority of studies evaluated mental health literacy programmes in secondary schools, focused on promoting knowledge and attitudes on mental illness in general, and involved more female than male students. Programmes varied in structure, length, delivery, and student interaction as well methods of evaluation.

Given programme and methodological heterogeneity, results should be treated cautiously and it is not possible to determine which mental health programme was most effective at addressing mental health knowledge, attitudes, or help seeking behaviour. Suggestions for future school-based mental health literacy programme research and practice are discussed.

Conference, 2014 – Promoting Social, Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Health in Childhood & Education

The symposium addressed researchers, practitioners, and others interested in the latest developments and findings in the field of childhood and education with a specific focus on emotional, social, behavioural and mental health issues.


  • Keynote 1: Professor Carol Hayden, Troubled Families
  • Keynote 2: Dr Emma Rich, Childhood, the body and risk: is a focus on obesity good for children’s health?
  • Parallel session 1: Childhood and Culture
    • Lexie Scherer, ‘Religion is good for you, perhaps wearing the burqua would be good for you to do in your religion’
    • Dawn Jones, This paper is dedicated to those professionals and childhood practitioners who supported parents and children in Christchurch New Zealand post earthquake 2010 and most notably February 2011
  • Parallel session 2: Childhood, Health and Well-Being
    • Emma Kirkby and Clare Wilson, The effect of recalling positive self-defining memories on adolescent well-being
    • Graham Robertson, You mug me off to the max, bruv’
  • Parallel session 3: Early Years Education, Care and Well-Being
    • Joy Chalke, Issues related to professionalising care and privileging education: what matters when looking after young children?
    • Emma Maynard, Helga Stittrich-Lyons, Caroline Emery, Early years and safeguarding
  • Parallel session 4: Student Behaviour in the Classroom
    • Karen Morris, Promoting Positive Behaviour with a Focus on the Importance of Autonomy
    • Simon Edwards, Making meaning out of school: an ethnographic study into students’ perceptions of their behaviour in the classroom

Keynote speakers

This event featured two keynote speakers:

Professor Carol Hayden, Institute of Criminal Justice, University of Portsmouth. ‘Researching the “Troubled Families” Programme in England: early observations’

It is well documented how in recent decades social policy and crime have become inextricably linked. So, welfare and social justice based issues are often recast in relation to anti-social (and criminal) behaviour. The ‘Troubled Families’ programme is an example of this criminalisation of social policy. This is a national programme which aims to ‘turn around’ the 120,000 ‘most troubled’ families in England by 2015. Troubled families are characterised as those who have problems and cause problems to those around them. Improving school attendance is one of the key national criteria, alongside reducing worklessness, crime and ASB and families that are ‘high cost’ to the public purse. The article reviews the evidence base for the overall approach of the programme, as well as the scale of the issue. Targeted and persistent interventions characterise the way of working, as does a whole family approach. Early indications are that behavioural change is likely to be achieved in some families, but that addressing ‘worklessness’ (a key focus of the programme) presents the biggest challenge. An even bigger challenge is helping families to find work that will move them out of poverty. The paper draws on ongoing research in two contrasting local authorities implementing the programme.

Dr Emma Rich, Sport and Education, Department of Education, University of Bath. ‘Childhood, the body and Risk: Is a focus on obesity good for children’s health?’

Over the last decade, talk of the ‘obesity epidemic’ has dominated the discursive terrain of health within the UK. Concerns that young people, particularly children, are too ‘fat’ ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ and at risk have resulted in a series of anti-obesity interventions, policies and health practices, across a range of learning environments, that have sought to monitor and regulate the bodies and lifestyles of increasingly younger children.

It is hardly surprising that at the same time a parallel research literature reports increasing numbers of the population are experiencing significant dissatisfaction or disaffection with their bodies.

Drawing on research spanning a decade, I will argue that the ways in which health messages around weight and ‘obesity’ are being voiced and interpreted across a range of physical cultural sites and contexts, from formal health education to informal learning environments such as mobile apps and social media, may ironically, have potentially harmful effects on those it targets.

Given these different perspectives, the practical question remains; how are we to approach issues of weight and health sensitively and safely? In considering the future direction of how we might begin to address this, I will explore the idea of border crossing; this approach focuses on the potential for practitioners, policymakers, academics and a range of significant others involved in research and debate in this field to produce spaces through which cross sector dialogue can focus on ethical and respectful social change.

Finally, I will highlight a number of questions about the language and politics of health education and the conditions through which critical scholars and practitioners might be able to forge productive and collaborative relationships.