Algorithms or Conversation?


Recent news coverage explored the use of algorithms to identify vulnerable children. It was suggested that in an era of cuts it may offer a tool to identify children who might be at risk of ‘abuse, youth offending and truancy’.


Although no-one would deny the importance of protecting children, one of the major concerns about using data to identify risk – is that it de-skills all of us from talking about it.  


It is not that technology cannot help – but rather that technology must sit alongside additional efforts to enable children to be able to be part of a discourse about who they are and how they feel. It takes us back to the points in last week’s blog, where the importance of belonging was highlighted alongside the need for children to have a language so they can involve themselves in the conversation. 


Abuse, offending behaviour and truancy are all issues where we will be  better able to protect children if we can support them to develop the skills and the language to speak out. 


Promoting an environment where the voice of the child is valued must be an ambition of any who wish to protect the child! Algorithms could help to get a conversation started, but without us investing in the ability of both adults and children to converse meaningfully – our ability to effectively protect children will always be limited.

Being Yourself

Getting off on the right foot this new academic year – surely has to mean thinking carefully about ‘identity’ and ‘belonging’ and what those practically mean as part of any day to day work with children. 


I have been reading Afua Hirsch’s book BRIT(ish) – a clear and passionate exploration of race and identity. There are a number of interesting themes that Hirsch raises in relation to race that can also be considered from the perspective of being a child. For example, that strength of desire to belong and to be part of something that allows one to best present who they are – is a challenge children are regularly facing.


We see children seeking that wish to belong in many day to day interactions at school. At times children might overplay their hand as they seek to demonstrate that perceived sense of belonging, or indeed not play a hand at all as they watch from the sidelines trying to work out exactly where they fit in. 


However, and this is the crucial part, if we are to equip children truly make sense of that desire to belong, then doesn’t that have to start with a journey of discovery – one in which each children meaningfully comes to know themselves. Hirsch, as part of her own exploration suggests, ‘it is often said that you cannot do anything until you know who you are’. 


If we are going to support children as effective lifelong learners, to not only manage the requirements of exams but also the complexities of day to day life, then don’t we have a responsibility to ensure that children know themselves? 


To start that might mean simply mean being able to express ones feelings…

(to be continued

New year – new language

A new school year and with it a chance to develop a language for learning. 


A number of our schools are using this term to launch ‘their’ language for learning. Through extensive consultations these schools have developed key learning attributes, around which they have gone on to define what these might look like as part of unlocking the learning process for both adults and children. 


Some of the schools have created characters to help engage the children in this language for learning.  


As part of the new school year these characters will be introduced and explored. They will help to unlock the learning processes, which the schools will invite the children to experience as part of the journey to know, understand and apply ‘their’ language for learning. 


For more on the steps you can take to create a language for learning or for more detailed examples do contact us.