The Network’s next event, Monday 6 March 4 pm: ‘Listening to the Views of Children with Autism.’

The Network’s next presentation will be given by Juliet Scott-Barrett, a PhD Candidate in Education, on ‘Listening to the Views of Children with Autism.’

When: Monday, 6 March 2017, 4:00 – 5:00 pm
Where: Practice Suite (Room 1.12), Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15 George Square, University of Edinburgh

Listening to the views of children with autism

Children with autism hold important, perceptive, and thoughtful views and ideas . Researchers, practitioners, peers, and policy-makers stand at a disadvantage by not having access to, or listening to, the views of children with autism . Autism is a condition that may affect how an individual is able to navigate communicative interactions, and may influence how someone wishes to express their ideas . Children with autism experience barriers to actively engaging with research that elicits their views , and it is the researcher’s responsibility to address those barriers.

This research project looks into the techniques and approaches that help researchers elicit views in ways that aim to be meaningful for both the researcher and the child with autism. The project is a two-study research design to integrate perspectives from both essential contributors in a research encounter: researchers (Study 1), and participants (Study 2). The first study works with ten researchers with diverse expertise and experience in listening to children and young people with autism. The second study will work with children with autism using Lego and photography, to develop understanding about how to make research more meaningful for younger children with autism. This presentation will discuss the methods and data of my first study; I will discuss researchers’ perspectives on issues encountered whilst negotiating informed consent with young people with autism, and managing focus groups with young people with diverse communication preferences.


Conn, C. (2015). Essential Conditions for Research with Children with Autism: Issues Raised by Two Case Studies.Children & Society, 29(1), 59–68; Ellis, J. (2016). Researching the Social Worlds of Autistic Children: An Exploration of How an Understanding of Autistic Children’s Social Worlds is Best Achieved. Children & Society.
Humphrey, N., & Lewis, S. (2008). `Make me normal’. The views and experiences of pupils on the autistic spectrum in mainstream secondary schools. Autism, 12(1), 23–46.; Preece, D., & Jordan, R. (2010). Obtaining the views of children and young people with autism spectrum disorders about their experience of daily life and social care support. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 38(1), 10–20.
Baron‐Cohen, S. (2009). The empathising‐systemising theory of autism: implications for education. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 14(3), 4–13..
Lewis, A. (2009). Methodological Issues in Exploring the Ideas of Children with Autism Concerning Self and Spirituality. Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, 13(1), 64–76.; Preece, D. (2002). Consultation with children with autistic spectrum disorders about their experience of short-term residential care. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30(3), 97–104.
Nind, M. (2009). Conducting qualitative research with people with learning, communication and other disabilities: Methodological challenges. Retrieved from


6th Annual Childhood Studies Jamboree 1 March 2017 – register your place now!

You are invited to the 6th Childhood Studies Jamboree on Wednesday 1st of March 2017. The session will run from 2-5pm and will be followed by some refreshments.

The Jamboree is an event organised by Listening to Children students and conveners, with support of the UoE Childhood and Youth Studies Network. We are finalising our location – which will be in the University of Edinburgh George Square area.

You will hear and learn about cutting edge research that our colleagues are carrying out with children and young people. It is a fun opportunity to meet other childhood/youth studies students and early career researchers, and try out methods of working with children and young people through 2 interactive workshops. This year we once again have wonderful workshop choices, from engaging children as co-researchers to the ethics of ethnography. It is another international array, from those undertaking research in Scotland to those working in China, Columbia, Jordan and elsewhere.

Spaces are limited so please email  by the 20th February with any particular requirements or dietary needs to confirm your place.

What participants said last year about what they learnt:

“The nitty-gritty of the research process. Practical tips and candid responses and reflections have really inspired my research interests.”

“Many ideas for creatively and genuinely seeking children’s perspectives and involving them in research. Many wonderful ideas for resources which can be used. An understanding of the ways in which research with children and young people can influence policy and practice.”

“Ideas about how to listen to children creatively and how to integrate what you have heard into campaigning for policy change (brilliant and really helpful session).”

Young People’s Transitions Conference: Registration now open!

**Registration is now currently at capacity for this conference. However, we encourage you to get on the waitlist if you are interested in this conference. There will likely be registrants who are no longer able to attend and tickets will be released as they are made available. 

Registration is now open for Young People’s Transitions: Dimensions, Difficulties and Diversity, a free, one-day conference for youth researchers, policymakers and practitioners on Friday 21 April 2017 at the University of Edinburgh.

The Conference seeks to explore, illuminate and interrogate the complexity of young people’s lives today and ask questions relating to the myriad factors that shape the youth phase. Studies of young people making life transitions across the youth period (age 10 to 24) give us a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how different aspects of young people’s lives interpenetrate – in employment, health, family, peer relationships, media, housing, culture, poverty, disadvantage and more. This area of research is nothing if not multidimensional and multidisciplinary, so we seek presenters and participants that encompass diverse viewpoints from the academic, policy and practice communities that engage with young people.

Head to the Registration page now via Eventbrite or learn more about the Conference in the webpages here. Registration will be limited to 100 delegates, but the Conference will be running a waitlist. Please register as soon as you can!

Until Monday 13 February we will be seeking Conference abstracts from PhD or early-career researchers from a variety of disciplines to present at the Conference. Send in your abstract now or forward to your colleagues —  see  Call for Abstracts.

Please share this event with your colleagues at your University, in government or in the practitioner/third sector who may be interested in this Conference. We can’t wait for you to join us at the Conference in April!

Any questions or concerns please email Sarah Weakley at

‘Friendship with peers as a source of help for children of migrant parents: the case of a rural boarding school in China’ January 24 Network Seminar by Yan Zhu, PhD Social Policy (Childhood Studies)

Welcome back! We hope you had a great holiday break and have come back to work with renewed enthusiasm! The Network is back this semester, beginning with our January seminar by Yan Zhu, a PhD Candidate in Social Policy (Childhood Studies) on 24 January at 4 pm. There she will present her fieldwork from her time researching in a rural boarding school in China, investigating the possibility and necessity of involving children as a source of help to contribute to children of migrant parents’ wellbeing, particularly in their friendships. For those in childhood studies and particularly for anyone with an interest in child participation issues, this is for you!

Friendship with peers as a source of help for children of migrant parents: the case of a rural boarding school in China
Yan Zhu, PhD Candidate Social Policy (Childhood Studies)
24 January 4:00 pm, Room 1.12 Chrystal Macmillan Building

Children of migrant parents in rural areas of China are normally defined as a group of children who are under 16 years old and remain in rural areas while both of their parents move to urban areas as migrant workers, or one parent moves to the city as a migrant worker and the remaining parent has no ability to provide care to the child. As a group of vulnerable children, children of migrant parents have attracted a lot of attention in China in recent years. Many policies and practices were launched with an aim of supporting children of migrant parents to improve their wellbeing. However, it seems that the majority of these policies and practices are adult-led approaches with very limited space for child participation. Thus, the presentation will focus on discussing the possibility and necessity of involving children as a source of help to contribute to children of migrant parents’ wellbeing; particularly on exploring what kinds of help children could gain from their friendships with peers in the context of boarding school.

A Cautionary Note for Implementing the Named Person Scheme

by Harla Sara Octarra
PhD Candidate, Social Policy, the University of Edinburgh

The Scottish Government’s public service reforms for children are increasingly committed to promoting interagency working. Interagency working is often prescribed as a way to overcoming complex bureaucracy and delay in public services. GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) signifies such reform. It aims at improving outcomes for children by improving services; that is a shift from working in silos into partnership (Stradling and Alexander, 2012). Some considered GIRFEC as a policy, others a framework or approach. However, in practice, there has been questions so as to its effectiveness in improving outcomes for children (Davis and Smith, 2012; Education Scotland, 2012). Through the ‘landmark’ children’s legislation (Tisdall, 2015), which is the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, the Scottish Government continues to improve implementation of GIRFEC. In Part 4 of the Act is the Named Person Service. Consistent with the reforms and GIRFEC, interagency working is also key to implementing the Named Person service, which provides a single point of contact for children and families and services when there is a concern for a child’s wellbeing (Scottish Government, 2014).

Is the Named Person a person or a service?

Since its introduction, the Named Person has raised objections particularly because it is perceived as interfering family lives and violating parental rights (Christian Institute, 2014). Those who object to the scheme (as well as in some media coverage) see a Named Person as a state guardian (NO2NP, 2016). Also, the UK Supreme Court recently found that the information sharing provision of the Named Person scheme was unlawful. The lack of consent seeking and insufficient guidelines that could lead to professionals making a disproportionate judgement without parents or children’s knowledge was the basis for the Supreme Court objection. The controversies focus on the Named Person as the professional, the person, while not enough attention has been given to the Named Person as a service.

Drawing on ethnographic research in one local authority over a period of eight months, I found that the introduction of the Named Person service appears to be problematic in practice. I present three reasons. First, implementing the Named Person is changing relationships, and therefore creating tensions, between professionals in their ways of working together. Second, for professionals who become the Named Person, there are tensions between this role and their usual remit. Finally, the Named Person role brings extra bureaucratic work for those who would take up the role.

I argue that the Named Person is both a service and a person. The Act and the Named Person guidelines assume that the service will ensure existing approaches to interagency working are more efficient. The single point of contact, a person, is thus expected to coordinate services and responses to ensure wellbeing concerns are addressed timely and appropriately. The professional who is going to be a Named Person is an employee and also a practitioner; s/he is bound to follow the rules set by their organisation and to deliver the service based on their professional training. The Named Person service works through organisational work mechanisms and procedures that influence the day-to-day work of professionals. In the context of interagency working, such influence extends to the ways professionals work together. Understanding this complexity, and the dual nature of the Named Person scheme, is paramount to make progress in the Scottish Government re-design in the coming months.


Christian Institute, 2014. ‘Named person’ scheme. Available from: [Accessed 11th December 2016]

Davis, J.M., Smith, M., 2012. Working in multi-professional contexts : a practical guide for professionals in children’s services. SAGE Publications, London.

Education Scotland, 2012. Getting it right for every child: Where are we now? Available from: [Accessed 11th December 2016]

NO2NP, 2016. Round Up of Media Coverage of Named Person Plans. Available from: [Accessed 11th December 2016]

Scottish Government, 2014. Named Person. Available from: [Accessed 11th December 2016]

Stradling, B., Alexander, B., 2012. Getting it right for children: promoting effective change, in: Hill, M., Head, G., Lockyer, A., Reid, B., Taylor, R. (Eds.), Children’s Services: Working Together. Pearson, Harlow, England, pp. 62–74.

Tisdall, E.K.M., 2015. Children’s Rights and Children’s Wellbeing: Equivalent Policy Concepts? Journal of Social Policy 44, 807–823.


Announcing the University of Edinburgh Young People’s Transitions Conference, 21 April 2017: Call for Abstracts open!

Young People’s Transitions: Dimensions, Difficulties and Diversity
Multi-Disciplinary Conference
University of Edinburgh, 21 April 2017

A one-day conference for youth researchers, policymakers and practitioners sponsored by the University of Edinburgh School of Social and Political Science and the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships.

On April 21, 2017 the University of Edinburgh’s Childhood and Youth Studies Network and the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships will be holding a free, one-day conference for youth researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Young People’s Transitions: Dimensions, Difficulties and Diversity seeks to explore, illuminate and interrogate the complexity of young people’s lives today and ask questions relating to the myriad factors that shape the youth phase. The conference aims to include delegates from the academic, policy and practice communities that engage with young people, and conference presentations will be given by PhD or early-career researchers from a variety of disciplines.

The conference will also feature two renowned keynote speakers: Divya Jindal-Snape, Professor of Education, Inclusion and Life Transitions, University of Dundee and Andy Furlong, Professor of Social Inclusion and Education, University of Glasgow.

The Call for Abstracts is now open to PhD or early career researchers for 20 minute presentations (250 word abstract). The two conference streams for abstracts are:

  • Inequality and Its Impacts
    How does inequality manifest itself in the multiple transitions of young people, and what are the impacts?
  • Who or What is in Control
    How do the structural determinants of society interact with the agency of young people as they make transitions in this life stage?

Abstract deadline: 13 February 2017. See detailed Call for Abstracts here.

For more information about the Conference, including detailed abstract guidelines, please click on the menu ‘Young People’s Transitions Conference 2017‘ above.  Registration for delegates opening soon!

Our next presentation Wednesday 23 November: ‘Issues in Scotland’s Named Person Scheme’

The Network’s November presentation will be given by Harla Octarra, a PhD Candidate in Social Policy, on the timely policy issue of Scotland’s Named Person scheme and what it means for social workers and local authorities.

When: Wednesday, 23 November 2016 4:00 – 5:00 pm 
Where: Practice Suite, Room 1.12 Chrystal Macmillan Building 
               15 George Square, University of Edinburgh 

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 establishes that all children and young people under the age of 18 in Scotland will have a Named Person. The Named Person will be a clear point of contact for children, young people and their parents when they require advice and support. At the moment, the implementation of this scheme is being delayed due to UK Supreme Court decision against its information sharing provisions. Although this presentation will not address the law debate about the scheme, because the judgement requires changes to the legislation in relation to the sharing of information provisions of the Act, there can be no better time to discuss the issues arising from the introduction of the Named Person. The presentation will focus on the issues at practice level; particularly on how the scheme is affecting the work of professionals (who are going to be Named Person) in education setting. This draws from research experience in 1 Local Authority over the course of 8 months in 2015.