The Childhood Policy Programme

The British Academy has undertaken a programme of work that seeks to re-frame debates around childhood in both the public and policy spaces and break down academic, policy and professional silos in order to explore new conceptualisations of children in policymaking.

Over the last 150 years, the experience of being a child in the United Kingdom has changed hugely in terms of how children are viewed, valued and cared for. During this period, policymaking and research relating to children have also undergone dramatic changes.

This programme has investigated different aspects of these changes through a number of research activities, including policymaking landscape reviews for each of the four UK nations; case studies on approaches across the four UK nations towards children leaving care and childhood poverty, and evidence on the effectiveness of these different approaches; and a series of stakeholder workshops with policymakers, practitioners and academics.

As part of this programme the British Academy is exploring important and challenging childhood policy topics through a series of provocation papers, written by experts from across the arts, humanities and social sciences. Read the papers on Medium:

Whose Child Are You?
Professor Catriona Seth FBA, 27 April, 2020

Thriving in the 21st century: the new science of early childhood
Professor Kathy Sylva, 30 March 2020

Age of Criminal Responsibility
Dr Harriet Pierpoint, 4 February 2020

How Should We Think About Childhood and Children?
Professor David Archard, 4 February 2020

Can We Realise Children’s Rights In A Digital World?
Professor Sonia Livingstone FBA, 28 January 2020

Disabled Children Do Not Have Rights
Professor Tom Shakespeare FBA, 19 November 2019

The Academy is also holding a series of panel events which provide opportunities to debate and discuss some of the themes raised in the provocation papers. In June 2020 the first of these events brought together different perspectives to consider the complex relationship between children and the digital world. Read a summary of the 'Perspectives on children navigating a digital world' panel discussion.

The second panel event took place in September 2020 and explored children's engagement with the environments around them. A recording of the 'Perspectives on children's engagement with the environments around them' panel discussion is now available, and a summary note of the event is also available.

A further panel event took place in December 2020 exploring how children and young people accused of a crime should be treated within the justice system. A recording of the discussion is now available.

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