CHILDRENS CENTRE LEARNING HISTORY
Over the years we have worked with many SureStart Children’s Centres, riding the waves of change with them whilst trying to help them think clearly and innovatively about services that children and families need and want.
It is very common in times of continuous change that learning is not gathered, and great ideas and work can be forgotten.
One Children’s Centre we have worked with was very keen to learn if it had made any real lasting and positive impact on the lives of children and their families, and if workers felt that they had developed as people and professionals.
The aim of the work was to gather insights from multiple perspectives – including those of children – about how people have experienced the work of the Centre. The jointly told tale needed to be accessible and interesting to read, whilst also pointing to changes that might need to be made in service delivery – what do they sustain, modify, stop or start?
We decided to use a Learning History approach – an inclusive and respectful process grounded in participative research. The process is fairly simple: talk to people, record their responses accurately, write it up and check with them for accuracy. Once all the stories were told we held a workshop for participants to share, check and shape the emerging themes, issues and learning.
The learning history was able to point to real achievements, some of which the Children’s Centre knew about, and some of which they were completely unaware. It also pointed to important work that still needed to be done and had not yet begun.
From this the Centre was able to rethink and reshape much of its work to support its immediate and longer term sustainability, and to ensure that what people really valued had a greater chance of being embedded and surviving the future waves of change.