School of Education

Leeds Centre for Interdisciplinary Childhood and Youth Research

Seminar Series, Winter and Spring Terms, 2015-16

Teenage futures: Parents’ roles and values in contexts of change

Date: 4:00pm. Tuesday 3rd May 2016
Location: Room G.18, School of Education, Hillary Place, University of Leeds

Speaker: Professor Sarah Irwin (Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds and Director of the Centre for Research into Families, the Life Course and Generations).

The current restructuring of educational and labour market arrangements create new inequalities, and new dilemmas, for young people. In this context, what roles do parents play in supporting their teenage children as they approach early adulthood? I will offer an analysis of data generated across three rounds of interviews with parents, from 2008 – 2014, and explore how they support their children, and seek to guide them in decisions about education, training and employment. The qualitative longitudinal data sheds light on parents’ values, and on inequalities in the range of possibilities for drawing on, and mobilising resources, at key moments. Additionally it offers some insights into parental perspectives on the changing structure of opportunity for contemporary young adults as part of a wider analysis of social class and generational transmission in a context of extensive social change.

Sarah has published extensively in the areas of family, parenting, youth and social inequalities.

This entry was posted in Events, Seminar Series, Winter and Spring Terms, 2015-16.

Becoming tyrannous?: A capabilities approach to best interests assessments

Date: 4:00pm. Wednesday, 17th February 2016
Location: G.18 (School of Education, Hillary Place, University of Leeds)

Prof. Michael Thomson (School of Law, University of Leeds)

The Children Act 1989 sets out that the welfare of the child must be the paramount consideration in any decision made with regard to the upbringing of a child. This ‘best interests standard’ has become a core principle of welfare law. At the same time, what might constitute the best interests of children is given very little formal shape or content. Indeed, it has been argued that the standard is so vague as to be meaningless. Further, the test has been criticised as being too subjective, allowing room for personal prejudice in decision-making, and operating to advance parental and professional interests over the child’s best interests. Notwithstanding such criticism, no satisfactory alternative framework has been forthcoming.

The Capabilities Approach proposed by Amartya Sen and others provides a theoretically nuanced framework for evaluation and deliberation. It has as its central characteristic a focus on what people are effectively able to ‘be and do’. It is argued that well-being and justice are best conceptualised in terms of people’s capabilities to function; that is, their effective opportunities to undertake the actions and activities that they want to engage in, and be whom they want to be. The approach has recently been interpreted as a normative language; the flexibility of the approach allowing actors to interpret the components of the theory in different settings, and construct context dependent policy narratives. Acknowledging this flexibility and sensitivity to context, this paper argues that the Capabilities Approach can provide a principled decision-making framework for best interests assessments and, indeed, law more generally where the utility of the approach has been under explored.

This entry was posted in Events, Seminar Series, Winter and Spring Terms, 2015-16.

Poor educational outcomes for young people with caring responsibilities

Date: 4:00pm. Wednesday, 25th November 2015
Location: G.18 (School of Education, Hillary Place, University of Leeds)

Dr. Cathy Brennan (Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds)

Conservative estimates suggest there are 175,000 children and young people in the UK with caring responsibilities for a dependent relative. The level and type of care varies between families but up to 20% may be caring for 20 hours or more a week and up to 7% for over 50 hours a week. Caring roles in young people have been associated with poor health outcomes and disruption to schooling which may limit opportunities in later life.

This study explored the association between young people identified as carers and their educational achievement using data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE). The results suggest that a young person’s caring role can have a negative impact on their outcomes in compulsory education. Even given the increased likelihood of disadvantage and health difficulties amongst young carers, they are less likely to achieve a recognised minimum standard of educational attainment and this is likely to impact on future life chances.

This entry was posted in Events, Seminar Series, Winter and Spring Terms, 2015-16.

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