Who are we?
We are a team of internationally-renowned researchers in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention (Professor Jane Barlow) and the Department of Experimental Psychology (Dr Alexandra Hendry) at the University of Oxford. We have a long history of working with early years practitioners and services, and of co-creating and co-producing research. We are passionate about expanding research on child development to explore further the impact of nurturing care, psychosocial factors and environmental influences on young children, and providing relevant evidence for policy makers and practitioners who work on a day-to-day basis with children and families.
What are we doing?
The importance of the first 1001 days for giving every child the best start in life is now well established, but there is much to be learned about the different factors associated with children’s flourishing, and how best to support families with differing needs and priorities. We aim to expand research in the early years sector by supporting early years practitioners and professionals – including health visitors, parent-infant psychologists, early years teachers, Family Hub workers, amongst others – to shape the future of research in the early years by becoming part of a national Supporting Early Minds Research Network across England.
This network will be a virtual space for researchers, commissioners, practitioners and service providers to come together to contribute to research that is aimed at enhancing future practice within early years settings that is accessible, engaging and acceptable for families from diverse backgrounds. We are particularly committed to connecting with early years services / settings that work with communities who we know are under-served.
We are aware that many practitioners working in early years setting (including Family Hubs) would like to be more involved in research opportunities, such as for example, by being a research site for a funded study. We are also aware that it can be difficult knowing how to go about this, and we want to help!
How can I get involved?
We are interested in hearing from anybody who is interested in becoming involved in early years research, whether you are an expert by experience, a practitioner, a service manager or a commissioner. We are in the early stages of establishing a national supporting early minds research network, and we would value you getting in touch to share your views about what is needed!
We are currently seeking to further our understanding about the barriers to early years services participating in research studies, and also how being part of a research network could benefit you or the early years setting in which you work. If you are interested in being part of an online focus group representing any of the above groups, please get in touch.
- We will be developing a bespoke website in the very near future.
- We hope to begin a regular newsletter shortly and a webinar series from the end of 2023 / beginning of 2024.
- Continuing to build our network through informal and formal networking.
The Supporting Early Minds Research Network is still in set-up, and will be launching officially in December 2023 / January 2024 (with a new website, etc.). Since the spring, during our small outreach activities, we have begun creating an emerging directory of interested researchers (and research centres), research-active/willing commissioners, research-active/willing service providers and research-active/willing practitioners. If you would like to join the emerging network directory, a form to do so is available here: https://forms.office.com/e/fUGxmsfqzV