Child development professionals call for more emotional support for children at Sheffield meeting

Senior professionals in children’s development have held a meeting in Sheffield in which they called for more emotional support services for children from deprived communities to prevent longer-term health and well-being issues developing.

By Alana Roberts
Friday, 12 April, 2019, 10:38
(L-R) Dr. Adam Boddison, Dionne Cooper of Ellesmere Childrens Centre, Penny Borkett, Dr. Sharon Curtis and Dr. Pat Broadhead outside the Emosi centre.

The call was made following a meeting at Emosi, a new children’s therapy centre which is based at the multi-award-winning Ellesmere Children’s Centre on Ellesmere Road in Burngreave.

The meeting was attended by nationally recognised leaders in early years development, including Dr. Adam Boddison, CEO of the National Association of Special Educational Needs, and Dr. Sharon Curtis, Manager of Emosi.

Dr. Pat Broadhead, former Sheffield Early Years’ Champion and Professor of Playful Learning at Leeds Metropolitan University, Penny Borkett, author and Senior Lecturer in Early Years at Sheffield Hallam University and Marie McGreavy, Strategic Commissioning Manager for Sheffield City Council were also in attendance.

The call comes as Kevin Courtney, the join general secretary of the National Education Union, said support for children and young people with special educational needs was ‘woefully inadequate.

A report by the thinktank IPPR North also found that government financial support for the children with special educational needs has been cut by 17 per cent across England since 2015, with children in the north of England worst affect with cuts of 22 per cent per pupil.

Opening the discussion, Dr. Boddison, who had travelled from London to attend the meeting said; “It’s quite often that children from low economic backgrounds are impacted on when there are changes in educational delivery.

“There is an opportunity with the establishing of Emosi in Burngeave, to bring together agencies to create a centre of excellence that focusses on the emotional and developmental issues of early years children.” 

Dr. Curtis then reflected on more than 20 years’ experience of running Ellesmere Children’s Centre in one of England’s poorest wards.

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She said; “It seems to be that the emotional development of very young children is often overlooked, but it underpins everything in terms of their mental health and well-being.

“We need to change the way we look at how practitioners, education providers and parents or carers engage on the subject of children’s emotional well-being, particularly in transcultural and deprived areas such as Burngreave.”

Emosi has been designed to host specialist play and filial therapies for children with emotional and behavioural needs.

The new centre is located in the former Caretaker’s house of Ellesmere School and was converted at a cost of nearly £185,000.

Ellesmere Children’s Centre has been providing pre-school care and education for children for more than 23 years and has been recognised internationally for the approach it takes in developing children. 

Dr. Broadhead welcomed the idea of Emosi being a focus for child development that can engage with a wide range of cultures in our communities. 

“We need to address the challenges around supporting children living with trauma as they move between home and early years settings. Children’s rights, parental support and staff development are all key to effective communication,” she said.