On Friday 2nd December Riverside College held the first ever Children and Young People conference at its Centre Stage theatre. Ninety visitors and students attended to hear inspirational talks by Jennie Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Kids Allowed Ltd, Gerald Meehan, Strategic Director, Children and Enterprise Directorate in Halton and Controllah Gabi, Riverside College lecturer.
The conference theme, ‘Implications of Economic Hardship on Children, Young People, Families and Services’, was chosen as this is currently one of the biggest challenges facing the sector and the area.
Jennie Johnson started the day off with an inspiring presentation. After having her second child she became aware of the lack of quality childcare services available to her and set out to deliver the highest quality childcare through Kids Allowed Ltd. She now has four centres and has gone on to win various awards. Jennie said, ‘I am always happy to come and share my experiences at this type of event. I think that it is important that people get a realistic overview of what it is like to work in Childcare and I hope to inform and inspire local people to become involved in a professional role within Childcare’
Jennie’s speech was followed by Controllah Gabie, Riverside College Lecturer and organiser of the conference. Conti is an experienced teacher with a wealth of experience in the sector, having completed many well received research papers.
Gerald Meehan, Strategic Director of the Children and Enterprise Directorate of Halton Borough Council, then kicked off the afternoon before the audience were split into working groups to look at the challenges, opportunities and ways to move forward in the sector.
The event concluded with awards, sponsored by Edexcel, being given to some inspiring students by Councilor John Swain, who then closed the event with a speech, followed by thanks from Michael Sheehan, College Principal.
Clare Faulkner, Head of Childcare and Health and Social Care at Riverside College said, ‘It was a fantastic day and a great opportunity to bring practitioners and students together to share their professional experiences in relation to the present economic climate. The event was very successful and inspired all of our students; I am looking forward to holding similar events in the near future.”
This event was a great opportunity for students studying the BTEC Extended Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development and Health and Social Care, Access to Social Work and the Foundation Degree Interrogated Practice to get current information on the developments within the sector, recognise the skills they need for future employment and focus on different ways to support children in their future careers.
The Childcare and Health and Social department is a well established area of the college but an event like this has helped Riverside College to create further links with employers and students alike and has encouraged the College to extend the provision further. In September 2012, two new degrees will be introduced to enhance the current portfolio. These will be in Early Years and Health and Social Care.