[Update 15/5/15 : We’ve now put all the conference material together on our events page here and we’ve stopped updating this post. The most up to date programme is on our events page.] 

Policing Parents? Protecting Children? Promoting Adoption?

Do we get the child protection system we deserve

The Transparency Project is pleased to announce a multi-discliplinary conference, on 1st June 2015, which will discuss the different views and perspectives from experts, lawyers, social workers, parents and care leavers in an attempt to re-position the current unhealthily polarised debate around the child protection system.

We will be joined by Dr Lauren Devine of UWE who is currently undertaking research into the evidence base for our current system and by Brigid Featherstone, co-author of ‘Re Imagining Child Protection’. The event is sponsored by St John’s Chambers, Bristol.

st john's logo

The conference will take place at the NCVO facilities, near Kings Cross in London.

The timetable for the day is set out below. 

Please note our ‘Ground Rules’ as set out briefly below and discussed in more detail here. 



Please note that workshop A is no longer available 23/02/15

We are delighted to announce that the Family Rights Group will be joining Workshop C – Therapeutic interventions and community support 23/02/15

We have started collecting brief biographies of those who will be speaking at the conference. We are aiming to have a conference specific website up and running where we can collect information about what is discussed, proposals for next steps etc.



We have some tickets left but need to confirm final numbers ASAP. If you would like to come, please email info@transparencyproject.org.uk by Friday 15th May. Tickets are priced at £5 for unwaged, £30 for waged, £50 for professionals of 5 years or less PQE, £100 for professionals of more than 5 years PQE.

Payment can be made by cheque to the Transparency Project, or via on line transfer to account number 11508415, sort code 40-17-50.


Ground Rules for All Participants

The aim of the conference is to share views and experiences of the current system in order to be able to talk about what goes well, what goes badly and what we can do better. We would like to be able to produce something in writing after the conference that could help politicians, professionals and others better understand the child protection system.

We know that a lot of people feel strongly about this debate and rightly so, because it is important. We know that some people  will come to the conference with their own experiences, some of which will have been very negative for them. However, for this conference to achieve anything worthwhile, participants must be able to contain their own emotions from spilling out into words or behaviour which will disrupt proceedings or make any other participant feel unsafe.

We request that all participants respect each other and the aims of the conference and anyone who is unable or unwilling to do this will have to leave.  The decision of any individual member of the conference organising committee will be final in this regard.

We discuss the necessary ground rules in more detail here.


CPD points for solicitors

We have received the following information from the Solicitors Regulation Authority:

From November 2014:-

  • Solicitors do not have to complete 25% of their 16 hours annual CPD through accredited activity, the basic 16 hours will remain.
  • removing the defined terms ” authorised CPD provider” and “authorised distance learning provider” from our regulations

In relation to the course you are running in June, this still can be counted towards a Solicitor’s 16 hours of annual CPD as where solicitors are not opting into our new approach for training, they will still need to complete 16 hours worth of CPD training, however, none of this needs to be accredited.

You may wish to review the information on our website for further information.




Suggested topics for afternoon discussion – from 3.15 – 4.15

Please note these are NOT the workshops! you will find those on the timetable below at B-D.

Suggestions are coming in for the issues most likely to require debate/discussion. Please feel free to contact us to add more. We want to understand what people are most concerned about and what, if anything, we can do to improve.

  • Section 20 agreements – the drift and delay problems. Are there adequate mechanisms in place for review of these? What’s the IRO doing?
  • The anti-authority parent – does disagreeing with or failing to co-operate with a social worker equate to being a ‘bad parent’? What can be done to improve relationships between parents and social workers? These issues are highlighted in the recent Hertfordshire case and discussions over at suesspicious minds. 
  • Risk of future emotional harmRe B [2013] is this an acceptable basis for removing children for adoption?
  • Perception of experts as independent – what should happen if experts in a case are on a ‘paid retainer’ with a LA? also an issue raised in the Hertfordshire case above.
  • Problems with ‘working together’ – example of recent disjunction between family and housing law discussed by Nearly Legal. How do we make sure family courts have the best information about issues they may not be familiar with nor fully understand?
  • Opening up the family courts – the impact on children. Is it likely to be a serious as some fear? What lessons can we learn from other jurisdictions?
  • Impact on care proceedings of the rise of litigants in person – what can be done to improve position for people who won’t get legal aid? see discussions by John Bolch on Marilyn Stowe’s blog.
  • Funding for therapeutic intervention- what options should or could be available for parents who are advised they need lengthy therapy/counselling?
  • How is the UK system viewed in Europe? – note the recent report ‘Social services in Europe: legislation and practice of the removal of children from their families in Council of Europe member States’, in particular para 74 which criticises the refusal of the UK system to reverse adoption orders as a ‘misunderstanding’ of what is in the best interests of a child.


Timetable for the Day

9.15-9.45 Registration
9.45 -10.00 Introduction and welcome Sir Mark Hedley
10.00-10.30 Evaluation of the Evidence Base for current practice Dr Lauren Devine UWE
10.30-11.00 Re-Imagining Child Protection Brigid Featherstone
11.00-11.30 Coffee break
11.30-12.00 Expert reports and assessments; new directions for 2015. Lisa Wolfe and Vicki Ellis
12.00-12.30 Care leavers’ perspectives Kirsty Seddon
12.30-1.15 Parents’ perspectives on the system Introduction by Jerry Londsdale .
1.15-2.00 Lunch Invitations to complete a ‘next steps’ questionnaire online.
2.00 – 3.15 Parallel discussion groups/workshops See below
2.45-3.15 refreshments and informal discussions Post-it note ‘instant’ feedback wall
3.15-4.15 Top table panel lead Q&A discussion Top table of morning’s plenary speakers
4.15 – 4.30 Closing summary, distil the day and key outcomes – call to action? Sarah Phillimore
WORKSHOPS from 2pm to 3.15pm

B. Family Law Toolkit:  how language influences outcomes, achieving best evidence. (including update on test of ‘necessity’ for adoption); Legal aid and exceptional funding, ‘hidden LiPs’ and issues of transparency – what can we talk about? Alice Twaite, Sarah Phillimore, Lucy Reed and Dr Kate Harrington
C. Therapeutic interventions and community support Angela Markham;  The National Parenting Initiative (Jane Auld); Families In Care; The Trauma Recovery Centre (Betsy de Thierry) The Family Rights Group (Cathy Ashley)
D. Good enough parenting?  Positive support for parents with learning difficulties Beth Tarleton and Nadine Tilbury, University of Bristol