Coproduction at its heart: working with parents in Bournemouth
Co-production of training is a fantastic thing
Well. Here it is, chaps. Co-production of training is a fantastic thing. It works, it really, really works. It brings theory to life, adding a personal, human element to the results of research.
Linwood School in Bournemouth holds the Autism Education Trust licence for Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, & has been delivering into schools & Early Years settings for a few years now. We are currently working with NHS England & the Parent Carer Forum as part of a national NHS England Autism in Schools project to develop autism awareness in schools. The project has co-producing with parents and young people at its heart which is something we also embrace.
So, a plan was devised.
A plan to offer support to parents, to help them to understand what their children might be experiencing, & to share the personal experiences of parents & young autistic people. The starting point for this was the AET’s ‘Making Sense of Autism’ programme, which we deliver to schools across our area. The starting point for this was the AET’s ‘Making Sense of Autism’ programme, which we deliver to schools across our area. A bit of tweaking & that was ready to go, made bespoke to the parental perspective. Next, a colleague of mine at Linwood, who has personal experience of parenting a neurodiverse child, drew together a presentation entitled ‘What I wish I had known’ – tips & hints gleaned from her own life story. Then, we worked with a post 16 student from Linwood who was already part of the delivery team for the schools’ programme - he contributes by being interviewed about his experiences, what helped him, as well as what didn’t. Add in some discussion time, plenty of tea, coffee & biscuits & we were ready to go.
'You are an inspiration to me’
The nerves were jangling a bit, but the three of us were excited for this! The three elements of the session were absolutely embraced by the parents in attendance, evidenced in the short evaluations that we asked them to complete, but it was the personal elements that resonated the most strongly & meant the most to them. One dad approached my post 16 student at the end & said ‘You are an inspiration to me’. A mum approached my parent colleague & said ‘You have given me hope. I know now that I need to talk to people about my child.’ This training is making a difference.
We are planning 16 more of these events between now & Christmas, we are reaching more than 400 families across our area, and it is my absolute privilege to be a part of it. If you are wary of co-produced training, take a leap of faith. Because it works. It really, really works.