Our conferences help us achieve one of our five strategic aims as an organisation: to lead and develop the children’s sector workforce, so that it is more skilled, knowledgeable and better placed to deliver improved outcomes for all children.
We provide a vital opportunity for the children’s sector, and young people themselves, to be represented, heard and to exchange learning and best practice in order to make change.
We run one-day conferences, which usually cover specific themes, as well as our main, annual conference, which is traditionally held over two-days spanning broader themes.
Early Years Conference 2023
This conference will explore the current landscape of the Early Years sector in Scotland and share learning on how we can ensure the diverse needs of children and families are supported.
The theme of the day, ‘building blocks for change’, reflects our aim for this conference to be an active learning experience, and one that equips practitioners, managers and service providers with practical strategies they can apply to their role.
The day will include an opening keynote speech, followed by four workshops, finished by an active networking activity. There will be additional networking opportunities integrated throughout the event.
Chair: Jane Brumpton, CEO Early Years Scotland
Mental Health Conference 2023
This one-day conference in May 2023 aimed to 'dig deeper' into how we can use intersectional approaches to improve children and young people’s mental health. Delegates explored how a range of inequalities in our society can compound to affect children's mental health, as well as what we can do to better support young people and their families.
This conference delivered content through keynote speakers, interactive workshops and guided self-care activities.
Our delegates said:
- "It was a warm, lively and interesting event. I liked the focus on systems of power and oppression"
- "All the speakers were fantastic - very appropriate and informative. The balance of listening and activities was really good"
- "I loved the balance of sharing practice, hearing research and experience of self-care"
Annual Conference 2022
Our annual conference has been running for as long as Children in Scotland has been in operation – almost 30 years – and returned in 2022 after a hiatus caused by the Covid pandemic.
The 2022 event was an opportunity for delegates to reconnect, reflect and reimagine the way they delivered services and ran projects after a challenging three years and in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.
Our delegates said:
- “A truly inspiring, worthwhile, useful, engaging day.” - Anonymous attendee
- "An absolute privilege to spend time meeting so many people who all want better for all of our children” - Julie Bell, HeadStrong
- "“A great day at Children in Scotland's Annual conference. It was great sharing the stage with Enquire and Indigo Childcare to discuss what is needed to support children with complex needs accessing early years.”- Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairment
- “Carefully thought through and curated. Well done to the young people involved in co-design and delivery.” - Anonymous attendee
While we’re always open to testing out new ideas, there are some consistent features to of all our conferences, whether it’s a singular event exploring dedicated policy areas or our flagship annual event. These are:
- Keynote speakers talking passionately about their learning, research and personal perspectives
- Workshops sharing latest findings from projects and work with young people and families
- Children and young people driving decisions about the event, from development to delivery to evaluation
- Clear crossover with our policy positions and our 2021-26 Manifesto.
Demonstrating our commitment to amplifying the voice of the sector, ahead of our annual conference we appeal for ideas for workshops and carefully consider all submissions.
In 2022, the process resulted in 25 varied and exciting workshops run across two days, with topics ranging from supporting LGBT young people to expressive arts experiences and the voice of the child.
For bespoke conferences, often delivered with partnership organisations, we select workshop ideas to best capture themes and meet delegates’ professional development needs.
Young people's voices
Whether it’s our annual conference or a bespoke conference event, the involvement of children and young people is of critical importance. At the 2022 annual conference, for example, our youth advisory group was involved in shaping all aspects of the event.
As Changing our World member Shuman said of the 2022 event, “My favourite part of planning the annual conference was sharing my ideas with others and seeing what they think. Alongside that I enjoyed learning about how to plan and organise a conference.”
This commitment to young people’s input aligns with our 2021-26 Manifesto, the role and input of our youth advisory group Changing our World, and our Participation Guidelines.