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  • Writer's pictureEllie Costello

Farewell 2021, hello 2022!

It's been a busy time here at Square Peg as Fran stepped away to enjoy early retirement. Although - she hasn't entirely disappeared as she has remained to oversee the delivery and publication of our book, 'Square Pegs' and has done an incredible job wrangling and weaving the many threads that make up our manuscript, the design and huge amount of preparation for publication. She and Ian (Gilbert / Independent Thinking Press, our Editor) have been razor sharp in focus and we are counting the sleeps already to launch day!

We’d like to give Fran an everlasting bucketful of gratitude for her phenomenal hard work and commitment in representing every single one of our children and families. It has been an absolute honour and privilege to work with her and we hope to build on the many successes and foundations she has put in place.

We couldn't let this opportunity pass without sharing some important discussions Square Peg were asked to join in the run-up to the festive season.

In November we joined a Panel discussion hosted by Now Teach and were delighted to be invited by Professor Harry Daniels of Oxford University's Department of Education, to join an Excluded Lives webinar on Understanding Persistent Absence. The event was hugely oversubscribed and continues to be shared now. We also took part in an ACAMH panel discussion exploring the impact of Covid on school children's mental health.

As the new year started, Square Peg welcomed some new team members - vital as Fran left a gaping hole behind and after much of our campaigning around persistent absence and barriers to attendance finally embedded, Covid catalysed the issue to become a Government and Ministerial priority. More of this in our next update...

For now, here's the low down on our new dream team!

Dr. Chris Bagley, esteemed Educational Psychologist, writer, campaigner and advocate for all children and young people pushed to the margins, joins Square Peg as a Director. Chris is Director of Research at States of Mind and a lecturer, tutor and doctorate research supervisor at The Institute of Education, UCL. He has published a number of academic articles in Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties and Educational Psychology in Practice, alongside opinion pieces in The Independent, Byline Times and The Psychologist. Chris co-delivers 'Participatory Action Research' projects, led by young people and supported by doctorate researchers at the Institute of Education with a focus on evaluating education systems and actioning change.

Twitter: @hiddendepths

Fresh from submitting her PhD focussing on capturing families’ lived experiences of barriers to school attendance and extended absence from school, your very own Beth Bodycote is joining Square Peg as an Associate. Beth’s expertise on persistent absence is second to none. We are phenomenally excited about the completion of her PhD and cannot wait until its publication. Beth will be assisting Chris and Ellie to develop our consultation offer and will be overseeing our links with academics and work on research, policy and practice.

Rebecca Crooks joins us as a parent who has previous experience of working in Children’s Quality Standards at Lincolnshire County Council. Ellie was fortunate to hear Rebecca deliver training to Lincolnshire’s schools and governors on persistent absence where she shared her own journey as a parent to a child struggling to attend school. Her presentation was outstanding and we’re so pleased she said yes to joining us. Rebecca will also be helping to develop our consultation offer and oversee the numerous training requests we are now receiving.

And last, but by no means least, Ben Wainwright is joining the team as Consulting Data Engineer & Analyst. Ben describes himself as a socio-technologist. Whilst studying for his Master's degree in Computer Science with Innovation he developed an interest in the interactions between society and technology. He applies this interest across the realms of wellness & performance training, cyber security and data science. Underlying all of Ben’s work is a passion for social mobility – the belief that a person’s circumstances should not dictate their opportunities. As a data scientist, he strives to build an evidence-based view of the world; discovering new insights and highlighting the groups of people that are missing from the data. With Square Peg, Ben is creating a software tool consolidating several datasets to provide a holistic view and to enable deeper exploration of the issues surrounding persistent absence in schools.

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