Education Observatory

Research in Education at the University of Wolverhampton

Birmingham Children’s Partnership: Ethnographic Research

Funder: Birmingham City Council
Lead researchers: Dr Sal Riordan and Dr Zeta Williams-Brown

Children, Young People & Families
Current Projects
Early Years
Mental health and vulnerability
Overcoming disadvantage

Birmingham Children’s Partnership (BCP) has commissioned the Education Observatory to carry out an ethnographic, qualitative research study exploring the lived experience of 30 local children and young people (CYP) and their families.

The Birmingham Children’s Partnership ethnographic project is investigating families past and present experiences of Birmingham City services, including education, health, community and faith group organisations.  It aims to include families who have and are having a diverse range of experiences, including contact with the care system, the youth justice system and/or with SEND, unemployment, poverty, domestic abuse, substance abuse and mental ill-health related experiences.  The project is using a participatory approach where families can choose from various socially distanced, engaging and interactive data collection methods including discussions with a key worker who is already involved with the family, drawings, journal entries, photographs, and voice recordings. 

It is anticipated that the stories that emerge from the research study will be used internally by BCP partners to inform the redesign of services, and support or contrast findings within their own internal reports.  One of the key outcomes is to put the families’ stories in a book that will help Birmingham professionals (including teachers, police officers and social workers) to understand the challenges faced by children growing up in Birmingham today.

Expected outcomes also include:

  • Workshops with professionals working in Birmingham City Council
  • Feedback events for each family at the end of the project in a format and structure that is guided by them.  This may include reporting outcomes from the workshops and/or presenting the CYP’s finalised customer journey map and narrative in an online call.
  • CYP journey maps.  Having created initial versions of the CYP journey maps with the children and young people, graphic designers will be employed to put these visualisations into their final form. They will graphically show the interactions and experiences of children and young people with Birmingham City’s services.

The project commenced in November 2020 and concludes in August 2021.