Parenting Forum

The Forum seeks to bring together historians with policy-makers, practitioners and researchers into parenting in order to examine ways in which the history of parenting can influence policies and practice today. Follow the H&P Parenting Forum on Twitter: @HandPParenting

Key aims of the forum include:

  • Providing evidence of policy initiatives that have and haven’t worked in the past providing a corrective to sweeping assumptions in the media;
  • Challenging stereotypes around men and women’s ’natural’ or historical roles in the
  • Exploring why certain developments in policy and individual behaviour have taken place;
  • Reacting to issues raised by forum members working in policy and practice.

Upcoming Events:

2016-2017: Parenting Health and Welfare in History & Policy

In 2016-2017 the Parenting Forum will focus its activities around the theme of Parenting, Health and Welfare in History & Policy. We will hold three workshops bringing together practitioners, local and national policy makers and researchers to discuss the relationship between the historical and contemporary experience of parenting in three key areas, and look at how history can be used to inform current debates.

For all events please contact Angela Davis ( for further details or to book a place).

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Parenting and prisons

This roundtable event will explore how historical perspectives can help those campaigning or working with parents in prison. Please contact Dr Angela Davis (Warwick) for further details or to book a place.

The event will take place at the University of Warwick on 2 March 2017, 11am-1pm.

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Prior Events:

30 Years of ChildLine: A Witness Seminar

In October 2016, ChildLine will celebrate its 30th Anniversary. To mark this event, two historians, Dr Eve Colpus (University of Southampton) and Dr Jenny Crane (University of Warwick, web co-ordinator for History and Policy Parenting Forum) have been funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University of Southampton to organise a witness seminar.

The seminar will be held at the BT Tower on the 1 June, in recognition of the long-standing ties between BT and ChildLine. Our distinguished witnesses include Dame Esther Rantzen (founder of ChildLine), as well as other past and present leaders, counsellors, and researchers from the organisation, including John Cameron (Head of Helplines) and Colin Butler (ChildLine counsellor 1986-present). To shed light on broader medical, charitable, social and political contexts, we will also be joined such informed commentators as David Brindle (Guardian), Sue Minto (NSPCC), Anne Longfield (Children's Commissioner), Mathew Thomson (historian) and Shaun Woodward (former MP).

We hope to use this event to discuss a range of themes, such as how ChildLine has influenced the establishment of children’s helplines in Africa, Asia and Europe; the broadening definition of 'child abuse’ from 1986 to present, incorporating sexual and emotional abuse and neglect; the development of digital platforms, which provide new challenges and opportunities for children and charities; and the changing landscapes of children's health, social responsibility, and individual rights (including the rights of the vulnerable and non-enfranchised) over recent decades. Unifying this diverse range of themes, we would like to pay particular attention to discussing how ChildLine's history can inform its present and future work with children, and the work of government, social work agencies, police and children's services. Following the day itself, the History and Policy Parenting Forum blog will feature a blog describing its key discussions and outcomes.


Working parents and childcare

The 15 July 2015 Parenting Forum roundtable will explore the issue of working parents and childcare. Historians, policy makers and practitioners are invited to this free discussion, at Warwick University, organised by Dr Angela Davis, co-founder of the H&P Parenting Forum and author of Pre-school childcare in England, 1939-2010 (MUP 2015).

For more details and to reserve a place please contact:

The roundtable takes place at the Institute of Advanced Study seminar room at Warwick.


Children’s benefit or burden? Using young people to promote ideas of the future

Workshop, 3 September 2015, King’s College London

What can be learnt from historical research into the use of children as symbols of the future? This workshop brings together historians, archaeologists, NGOs, policy makers and museum professionals to discuss the mobilisation and portrayal of young people in society’s interests, from Vichy France and Britain during the Second World War, to poverty alleviation and child welfare today. Featuring new historical research and NGO expertise, the event will investigate the representation of children and its effects. 

Agents of Future Promise, an AHRC-funded project, seeks to understand the causes and consequences of the ideological use of children in culture and politics in Britain and France, 1880-1950, and the implications for policy and practice today. The project is led by Dr Laura King (Leeds), Dr Vicky Crewe (Cardiff) and Dr Lindsey Dodd (Huddersfield) in partnership with Save the Children and War Child.


Launch of resource packs for Children’s Centres


Children’s Centre Worker Workshop 3

Non-Parental Carers, with Dr Katherine Holden, University of the West of England


Children’s Centre Workers Workshop 2

Engaging with Fathers, with Dr Julie-Marie Strange, University of Manchester


Children’s Centre Workers Workshop 1

Ethnic Minority Families, with Dr Joan Haig, University of Warwick


Parents and children: historical and contemporary perspectives


Births and the collective provision of welfare: the long view, C.1550-2014

Professor Simon Szreter, co-founder of History & Policy and Professor of History and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, gave a public lecture at the University of Leeds on 18th September 2014. This was in association with History & Policy Parenting Forum (Twitter: @HandPParenting), and sponsored by the School of History, University of Leeds, and Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities It was part of a conference entitled 'Birth: Personal Stories to Population Policies'

Professor Szreter has published widely on fertility, sexuality and birth, leading the way in research into demographic, social and economic history, and creating new ways of thinking about why history is important and should have an influence today. His numerous publications include Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain 1860-1940 and Sex before the Sexual Revolution: Intimate Life in England 1918-1963 (with Kate Fisher), and in 2009 he was awarded the Viseltear prize for outstanding contribution to the history of public health. This lecture is entitled ‘Births and the Collective Provision of Welfare - the long view, c.1550-2014’.


Learning from Past Social Policy: The Family and the State in 1970s Britain

Thomas Bray (University of Warwick): The Precursor to Radicalism: The Role of the Family in Social Work’s Encounters with the State from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s Jennifer Crane (University of Warwick): Governing Childhood: The State and Child-Rearing in 1970s Britain Claire Sewell (University of Warwick): Obligation or Duty?: The Emergence of the Family Carer as an Object of Social Policy, c. 1971-76

Our speakers will present short papers on their research into the family and social policy in 1970s Britain followed by time for discussion and debate on how this might inform current policy and practice.


Fathers, birth and bonding

Angela Davis and Laura King from the History and Policy Forum on Parenting will present their research on 'Fathers, birth and bonding' at a British Pregnancy Advisory Service open evening seminar.


Launch Workshop

In this launch workshop of the History & Policy Forum on Parenting, Angela Davis and Laura King, founders of the Forum, outlined the current aims of the network. The workshop included a short presentation on Laura and Angela's latest research into men's changing roles in family life since the 1950s to explore how this research could, and perhaps should, have an impact on policy and practice today.


About Us

With long-established offices in King's College London and the University of Cambridge, H&P is an expanding Partnership currently supported by 6 Higher Education Institutes: King’s College London, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, The University of Edinburgh, University of Leeds, and The University of Sheffield.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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