National Conference September 2020

What about the children? – a critical question in a time of change.

This year What About The Children? will be holding their 2020 national conference online via a series of webinars. Webinars will take place at 10.30am to 12pm on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 9th September Dr Anna Machin‘Becoming Dad : the science of fatherhood’
  • Wednesday 16th September- Dr Sebastian Kraemer - ‘Our collective neglect of childhood’
  • Wednesday 23rd SeptemberMandy Cuttler - ‘LEYF Changing the world one child at a time’
  • Wednesday 30th September Sonia Jackson - ‘Invisible children: babies and toddlers in foster care’

To book click the link to Eventbrite

Cost £20 for the series of 4 webinars. Places are limited to allow for interactive discussions.

Conference theme

Babies & children are not commodities, their wellbeing is critical for their future and to the government's post Covid 19 recovery strategy. The pandemic brought far more change than any of us could have predicted back in September 2019 when What About The Children? the national children's charity, decided on the title for its 2020 conference. Despite the change we have experienced over the past months, babies' need for appropriately responsive loving care and secure infant parent attachment has not changed. Science provides the evidence that confirms the critical stage of infant brain development from conception to age three for future physical and mental health. This series of webinars centres around how and why investment in the wellbeing of young children, their home and family is vital for an effective economy.


Speakers Biographical Information.

Dr Anna Machin is an evolutionary anthropologist, writer and broadcaster. She is world renowned for her work exploring the science behind our closest human relationship including those between lovers, parents and children and friends. She has a particular interest in the science of fatherhood including the biological changes a man undergoes as he transitions to fatherhood, the nature and development of the attachment between father and child and the role for fathers in child development. She is passionate about campaigning and recognition for fathers as co-parents.

Anna is the author of ‘The Life of Dad: the making of the Modern Father ( Simon and Schuster 2018)


Dr. Sebastian Kraemer “Man and woman power devoted to the production of material goods counts a plus in all our economic indices. Man and woman power devoted to the production of happy, healthy, and self-reliant children in their own homes does not count at all. We have created a topsy-turvy world”*

Written a third of a century ago, John Bowlby’s words were an admonishment of our social priorities. Thanks to him and his colleagues and successors, much has been learned about early development since then, yet there remains a stubborn, collective indifference to children’s lives that needs explaining. I will start a discussion on that to see if we can come up with any answers.

Sebastian Kraemer is an Honorary Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the Tavistock & Portman Trust. After a degree in philosophy, and a short stint as a school teacher, he qualified in medicine exactly 50 years ago. He trained first in paediatrics then in psychiatry, including attendance in Bowlby’s Tavistock seminars in 1977. In 1980 he was appointed Consultant clinician and trainer at the Tavistock Clinic, and emergency and liaison psychiatrist in the paediatric department of the Whittington Hospital, finally retiring from the front line in 2015. He continues to work regularly with NHS staff groups in primary care, child health, psychiatry, general medicine and in a therapeutic community. A few times a year he supervises the staff of Pen Green Children’s Centre in Corby, Northamptonshire. A selection of his writing, some of it based on conference presentations, is at

* John Bowlby A Secure Base 1988 p. 22


Mandy Cuttler Pedagogy Mentor – London Early Years Foundation

As part of the Learning and Development team Mandy’s role is to support the high-quality delivery of the unique LEYF Pedagogy across all the Nurseries, in line with LEYF’s ambitions and values, organisational philosophy, and with a social enterprise approach. Mandy has worked in early years for 17 years in a variety of roles, including Baby Room Manager and Nursery Manager. Mandy holds a Masters Degree in Early Years Education from the Institute of Education, with a focus on the experiences of children under 2 attending early years settings.

LEYF is the UK's leading childcare social enterprise, and champions community-based, multi-generational early years education as the basis for greater social and cultural capital to deliver long-term social impact. We also advise Governments as well as a range of organisations, academics and services at home and overseas about how best to implement a social enterprise vision for Early Years.


Prof. Sonia Jackson OBE is an Emeritus Professor at University College London. After graduating from Cambridge, she worked as a primary school teacher, child psychologist and social worker and managed an educational advice service before moving into university teaching and research. Her studies cover a broad range of children’s issues, from childminding and day care to the education of children in care, young people in further and higher education (a five-country study) and university students with a care background. Her current research addresses the missing link between early years care and education and the care of children looked after away from home.

Her book, People Under Three, originally written with Elinor Goldschmied, and now in its third edition, has been translated into five languages, including Korean. It has had a transformative influence on the care and experiences offered to the youngest children in day care.