Royal visit marks early childhood campaign launch

The Princess of Wales joined a teaching session at the University on Tuesday 31 January as she continued the launch of her new national campaign. 

The Princess of Wales talks with students at the School of Education

Shaping Us aims to raise awareness and promote the importance of positive early childhood experiences in shaping adults and future society.  

Her Royal Highness took part in an introductory session to a second-year module on the School of Education’s BA (Hons) Childhood Studies course. It followed a visit earlier in the day to Leeds’ iconic Kirkgate Market, where she discussed early childhood with vendors and members of the community. 

During her visit to the Esther Simpson Building, she also talked to students about their studies and discussed the issues highlighted by a Shaping Us short film.  

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor and President, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Princess of Wales to the University and take the opportunity to tell her about our incredible early childhood teaching and research.  We fully support Shaping Us, which reflects the University’s wider ambition to help create a fairer and more equal society for all.”  

Shaping Us is a new, long-term campaign from The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood which aims to transform the issue from one of scientific interest to one of the most strategically important topics of our time. 

Spearheaded by The Princess of Wales, with support from a range of high-profile figures from the world of media, music, science and sports, the campaign begins with the release of a short film, highlighting how babies and children develop in response to their earliest experiences. 

Dr Katie Gathercole BA (Hons), Childhood Studies Programme Leader, said: “It’s wonderful that the Princess of Wales is so committed to highlighting the importance of positive early childhood experiences. The campaign message is very much aligned with the foundation of our Childhood Studies programme at the University of Leeds – ensuring all children have the very best start to life, and are provided with the right support to progress into adulthood and lead healthy, successful and rewarding lives.  

“We have excellent students on the course. I’m delighted that they have been given the opportunity to meet Her Royal Highness, and it is fantastic to see the shared commitment to improving the lives of children and young people.  

“On our Childhood Studies programme, we examine aspects of childhood through a multidisciplinary lens, including education, psychology, sociology and social policy.  

“Early childhood development is fundamental to the course and our students learn about the importance of fostering a nurturing, safe and secure environment in which to grow up, and the role all members of society have in facilitating this. It is great to see this aspect of childhood being highlighted in the new campaign.”  

Professor Vanessa Kind, Head of the School of Education, said: “The Princess’s visit supports the ongoing excellent work of the Childhood Studies programme team and students. The School of Education has a long-standing and well-established tradition of impactful research in childhood. It was fantastic to be able to showcase some of this to Her Royal Highness today.”  

The BA (Hons) Childhood Studies course offers a broad approach to understanding childhood and youth – supporting students in pursuing a wide range of careers including teaching, social work, child and family law, and youth and community work. 

Taught by experts in education, anthropology, psychology, sociology and social policy – key disciplines in the study of childhood and youth – it examines some of the fundamental issues concerning childhood and youth in the UK and internationally.  

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