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Sue Palmer – Toxic Childhood

Sue Palmer – Toxic Childhood

The social science department welcomed a leading sociologist, Sue Palmer into Blackpool Sixth on Thursday 20th October.

Sue Palmer was a former headteacher in Scotland, and has written more than 250 books, educational TV programmes and software packages on aspects of literacy and childhood. Sue‘s work on child development and literacy has contributed greatly to the way in which young children experience literacy and language throughout primary education.

Sue‘s first book for the wider audience, Toxic Childhood (Orion 2006) focuses on the effects of childhood on child development and learning in a modern society. Sue continued her research and with Detoxing Childhood (2007) and 21st Century Boys (2009) and 21st century girls (2013). These books have led to involvement in many campaigns related to modern childhood, and invitations to speak to a wide range of audiences, including health, social work and criminal justice professionals, playworkers, planners, advertisers and parents. They have also led to many articles and interviews in the national press, as well as frequent TV and radio appearances.

Sue has acted over the years as an independent consultant to many organisations, including the Department for Education and Skills, the National Literacy Trust and the BBC. In recent years she’s been an independent consultant on childhood issues to the Conservative Party in England, the Labour Party in Scotland and the National Childcare Committee in Ireland. She’s twice been listed by the Evening Standard amongst the 1000 most influential people in London (which gives her great pleasure, since she lives in Edinburgh) and described in The Scotsman as one of Scotland’s ‘new radical thinkers’.

In addition to her wider research Sue has designed and written several literacy training packages for the Department for Education and Skills in England, including co-authorship of the National Literacy Strategy Grammar resulting in significant retraining and delivery of grammar within primary education.

Sue delivered a series of lectures to Blackpool Sixth staff and students about concerns connected to the development of children and gender identity as a result of a growth in technology. She discussed her research into the lack of ‘real play’ in children’s lives today and explained the intentions of her new book ‘Upstart’ that proposes children should begin their formal education at the age of 7 along with 88% of other countries. Sue also discussed the long term effects of technology on our society and outlined suggestions on how humans must adapt to the fast pace changes that our taking place in our lives today.

Upper sixth student Jacob Morris said “I really enjoyed the lecture, it was great to hear from Sue and meet her as she is someone we studied in first year sociology.”