Professor Anne SmithIn her inaugural lecture last week as the School’s NZ-UK Link Visiting Professor for 2013, Anne Smith outlined how New Zealand’s early childhood system became a model of best practice for the recognition of children’s rights in early childhood education. She also highlighted the threats posed by current fiscal policies to its ongoing integrity.

The well-attended event attracted around 100 guests including representatives from Barnardos, Save the Children, the NSPCC, the National Children’s Bureau, and leading academics in child studies including Emeritus Professor Priscilla Alderson from the Institute of Education, Ted Melhuish from Birkbeck, Naomi Eisenstadt CB from the University of Oxford, and Alison Clark from the Open University. The UK Children’s Commissioner, Dr Maggie Atkinson, was also in attendance. Professor Ann Phoenix of the Thomas Coram Research Unit and Vicki Lant, Head of Children’s Centres at Barnardo’s, each gave a response to Anne’s paper. 

The event, the first in a series of free public lectures by Anne, was hosted by Liesbeth de Block from the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education and supported by Barnardos. It was chaired by Emeritus Professor Peter Moss, also of the Institute. Deputy High Commissioner Rob Taylor from the New Zealand High Commission introduced Professor Smith.

Emeritus Professor Anne Smith, from the University of Otago’s College of Education, is a highly respected specialist in childhood studies and children’s rights. She has been involved in research, advocacy, and policy-making on childhood issues in New Zealand for almost 40 years.

Image of NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting Professor Anne Smith giving her inaugural lecture at the Institute of Education

Representatives from think tanks and the voluntary sector included the Anna Freud Centre and SQW Consulting, which provides research, analysis and advice on sustainable economic and social development for public, private and not-for-profit organisations. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) was represented by Director, Paola Uccellari.

Gabriella Jozwiak from Children and Young People Now reported on the event. In her article, ‘Childcare reforms based on outdated models, say critics’, Gabriella highlights the criticism by the experts present at the lecture of the government’s current policy to reform childcare on the basis of models used in France and the Netherlands.

The NZ-Link Foundation Visiting Professorship is offered in association with SAS. Professor Smith is based at the School between April and June 2013.

Future lectures by Professor Anne Smith:

Entry is free and all are welcome. For registration information, please visit