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  • Northside East

Darndale initiative is discussed at Oxford University  

Friday, 1st December, 2017 6:00pm
Darndale initiative is discussed at Oxford University  

The Preparing for Life team bids farewell to Oxford University ethnographer Dr Rodolfo Maggio.

Darndale initiative is discussed at Oxford University  

The Preparing for Life team bids farewell to Oxford University ethnographer Dr Rodolfo Maggio.

IT might come as a surprise to hear that in 2016, a community initiative in north Dublin was being discussed and analysed by anthropologists at Oxford University outside London. 

This programme, Preparing for Life (PFL), is a community-led initiative operated by the Northside Partnership from offices at Darndale Belcamp’s Bell Building. 

The PFL programme aims to improve levels of school readiness in several designated disadvantaged areas of Dublin, beginning during pregnancy and lasting until the children start school. 

The purpose of the programme is to help parents develop skills to help their children in five domains of school readiness including: cognitive development; physical health and motor skills; social, emotional and behavioural development; approaches to learning; and language development and literacy.

The programme originally caught the attention of UCD’s Geary Institute who carried out a six-year study of the initiative. 

What was learned from UCD’s evaluation was that the programme works, - it does have a positive impact on children. 

What the anthropologists at Oxford University wanted to know was, why and how does it work? 

This is where Dr Rodolfo Maggio stepped in. Dr Maggio, an ethnographic researcher with a focus on early intervention ethics, based himself in Darndale to observe the relationships between PFL’s mentors and the families they work with. Critics of early intervention programmes argue that there are judgemental elements to early childhood intervention programmes that make mothers feel that they are not good enough. 

Dr Maggio said that this is not the case in Preparing for Life, where he observed the relationships between mentors and families to be open minded and genuine. 

“The mentors’ principles are to not be judgemental,” he said. “They are sincere. They do not want to come in with an attitude that will be detrimental to the relationship. This is not just a duty for them though; this is a feature of their personalities.”

These initial findings will be expanded on and published in the next 12 months as Dr Maggio returns to Oxford University to complete the study.

•Ethnography is the systematic study of people and cultures.


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