About Alison Sutton
Specialist in child development, education and behaviour
Over 30 years of experience working with children and parents as a teacher, practising orthopedagogue,
researcher, policy advisor, trainer and
developer of GIZ-methodology
Passions alongside work and friends
My parents’ passion became mine
Sitting at the dining room table in my parents’ school, (Maldon Court Preparatory School in Essex, England), I was fascinated as a little girl by the discussions about how to stimulate individual children’s well-being and learning. My parents’ passion for their work was infectious. It sparked in me a lifelong interest in bringing out the best in children and the professionals who work with them.
Campaigning for sick children
My first job was as national editor and fundraiser for the British charity NAWCH (the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital). Inspired by John Bowlby's groundbreaking work on Attachment Theory, NAWCH campaigned for parents to be able to stay overnight with their hospitalised children. At that time, hospital visiting hours were strictly limited. As an asthmatic who'd been in and out of hospital a lot as a child, I knew what that felt like.
Teacher and coach
Since then, and since graduating with degrees in American and Commonwealth literature, in English and Drama teaching and in Child Development, Behaviour and Education from the universities of Exeter, Cambridge and Leiden, I've been privileged to work with families and professionals from many different backgrounds. I’ve continued to learn and to apply all that I have learned from my many inspirational teachers, both as a parent and in my work as a child behaviour specialist here in the Netherlands.
Initially as a researcher, then as a practitioner and advisor within three of the Netherlands' largest youth and family organizations, and now as an independent advisor and trainer within my own company, Childrearing Matters, I’ve never believed that expertise resides purely in ivory towers. My experience is that only through listening carefully to parents and children and by respecting their own innate wisdom can we find durable solutions to the developmental, behavioral and childrearing challenges within our families and society.
Since the GIZ-methodology’s nomination for a national youth care award in 2014 and its uptake in 2015 in the Dutch guideline on involving families in decision-making, I decided to set up the GIZ-methodology foundation. This to support the (further) development and proper implementation of the GIZ-methododology and other family-friendly innovations in the Netherlands.
New Pyramid of Strength (PoS) schemes
I continue to improve the GIZ-methodology, inspired by new scientific insights and feedback from the practitioners and families I work with. The colourful Pyramid of Strength (PoS) schemes represent the latest innovations.
Working at both ‘helicopter’ (statistics-oriented) and ‘grass roots’ (personal) levels has fuelled the out-of-the-box, solution-focussed, inclusive thinking that underpins all Childrearing Matters’ products and services. Synthesising wisdom from many perspectives has helped me to unite families, practitioners, researchers, policymakers, managers and trainers in learning. I have found that in this way everyone can share in the joy of helping each other to thrive. This last, above all, is what it means for me to be an Orthopedagogue.
I look forward to meeting you in 2018!
I just want to thank here all my beloved family and friends who have kept my faith alive in the face of loss and enabled me, like my parents, to go on strengthening other families. Without your love and support this may have been a different story.