So, readers of this blog may have noticed something of a hiatus over the last few months….. What is the reason for this? There’s a clue in the picture below…
The strange thing is that while I’ve been on blog-break, a news story broke about how the islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are the best places to bring up children (isn’t that strange timing?!). The rankings were based on the Children’s Quality of Life Survey, where variables covering education, urbanisation, labour, housing and well-being were summed to give an overall score. There is more information about the survey on the Lloyds banking group website. Orkney was top based on factors such as primary school class sizes, education spending per pupil, population densities etc.
Now, this is an interesting report, partly because of what it says about our collective assumptions about what a ‘good childhood’ looks like (why were these variables selected and not others?). But what also interests me is how this report chimes with a key finding from my previous research: that for island graduates returning to Orkney is associated with ‘settling down’ and having children. What this new national report shows is that the idea that ‘Orkney is a good place to raise children’ is not unique to graduates living in Orkney (the participant group of the previous research) but is actually much wider: based on collective narratives about what a ‘good childhood’ looks like (and consequently the identification of ‘good places’ for child-rearing).
Academically this is interesting and leaves me plenty to ponder, but personally it is also rather reassuring to know that young Baby-Alexander is making her first steps in the ‘best place’ to raise children!