Following a year-long feasibility study led by Professor Berry Mayall and Suzanne Hood from the Social Science Research Unit (SSRU) at the Institute of Education, University of London, Hackney was chosen as the host borough with Keith Jennings appointed in 1997 as the first A Space Director, a position he held until 2000 when Lyn French took up the post. A Space was allocated facilities at the former Kingsland Secondary School with a brief to offer its programme to their pupils and Kingsland’s key feeder primary schools. A Steering Group was introduced with the Chair held by Nicola Baboneau, former Head Teacher, then based in Hackney Education leading on the Schools Plus agenda. Alex Sainsbury was a member from the start with Elinor Jansz joining mid-2000s. All remain active in overseeing the current service along with the ArtSpace Trustees.
Collaboration and learning
Establishing A Space as a national organisation was never an intention. Instead, the A Space programme was designed to be used as a form of practice-based research, trialling different ways to meet the needs of children and adolescents and to introduce staff to applied ideas from psychoanalysis. From 2010 to 2014, A Space undertook a four-year study into identifying best practices for school-based therapy conducted in partnership with the Centre for Psycho-social and Psychoanalytic Studies at University of Essex. Since then, A Space has continued to work in close partnership with teachers, universities, and educators to build first-hand knowledge of what works best in school-based therapy as well as promoting a culture of emotional literacy.
Where we are now
Today, the A Space team focuses on providing psychological services for students in targeted schools in east London; a counselling, supervision, and consultation service for school staff; grant-specific initiatives with Iniva; and sharing our learning through publishing, teaching, and supervising in the wider community. In keeping with our original objectives, we aim to support colleagues as well as clients in evolving our understanding of relationship dynamics, improving resilience for dealing with the complexities of contemporary life and identifying strengths so that we can build on them. ‘How do we live well with others?’ is a question we continue to foreground in all areas of our work.