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Common Language is a product of research and development work by Dartington Social Research Unit and Dartington-i over a five year period. It is a way of thinking applied to attempts to improve outcomes for children in several jurisdictions. It is an attempt to improve the understanding of children in need and society's response to their predicament by using evidence to facilitate communication between those who support their upbringing: parents, practitioners, managers, policy makers and researchers, as well as the children themselves. Since research clearly demonstrates that children's needs cross academic, professional and administrative divides, the project draws on health, education, social and police perspectives and evidence about children in need. Since children's needs are similar from one cultural context to another, Common Language underpins projects in several EU and US states, and exploration of its value in the developing world is being explored.


Common Language encompasses tools to underpin research, development and training in children's services. Children's services are defined as activities organised by health, education, social care, police and youth justice agencies with the purpose of reducing impairment or enhancing children's development. There are nine components listed as menu items to the left of this page. Each of these contains a range of resources and outputs. This site does not represent a finished product. Common Language is a project in continuous development; materials and information are frequently updated and new materials are published on this site as they become available.

The application of Common Language produces learning for the research, development and information design work of the activities associated with the Social Research Unit at Dartington. The best illustrations of recent products are available at the Dartington-i website.


The primary purpose of Common Language is improved outcomes for children in need. The staging posts on the way to that destination are high quality research studies, policy and practice developments leading to new services rigorously evaluated, and innovative ways of working with individual children. Whether the project succeeds or fails depends on its usefulness to researchers, policy makers, managers, practitioners and children and families in need.