There has been a lot said in the media about children’s participation and student voice. As an advocate for children’s voice and a participation practitioner I thought i’d say what was on my mind and give you a few suggestions about how to make participation work and, more importantly, work well!
Lets get something straight
Every child, 0-18, has the fundamental RIGHT to express his or her views freely – about everything that affects him or her. This is stated in Article 12 of the UN convention on the rights of the child. http://www.crae.org.uk/rights/uncrc.html
This is what we call participation; being involved in the decision making process and making a change. When practiced correctly, participation can enhance the quality of work done with and for children and young people benefitting the service provider and the children and young people who use it.
Here is my first suggestion for good participation.
1. IT IS NOT A WISH LIST!
Just because a child wants a roller coaster in the town centre doesn’t mean they can have one. This is a negotiation; a partnership between all stakeholders. It is ok to tell children and young people they can’t have something as long as we say WHY!
Tune in next week for Part 2