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Children, Young People and Participation Dr Kay Tisdall Programme Director, MSc in Childhood Studies University of Edinburgh

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1 Children, Young People and Participation Dr Kay Tisdall Programme Director, MSc in Childhood Studies University of Edinburgh

2 You are the manager of a day nursery. The Care Commission is coming to inspect. Your staff ask you – what does this standard mean? Children and young people will have opportunities to express their views, exercise choice and, where possible, influence the programme. (Standard 5.4)

3 The good news story The participation of children and young people in ‘public’ decision-making has gained unprecedented policy prominence. The participation of children and young people in ‘public’ decision-making has gained unprecedented policy prominence. Children’s rights to participate are increasingly recognised in the UK, in official government policy and legislation. This has been greatly assisted by the UNCRC. Children’s rights to participate are increasingly recognised in the UK, in official government policy and legislation. This has been greatly assisted by the UNCRC. Services are increasingly expected to involve children and young people. Services are increasingly expected to involve children and young people. Participation activities have proliferated. Participation activities have proliferated.

4 1. Is it clear what the purpose of the participation is? Is it purposeful or just a ‘tick box’? 2. Which children are included? 3. How do we (adults) interpret what children are saying? 4. How do children’s views fit amongst other stakeholders? 5. Is the participation meaningful to those involved? 6. Is the participation having any impact on decisions? 7. Is the participation ethical? (Sinclair 2004) What challenges do you face?

5 Discourses of Participation 1. To uphold children’s rights 2. To fulfil legal responsibilities 3. To improve services 4. To improve decision-making 5. To enhance democratic processes 6. To promote children’s protection 7. To enhance children’s skills 8. To empower and enhance self-esteem Sinclair and Franklin 2000

6 What is not there? Performance Performance Political mobilisation and emancipation Political mobilisation and emancipation Age discrimination Age discrimination

7 Back to the vignette … The involvement of young children The involvement of young children A fixation on ‘voice’? A fixation on ‘voice’? The role of adults The role of adults You are the manager of a day nursery. The Care Commission is coming to inspect. Your staff ask you – what does this standard mean? Children and young people will have opportunities to express their views, exercise choice and, where possible, influence the programme. (Standard 5.4)

8 References Sinclair, R. and Franklin, A., “Young People’s Participation” Quality Protects Research Briefing (2000) accessed at ( ) Sinclair, R. (2004) ‘Participation in practice: making it meaningful, effective and sustainable’, Children & Society, 18(2): Related papers Tisdall, E.K.M. (2009) ‘Governance, Civil Society and Participation’, in Percy-Smith, B. and Thomas, N. (eds) A Handbook of Children’s Participation, London: Routledge. (forthcoming) Tisdall, E.K.M. (2008) “The rise of a new profession? Children’s participation workers”, in Allan, J., Ozga, J. and Smyth, G. (Eds) Social Capital, Professionalism and Diversity, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. (forthcoming) Tisdall, E.K.M. (2008) ‘Is the honeymoon over? Children and Young People’s Participation in Public Decision-Making’ International Journal of Children’s Rights, Special Issue 16(3): Tisdall, E.K.M., Davis, J.M. and Gallagher, M. (2008) ‘Reflecting upon children and young people’s participation in the UK‘, International Journal of Children’s Rights, Special Issue 16(3): Tisdall, E.K.M. and Bell, R. (2006) ‘Included in Governance? Children’s participation in ‘public’ decision-making’ in Tisdall, E.K.M., Davis, J., Hill, M. and Prout, A. (Eds) Children, young people and social inclusion: participation for what? Bristol: Policy Press, pp Tisdall, K. and Davis, J. (2004) ‘Making a Difference? Bringing children’s and young people’s views into policy-making’ Children & Society 18(2): Hill, M., Davis, J., Prout, A. and Tisdall, K. (2004) ‘Moving the participation agenda forward’ Children & Society 18(2):


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