The importance of participation
Participation is central
Participation is the keystone of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), recognising children as active citizens. In turn, it is integral to the government’s ‘Change for Children’ agenda and the 'Children and Young People’s Plan' in Hampshire. In schools, and increasingly among the communities they serve, the rights, respect and responsibility programme is the central vehicle for identifying and developing participation in the curriculum and across the life of the school.
“Children and young people are valued as essential contributors in the decisions that affect them, and in the planning and delivery of services that support and meet their needs … so that all children have the best start in life. We must never underestimate the contribution they can make and the fresh approach they bring. All children, young people and families have a right to the skills and opportunities that enable them to make good life choices, support themselves and the needs of others, and achieve more than they thought possible.”
John Coughlan, Director of Children’s Services, Hampshire
'Guide to developing a participation strategy for children, young people and families: for services across Hampshire' (Hampshire County Council, March 2006)
Schools which are advancing a culture of democracy, shared decision making and consultation (within teaching and learning as well as their organisational structures) are those for which RRR will have deep impact and authentic meaning both in school and beyond.
Participation increases self-esteem and personal control in the lives of children, young people and families, and fosters mutual respect and shared responsibility. It is empowering.
Here is what some others say about participation, from 'Guide to developing a participation strategy for children, young people and families: for services across Hampshire' (Hampshire County Council, March 2006):
"The best way for adults to find out what children think is to be an asking and listening sort of adult … respecting children and what they think and say. Also, children themselves need to be ready to tell adults what they think … . If the child trusts them enough, then they will say."
Younger children’s views on 'Every child matters', National Event 2005
"Participation refers to (young) people taking an active part in the project or process, not just as consumers but also as key contributors to the direction and implementation of it. (Young) people are proactive in this process and have the power to help shape the process – their views have the same value as the adults they are working alongside."
"Participation helps people to discover their potential, to realise their talents and raise their self-esteem. In turn this can help them to question their boundaries and explore issues, voice aspirations, identify needs and facilitate their learning and personal development."
Helen Chambers, Principal Officer, National Children’s Bureau