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Getting It Right For Every Child - Children and young people's experiences of advocacy support and participation in the Children's Hearings System: Big Words and Big Tables


Annex 3
Advocacy Support for Children and Young People in the Children's Hearings System

Research Interview Schedule for children/young people


To find out about children and young people's experiences of participating in their Children's Hearings and the efficacy of advocacy arrangements provided


  • To explore what advocacy, participation and representation mean to children/young people and their experiences of them
  • To consider the child/young person's experience of Children's Hearings and advocacy support
  • To discuss the role of different people people involved providing advocacy/enabling support for the child/young person and what worked/works
  • To explore the extent to which the children/young person felt they were able to influence the outcomes of their Hearings
  • To discuss they ways in which children/young people feel that advocacy can best be provided

Consent process

  • Meet with child/young person and parents/carers before Hearing
  • Introduce self
  • Provide with information materials and explain the research
  • Ask if interested
  • If yes, ask if okay to get in touch within the next 7 days once had an opportunity to look at the materials and to check happy to take part and to arrange a time and place for the interview - discuss possible places at this stage
  • If no, thank for their time
  • Discuss parental/carer consent if under 16
  • Contact within 7-14 days of meeting

At the interview

Check the child/young person still has a copy of the leaflet. Ask if have had an opportunity to look at it. Go through it and discuss any issues, which it highlights.

Make sure the following are covered:

  • The child protection policy: Highlight that we will not talk to other people about what you say unless we are worried that you or someone else might not be safe or in serious danger of getting hurt.
  • Discuss how the information will be used (in a report, but what each individual says will not be disclosed to anyone except the researchers) and how the information will be anonymised (use of pseudonyms).
  • Recording - introduce the tape recorder, explain how it works and agree how the session will be recorded.
  • Discuss consent issues and agree ways to enable the child/young person to opt out it they want to of certain questions or the research interview. (Use of red card for stopping/moving on at any time.)
  • Written consent.
  • Discuss with the young person how they prefer to do the interview, for example, would they prefer to have an open discussion, to do activities, to write, or to draw.
  • Agree a good amount of time for the interview to take/time to finish by.

Interview Topics

1. Finding out about the child/young person

Introductions - what age s/he is, whether s/he has brothers and sisters, who s/he lives with, where s/he goes to school, what s/he likes to do in his/her spare time, etc.

Activities which could help in this:
Photos of family and friends, drawings, discussion about the local area
Five 'things' about me bubbles

2. Participation/Advocacy/Representation

Start to unpick the concepts of advocacy, participation and representation - what do these mean to children/young people/what are their experiences of them?

Activities which could help in this:
Vignettes of informal situations (for example a birthday celebration), more formal situation (for example, going to the doctors, a discussion about bullying at school) as well as Children's Hearings scenarios. These will be recorded for interviewer and CYP to listen to together.

3. Experiences of Children's Hearings/advocacy support

Ask the child/young person to talk through his/her Hearing(s)

- Preparation
- The Hearing
- Implementation of the Hearing decision

(Keep the stages of before, during and after as a context throughout the interview)


Did they see the papers for the hearing? Were they sent their own copy? What did they think about this?

Who was at the hearing? Was there any problem with this - for example, conflicting loyalties with people being present, people being absent?

The young person's ability to participate and to make their views known in the Hearing, for example was the child/young person asked for their views?

How did they feel about being asked/not being asked? Did they feel able to say what they wanted? Was there anything about the hearing that prevented them from doing this?

What advocacy arrangements were provided? How well did these work?

Were there any other inhibitors to participation e.g. level of formality, language used, lack of communication with the child/young person, questions being directed towards adults, misinterpretation of what children/young people say by adults/Panel members?

Are there other measures that may have enabled participation?

For example, papers being sent, measures taken to ensure the physical environment is conducive, information that is sent out prior to the hearing being accessible, possibility of expressing their views in writing beforehand.

What doesn't help/what has hindered participation?

The young person's ideas on how advocacy/participation could be improved. Probes around excluding relevant persons, the ability to bring a representative, safeguarders, legal representation, papers for children.

Activities which could help in this:
[World's worst Hearing]/ World's best Hearing
Hot Air Balloon

4. The role of different people in providing advocacy support/enabling participation - before/during/after Hearing

Who are the people in the child/young person's life?

For example, family, friends, youth workers, social workers, teachers, legal representatives, safeguarders etc.

How does s/he know them?

What role does s/he play in supporting the child through the Hearings process?

What are some of the positive characteristics of people who have helped the child/young person to participate in Children's Hearings/other events in his/her life?

i.e. Start to unpick the people who are important, what their skills are, what methods they use, how relationships are established, how they are maintained , the importance of influence etc

So, for example, if a mum is viewed to be a good advocate, what is it about that person that could be transferable/'systemised' for other/all children/young people.

Activities which could help in this:
Mind map

5. Advocacy, participation and the outcomes for young people

What were the outcomes of the Hearing?

How does the child/young person view his/her participation in the Hearing (before, during and after)?

What impact does the child/young person feel his/her participation had on the outcomes of his/her Hearing?

Did the child/young person feel that their views were taken into account by the Panel in reaching its decision?

Did the child/young person feel they - and their views - were respected?

Were there any tensions/dissonance between the outcomes and what the child/young person expressed/wanted to express/felt they had expressed?

If there were, what was the child/young person's understanding of this/experience of how this was dealt with - what helped/didn't help in this situation?

What was the role of any advocacy support received in this?

Activities which could help in this:
Emotion cards

6. How can advocacy be best provided/what are the important features/how can it be improved?

What is it that is important about advocacy support

- in Hearings?
- may be useful to also explore other situations the child/young person has experienced, particularly if he/she finds it difficult to draw on his/her experience of Hearings

Activities which could help in this:
Prioritising different aspects of advocacy/The 'ideal' advocate

7. Other issues

Any other issues the child/young person wants to raise? Check they're happy with how the interview has gone/with what they've said. Want to add or clarify anything?

Finishing up

- Thank the young person for taking part
- Remind them the interview is confidential
- Check whether they still wish to stick with the adult/professional previously nominated/Why did they choose this person?
- Ask them to pick a pseudonym
- Ask them if they have any questions
- Thank you voucher

Outline how they can keep in touch with the outcomes of the research/how we will keep in touch with them. Provide them with contact names/numbers.


1. Vignettes

Scenarios could be used to outline 'typical' Hearings and as a basis to discuss with the child/young person their views on this, what is good about it, not so good, how it compares with their experiences. Could also use vignettes of other situations to explore what has enabled/hindered participation for the young person.

2. Worlds worst Hearing/World's best Hearing

Ask the child/young person to describe the world's worst Hearing. Compare this with the world's best Hearing. This could be done using cards. The child/young person could be asked to select cards/add others that are important and to then prioritise them. This could be done as a diamond ranking exercise, on a continuum of 1 to 10, or in order of most important to least or less important

3. The hot air balloon

Could use the diagram of the hot air balloon and relate it to a Children's Hearing.

Who needs to be on board?

What needs to be in place for the young person to take part?

What might blow the Hearing off course?

What prevents you from taking part?

4. People mind map

Identify key people in the child/young person's life and use a mind map to extend this to others. Then look at the characteristics of these people, whether they encourage/discourage the young person's participation in Hearings/other situations.

5. Emotion cards

These cards with different faces/words could be used to focus in on how the child/young person has felt about their Hearing(s) and why.

6. Prioritising different aspects of advocacy

Using cards ask the young person to prioritise different aspects of advocacy. The child/young person could be asked to select cards/add others that are important and to then prioritise them. This could be done as a diamond ranking exercise, on a continuum of 1 to 10, or in order of most important to least or less important.

Examples of statements:

- Someone who listens to me
- Someone who explains things well
- Someone who is separate from other people at the Hearing
- Someone who is there just for me
- Someone who keeps what I say private
- Someone to help me find the right words
- Someone to speak for me
- Someone who helps me to speak but who doesn't speak for me

7. The 'ideal' advocate

Ask the child/young person to draw a person and identify the characteristics/actions which are important to help participation in a Children's Hearing. This could also be done using the cards as described above.

Advocacy Support for Children and Young People in the Children's Hearings System

Research Interview Schedule: Adult/Professionals

Introduction to the research

  • Explain background and purpose of research, including how the information will be used, and issues around anonymity.
  • Highlight that the researcher has already spoken to the young person.
  • Explain that the young person was asked to identify a key adult for the researchers to speak to. Send consent form from the young person for this to the adult professional. (If the young person can't/doesn't want to identify a person an alternative has been agreed that we can interview a key adult/professional within the local authority area where the young person lives.) Explain that the aim of this interview is to explore the advocacy support provided for the young person.
  • Highlight that information shared by the young person will not be shared in this interview (although the interviewee will be welcome to keep up to date with the research outcomes).
  • Ask if okay to speak/organise a time to speak for 20 or so minutes.


Explore the advocacy support in place for the young person (or young people if the adult/ professional is not directly 'related' to the young person).

Ensure there is a clear understanding of how 'advocacy' is being defined within the research.

Discuss with the interviewee the periods of before the young person's hearing, during and after his/her hearing:

- Who was there
- What advocacy support was provided (and how does this compare to the support for other young people)
- Where was it provided
- When was it provided

How effective do you view the advocacy support to have been?

Were there any barriers to providing effective advocacy support? Or, factors that enabled the provision of effective advocacy support?

Were there any barriers to the young person participating effectively in his/her hearing (that the advocacy support couldn't/wouldn't have helped with)?

Do you think the young person's participation/voice was reflected in the outcomes of the hearing?

If yes, in what way?

If no, why not?

If there was dissonance between what the young person was 'saying' and the outcomes of the hearing how was this dealt with?

How do you feel the young person's experience will impact on his/her future participation?

Ideally, what advocacy support for children and young people in the Children's Hearing System would you like to see in place?

Are there any other issues you would like to raise?

Thank the interviewee for his/her time and highlight how s/he can find out about progress with the research. Send a summary once the research is completed.