Children and young people's participation: practice examples

Case studies of organisations who have engaged with children and young people.

#CabinetTakeover - annual Cabinet meeting with children and young people  

Organisations: Scottish Government/Scottish Youth Parliament/Children’s Parliament

The Scottish Government’s annual Cabinet meeting with children and young people demonstrates the commitment at the highest level of government to engage with children and young people on issues that matter most to them and to inform the government’s agenda over the coming year - with the aim of improving Scotland’s policies and laws. 

The Cabinet meeting with children and young people originally began in 2017. The meetings took place at Bute House, with the exception of the 2018 meeting, which was at St Andrew’s House.

At each meeting, children were represented by Members of the Children’s Parliament (MCPs), aged 8 to 14 years, and young people were represented by Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), aged 14 to 25 years. The organisations aimed to ensure that the MCPs and MSYPs were as representative as possible (e.g. care experienced, BME, LGBTI+, disabled etc.).

Before each meeting, MCPs and MSYPs gathered views of their peers from across Scotland, helping them to decide on the issues to be discussed with Cabinet.

MSYPs were supported by staff to select topics to raise from SYP policy which is based on wide consultation with young people across Scotland. Recommendations are shaped by their youth manifesto Lead the Way, which involves a mass consultation every five years. They are also shaped by constituents (on behalf of whom individual MSYPs propose policy to be debated and passed at our tri-annual national sittings), and our Conveners Group (a group of 10 elected young people who lead on policy). Conveners participating in the meeting then consult with their Committee members on these topics beforehand to help inform their speeches by lived experience.

The voices of more vulnerable groups of young people are included by ensuring that there is consultation with MSYPs representing voluntary organisations such as LGBT Youth Scotland, Carer's Trust and Haggeye (RNIB’s National Youth Forum). MSYPs are also encouraged during their Fundamentals training to consult as wide a range of young people as possible by adopting a variety of accessible methods, and ensuring that ‘seldom heard’ voices are amplified.

For the 2020 Cabinet meeting with children and young people, the MCPs attending the meeting will analyse work carried out by MCPs from across Scotland in the previous year, as part of both regional and national programmes. MCPs will work together to identify and prioritise the key messages that have been raised by children since the previous Cabinet meeting. The group of MCPs attending the Cabinet meeting will be representing these key messages of children from across Scotland and will ensure that the voices of marginalised children, including children with protected characteristics, care experienced children and children affected by multiple deprivation, are highlighted.

At the meetings, children and young people raised issues that were important to them. Issues have included relationships, bullying, equality, mosquito devices, poverty, transport,  incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law and Brexit, amongst others. Cabinet Ministers and children and young people then jointly considered and agreed actions for the year ahead in relation to children and young people, their rights and wellbeing, informed by their earlier discussions.  This was followed by an informal gathering over lunch of all meeting attendees along with relevant senior government officials, providing more opportunities for further discussion. 

We published the agreed actions that came out of each meeting. Scottish Government policy officials worked closely with the Scottish Youth Parliament and Children’s Parliament on progressing the actions.

Throughout the year progress updates on some of the actions were provided to key stakeholders - including a letter and blog from the Deputy First Minister and also more recently by social media.  In addition, a progress report on all the agreed actions, which was accessible to all (including children and young people), was published before the next year’s meeting. Progress reports from the 2017 and 2018 meetings, and a film from the 2019 meeting, are available online. In addition, the Deputy First Minister provided an update on progress on the last year’s agreed actions at the beginning of each annual meeting.

We carried out a full evaluation of every meeting – gathering views from Cabinet Members, children, young people, representatives from the Scottish Youth Parliament and Children’s Parliament and government officials. This helped to inform the next year’s meeting and any relevant changes were made, as required. 

Other national events have taken place giving children and young people the opportunity to engage with Scottish Government ministers and have their views heard on different issues - as well as to ask them direct questions.

First Minister's Question Time

First Minister’s Question Time - FMQT: Next Generation - offered children and young people (aged 8 to 18, or up to 26 for those with additional support needs) the opportunity to ask the First Minister questions. FMQT was funded by the Scottish Government and run by YouthLink Scotland and Children in Scotland. Two events took place in September 2018 and April 2019. It was initially launched as a YoYP fl agship event and each FMQT saw over 100 children and young people take part - representing a diverse range of backgrounds, including the seldom heard, BME children and young people, young carers, LGBT young people, those living in rural areas and areas of high deprivation as well as disabled or those with health conditions. FMQT: Next Generation was co-designed with 19 children and young people who formed a Design Team and were involved in decision-making at all stages of the project, from the choice of venue to decisions about project visuals and the questions put to the First Minister. Early evaluation of the FMQT: Next Generation events highlights the significant increase in engagement in the programme. Applications from 65 organisations were received to attend in April 2019 – an increase of 67% from the first event in September 2018. In addition, questions submitted increased from 24, rising to 32 local authority areas by the second event – illustrating its truly national reach.  

Young People's Rights Review

The Young People’s Rights Review was inspired by the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations. The aim of the event was to defend young people’s rights and enable young people to make their case to Scottish Government ministers on rights-based issues that they had consulted with constituents beforehand – ensuring that their voices were at the heart of the Scottish Government’s Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland Action Plan 2018-2021.  Other related engagement activities included two Ministerial Rights Road Trips on 4 to 5 December 2017 and the annual meeting of children and young people with the Scottish Cabinet on 6 March 2018.

The Rights Review was funded by the Scottish Government and run by the Scottish Youth Parliament. It was held at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh in April 2018 and was attended by Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) from across Scotland. The morning’s workshops were delivered by experts from leading rights-based organisations. In the afternoon, Scottish ministers and three cabinet secretaries, including the Minister for Children and Young People, as well as nearly 30 civil servants, had the opportunity to listen to and engage with young people on various topics including: mental health; LGBT+ discrimination; the poverty-related attainment gap; and the National Living Wage. The recommendations are published online with an easy read version.


We aim to review and update this information every year so that the examples are kept up-to-date.

If you have a practice example that you would like us to consider to include, please email the details to:

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