Progress on Agreed Actions: Listening to Children and Young People’s Voices
1. We will listen to children and young people’s views and take account of their views in our work as Scottish Ministers.
2. We will encourage Scottish Government officials to listen to children and young people and take account of their views as early as possible during the policy making process.
We want it to become normal for children and young people to be involved in making decisions on issues that affect them across Scotland and where they stay. That’s why we’ve included participation of children and young people as one of the four actions in our Action Plan. This is supported by Commitment two – on participation – in our recently published Open Government in Scotland Action Plan 2018-2020.
This year we held a number of events where we engaged and listened to children and young people’s voices on different issues. One example is the first ever First Minister’s Question Time for young people in September 2018 – FMQT: Next Generation, run by YouthLink Scotland and Children in Scotland. Over 100 children and young people attended and they discussed different topics with the First Minister, including education, mental health, housing and equalities.
Another event was the Young People’s Rights Review, organised by the Scottish Youth Parliament in April 2018, which was attended by Ministers and government officials. MSYPs gathered views from young people across Scotland on issues that affect their rights – including islamophobia, disability, mental health, period poverty, bullying and mosquito devices. MSYPs gave short presentations on these issues and their views helped to inform our Action Plan.
In the autumn, the Children’s Parliament organised workshops in five schools across Scotland for children (aged 6 to 12). They looked at children’s awareness, understanding and experience of children’s rights in Scotland. The children’s views also helped to inform our Action Plan.
The Children’s Parliament, Scottish Youth Parliament, Young Scot and Children in Scotland have worked with different teams in the Scottish Government over the past year to ensure that children and young people’s voices are heard as policies and laws are developed on different topics. The table in Annex A (page 22) gives an idea of some of the areas that they have been involved in. They have also worked together for us on the Scottish Learner Panel – a panel of about 30 young people (aged 3 to 18) who give us their views on education policy. Children and young people from other organisations like Who Cares? Scotland have also helped us develop policies.
We have worked with vulnerable groups of children and young people during 2018. For example, we have supported the new Young Gypsy/Traveller Assembly by providing practical help and some funding to the organisation Article 12. We worked with COSLA and Article 12 to arrange a two day residential training event in Edinburgh for the Young Gypsy/Traveller Assembly. This involved meetings with Ministers, COSLA and staff in the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament.
We carried out a consultation and engagement tour on the content of the website supporting disabled children, young people and their families, which we expect to launch in spring 2019.
This year our Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning 2018 included for the first time a children and young people’s category. The Children’s Parliament, Buckie High School and the organisations Article 12/PAS were given awards for their outstanding engagement with children and young people through the planning process.
The Year of Young People has been a unique opportunity to show the world how valued and proud Scotland is of all that our young people do – and all they can achieve in the future.
This Themed Year was the first of its kind to adopt a co-design approach with young people. Young people have been involved in the co-design of the Year from the outset and have planned events, with over 2000 young people participating. Communic18 – a group of 34 young people – have made decisions about the Year and have supported almost 400 Ambassadors, whose role was to raise awareness of the YoYP in their local area.
The Participation theme connected all the six themes in the YoYP – making sure that children and young people were actively involved in the planning, running and legacy of the year.
Events have included Scotland’s first ever Youth Urban Games, ScotWord, part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, and Youth Beatz, Scotland’s largest youth music event.
Raising awareness in Scottish Government
We have supported others in the Scottish Government to consider children’s rights and wellbeing when they are developing new laws and policies – by carrying out a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA). This year a number of CRWIAs have been developed, including on Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Bill, Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill and Fuel Poverty Strategy, Best Start Grant and Access to free sanitary products for those at school, college or university.
However, we want to go even further, so we have included an action on the CRWIA process in our Action Plan. We will support Scottish Government colleagues and others on the CRWIA process, encourage more people to use it, and arrange for the process to be evaluated within the next three years.
We have continued to raise awareness of participation of children and young people in the Scottish Government. For example, we wrote an article on participation of children and young people for our website to publicise participation across the Scottish Government.
We also talked about participation of children and young people in policy and decision-making at our meeting of the Children and Young People Community of Interest in June 2018. This group aims to join up work on children and young people across government.
Scottish Government Directors (senior members of staff) met with the Children’s Parliament in September 2018. Members of the Children’s Parliament spoke about the ‘kind of Scotland’ they want to be part of, human rights defenders and ‘unfearties’.
Our Youth Takeover of the Scottish Government’s Executive Team took place in December 2018 (the Executive Team is made up of the Permanent Secretary and the Scottish Government’s Directors General, and is responsible for ensuring the Scottish Government achieves its goals). We worked with the Scottish Youth Parliament to co-produce the session on Adverse Childhood Experiences, which was led by young people.
We have appointed two young people to each of the Scottish Government Boards on People, Performance, Place and Economy for a year. Each young person will have a buddy and be mentored by a Director General to support them.
We have involved young people in some parts of public appointment rounds, including for the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Children’s Hearings Scotland. And a young person – who is a public appointee – spoke at our last Come on Board event in Dundee in September 2018.
Schools and learning
We have included pupil participation in Scotland’s National Improvement Framework and will also include participation in the new Empowering Schools guidance.
We fund the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion project, supported by Education Scotland and Enquire, which gives a group of young people with additional support needs an opportunity to give their views on how to ensure that all pupils are included and supported in Scotland.
Education Scotland has published a number of resources this year on the participation of children and young people in educational settings. This includes a resource on Learner Participation in Educational Settings 3-18, which provides guidance on how to ensure that children and young people are encouraged to actively participate in all areas of school life in a way that is inclusive, respectful and authentic.
They have also added new resources to the suite of How good is our school?4 self evaluation tools, including How Good is OUR School? This resource gives advice on how to involve children and young people in improving and evaluating schools and includes a framework to support children and young people to be involved in this process.
The professional learning resource Recognising and realising children’s rights has been updated and is currently being piloted with a range of practitioners. This helps schools and other community settings to fully embed a rights-based approach, based on the UNCRC.
Finally, a Young Inspectors Programme is being developed, which supports children and young people to take part in school improvement and self-evaluation activities.
As part of this, children and young people from P4-S6 take part in training activities and visit other schools as ‘Young Leaders of Learning’.
3. We will consider how young people’s views are heard on religious observance in schools.
We published revised guidance on religious observance in schools in March 2017. This guidance recommends that parents and children and young people are involved in decisions about the Religious Observance programme in schools.
We will continue to consider ways in which rights under the UNCRC can be progressed across individual policy areas, including in this particular area. If proposals for further changes are suggested, this will include discussion and consideration with young people.