Can Scotland be Brave – Incorporating UNCRC Article 12 in practice

This project investigated how well practitioners, understood and implemented the full obligations of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (‘UNCRC’).


This pilot project looked at how well practitioners in different settings understood the full obligations of Article 12 of UNCRC, as measured by the Laura Lundy model of participation. Many of the issues which emerged were consistent across education, health and childcare services. Creating a safe space is not just about the physical environment but also about practitioners being proactive in creating the opportunities to listen to CYP. Being brave enough to really listen to what CYP might say means that practitioners in turn must be brave in allowing CYP views to have real influence. 

In Health, we reflected on how often our inquiry is directive and focussed, aimed at obtaining the information we need to make a diagnosis or plan an intervention. The challenge is to allow for more non-directive conversations which allow CYP to raise the issues relevant to them. 

In Education, teachers observed the changing dynamic in a relationship when using Talking Mats, a concrete, visual tool. Pupils opened up to them and shared new information and insight into their lived experience. They gave pupils the opportunity to come up with their own solutions and witnessed how motivating that can be.

In Childcare Services we saw the difference that long-term key relationships make to CYP in developing trust. Although practitioners often knew the children well, they felt significantly more empowered when using a Talking Mat because they could present physical evidence to outside agencies which truly reflected CYP views. 

In all three sites we saw how Talking Mats can help early intervention. If professionals can help CYP address some of the difficult issues in their lives before problems become entrenched and escalate then we will really start to see significant, positive change. 

It is every practitioner's responsibility to be proficient in obtaining the views of CYP. It is their responsibility to adapt their communication style to match the needs of each CYP.  In practice, the more opportunities for decision-making that CYP are given, the more they can develop the skills required. Going forward, we need leaders and management teams who will support their staff to develop practices that break out of their traditional moulds. 

Full incorporation of UNCRC into Scottish law and practice offers an exciting opportunity to bring about real cultural change within CYP services. Adults will be required by law to implement processes that listen to CYP views, act on them and report back on how those views have influenced decision making. It will strengthen the existing GIRFEC framework and encourage genuine child centred practice. 



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