Publication - Research and analysis

Young people's participation in decision making: attitudes and perceptions

Published: 12 May 2020

Research on young people’s involvement in decision making in schools and out-of-school activities and groups through the Young People in Scotland survey.

29 page PDF

629.9 kB

29 page PDF

629.9 kB

Contents
Young people's participation in decision making: attitudes and perceptions
Key Findings

29 page PDF

629.9 kB

Key Findings

This report presents findings on children's perceptions of their involvement in decision making from the 2019 Young People in Scotland survey. The survey asked respondents a number of questions about their ability to make their views heard and acted on in decisions that affect their lives, focusing on adults in general, adults running out of school activities, and schools.

The Young People in Scotland Survey is an online omnibus survey of secondary school pupils across Scotland. The questions were previously included in the survey in 2017. Fieldwork was conducted by Ipsos MORI Scotland and analysis and reporting was conducted by the Scottish Government, Children and Families Analytical Unit.

Perceptions of adults listening and acting on views

  • Pupils were asked about the extent to which adults in general (such as family, teachers, youth workers etc.) were (1) good at listening to their views; and (2) good at taking their views into account when making decisions that affect them.
  • Around six in ten young people surveyed agreed that adults were good at listening to their views (57 per cent). This was similar to findings in 2017.
  • Around six in ten of young people surveyed (58 per cent) agreed that adults were good at taking their views into account when making decisions that affect them. This was an increase from 2017, when 53 per cent agreed.
  • Boys were more positive on both questions. Boys were more likely than girls to agree that adults were good at listening (59 per cent compared with 55 per cent) and that they were good at taking their views in account when making decisions (61 per cent compared with 55 per cent).
  • Older children were more negative. The percentage of pupils who agreed that adults are good at listening fell from 61 per cent in S1 to 51 per cent in S6, while the percentage agreeing that they were good at taking their views in account when making decisions fell from 63 per cent in S1 to 53 per cent in S6.
  • Respondents with a mental or physical health condition were less positive. Among those with a health condition, 54 per cent agreed that adults were good at listening to their views, compared with 61 per cent of those without a health condition. Similarly, 54 per cent of those with a health condition agreed that adults were good at taking their views into account compared to 62 per cent of those without a health condition.

Barriers to being listened to and having views heard

  • Young people were asked what they saw as the barriers to adults listening to them and taking their views into account.
  • The most commonly selected perceived reason for why adults do not listen to young people was 'it doesn't fit with what they want to hear' (26 per cent), followed by 'they don't like their views being challenged' (23 per cent). Around a quarter (23 per cent) selected 'nothing - they do listen' and a further 21 per cent said they didn't know.
  • The most commonly selected perceived reason for what stops adults from taking young people's views into account was 'they don't like their views being challenged' (20%). Three in ten selected 'don't know' and a quarter selected 'nothing - they do take my views into account'.
  • For both of these questions, pupils were more likely to say that there was no barrier as adults do listen to them compared with responses in 2017.
  • Girls were more likely than boys to select each of the barriers as a reason for why adults don't listen to young people. Those in later school years were more likely to select most of the barriers, and were also less likely to say that there were no barriers.

Perceptions of adults running out of school activities

  • Young people who took part in out of school groups or activities run by adults were asked about the extent to which (1) they felt able to let adults know their views on how the activities are run (2) those adults were good at listening to their views and (3) those adults were good at taking their views into account when making decisions that affect them.
  • Around two thirds of young people who took part in out of school groups or activities run by adults held positive views about these adults. Sixty seven per cent of respondents agreed that they felt able to let these adults know their views on how the activities were run; 65 per cent felt that the adults were good at listening to their views; and 64 per cent felt that these adults were good at taking their views into account when making decisions that affect them. This was similar to findings in 2017.
  • Those with a health conditions were more negative about adults running out of school activities on all three questions. Boys were more likely than girls to say they felt able to make their views known, and that those adults were good at listening to their views. Young people from the most deprived areas were least likely to feel that adults running out of school activities listen to their views or take their views into account, but there was not a consistent relationship over the five SIMD quintiles.

Perceptions of say in the running of schools

  • Respondents were also asked a series of questions about how much say they had relating to schools, in terms of what they learn, how they learn and decisions affecting the school as a whole.
  • Thirty four per cent of respondents felt that they had a lot or some say in what they learn while over half (51 per cent) felt that they had little or no say.
  • When asked about how much say they have in how they learn, 36 per cent felt that they had a lot or some say in and 45 per cent felt they had no or little say.
  • Twenty nine per cent felt that they had a lot or some say in decisions that affected the whole school while over half (51 per cent) felt that they had little or no say.
  • There was little variation from responses in 2017.

Contact

Email: socialresearch@gov.scot