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

Findings from a survey of secondary school pupils on perception of their ability to influence decisions that affect them.

1. Introduction

This report presents findings from a survey of secondary school pupils in Scotland on perceptions of their ability to influence decisions that affect their lives. The aim of the research was to better understand the extent to which young people feel they can make their views heard and that those views are acted on by adults in general, in out of school activities and at school.


The Year of Young People ( YOYP) 2018 aims to inspire Scotland through its young people, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contribution to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally.

Its objectives are to:

  • Provide a platform for young people to have their views heard and acted upon
  • Showcase the amazing talents of young people through events and media
  • Develop better understanding, co-operation and respect between generations
  • Recognise the impact of teachers, youth workers and other supporting adults on young people's lives
  • Provide opportunities for young people to express themselves through culture, sport and other activities

This research informs the participation theme of YOYP that focuses on enabling young people to significantly influence public services and decisions which affect their lives, and to increase opportunities for young people to take part in positive activities and experiences.

The survey findings provide a baseline for the position prior to the Year of Young People, and provide an understanding of different aspects of young people's involvement in decision making, as well as any variation between different socio-demographic groups within the population of young people.


The Young People in Scotland Survey is an online omnibus survey run by Ipsos MORI Scotland, which surveys a representative sample of pupils in Scotland aged 11 to 19 in 50 state secondary schools in Scotland. Fieldwork was carried out between 4 September and 17 November 2017 and 1781 interviews were completed. The data was weighted by gender, year group, urban-rural classification, and SIMD classification. [1]

The analysis and reporting was undertaken by the Scottish Government, Children and Families Analytical Services.


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