Children and Young People’s Participation in Scotland: Frameworks, Standards and Principles for Practice

This research report documents an inquiry into the viability of the construction of a set of a national quality standards and a framework for children and young people‟s participation (hereafter we use the term „framework‟) in Scotland.

At the time of writing this research there was no nationally agreed framework for children and young people‟s participation in Scotland or any widely agreed model for the monitoring and evaluation of this work. The development of a form of national framework in Scotland was seen by Scotland‟s Commissioner for Children and Young People as a possible way of providing the opportunity for improved agreement on standards, goals and processes, and participation indicators for monitoring and evaluation. A national framework was also seen as potentially providing a platform for organisations to better understand the process of involving children and young people in a participatory way and assist them in evaluating the outcomes and effectiveness of their work in this area. Therefore, this research sought to inform Scotland‟s Commissioner for Children and Young People‟s work. The development of some form of national participation framework in principle offered the hope for it to be a guide for better practice, a way of generating baseline information for the evaluation of children and young people‟s participation over time, and as a way of realising children‟s rights in practice as part of the unfolding of a more democratic society.

The research is based on the presumption that a national framework would need to be informed by existing theories (for example, Hart, 1992; Treseder, 1997; Shier, 2001; Mannion, 2007), by empirical research on existing practices in organisations from home and abroad (for example, Mannion, 2003; Johnson, 2011), and, by a fresh consideration of existing frameworks (after Cutler, 2003; Welsh Assembly, 2007; Badham and Wade, 2008; Lansdown, 2005, 2011; O‟Kane, 2011) and their current uses. This report does not set out to provide a comprehensive literature review or theoretical overview of the debates in this area (though clearly is informed
by these). Instead, the report‟s contribution is based on an empirical study and comparison of ten current frameworks of participation and interviews with ten key stakeholders. The design of the study is such that practice in local Scottish, regional UK, and international contexts is reviewed and may, therefore, have wider relevance for readers internationally.