Barry Percy-Smith_Presentation to PRWE forum_201113


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  • Just to remind ourselves of the where Children’s Participation has come from
  • Powerful way of communicating realities
  • So what are the benefits yp get from participation? .... These are from evaluation of participation in two children’s trusts for NYA and CiCC evaluationThese are really important for yp. and reminds us that participation is not just about services and local governance but about yp’s active agency as architects of their own lives and as citizens in their communities.Also that participation is about a learning process as much as it is about outcomes.
  • One of the main stumbling blocks in young people’s participation contributing to change is not repeatedly getting the views of young people but focusing on what we do in response to young people’s views.Expressing a view is but one element in a participatory process. Need also to think about how young people can be involved alongside adults in reflecting on the implications of their voices in relation to current practice as well as involvement with adults in developing alternatives
  • At this point it is useful to make a distinction between Participation and Participatory practiceParticipation is a right for children, and an imperative across policy But it is how children participate that determines whether participation is meaningful and effective.Participatory practice refers to an ethic of democratic involvement in which children are able to influence each phase of the decision making cycle.Hence children may participate but they are often not involved in a participatory process.
  • Can understand this in terms of an action research cycle .... (Commissioning cycle, Kolb)For participation to be effective and meaningful in terms of impact on service decision making yp need to be involved in all the phasesEG Devon: yp involved in commissioning and delivering sexual health education
  • By social learning I mean ....
  • Key here is that participation and learning is not just the remit of participation workers or youth workers but needs to be part of a whole organisational culture
  • For organisations to develop cultures of participation they need to change some of the ways they work – eg: structures systems, staff need to have the right skills and knowledge etc.This model (NYA) based on the 7 s model of organisational standards. Provides a useful framework of standards against which to monitor organisational change Key to developing a culture of participation .. but key to all these standards is a culture of shared values about participation
  • By starting from young people’s lived experiences rather than the service agenda alternative priorities emerged in the form of stress and pressure rather the conventional service priorities for youthFielding: participation for the benefit of human flourishing rather than effective servicesNeed to redress the balance towards participation in projects yp have initiated rather than just being service focused.
  • In this example .... Young people were involved alongside adults in reflecting on findings from evaluation and making decisions about how to respond.
  • So to take stock here ... We can say that Participation is a variably understood concept ... About engagement and involvement (at one level) i.e. ParticipationBut also about power and influence in relation to others (working in a participatory way)
  • Barry Percy-Smith_Presentation to PRWE forum_201113

    1. 1. In search of meaningful (children’s) participation: Issues, challenges and possibilities Barry Percy-Smith Associate Professor of Childhood Youth and Participatory Practice University of the West of England, Bristol
    2. 2. Origins of children’s participation • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 12: The right to say “States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”
    3. 3. Other drivers: • Sociology of Childhood (James and Prout 1990) – children as competent social agents rather than ‘human becomings’ • Tradition of Participatory Practice (Eg. PRA/PAR) see work of Chambers, Cornwall, Johnson etc) • Children/environment studies in the 1970s/80s (Hart, Moore, Lynch, Opies) – all recognised and worked with children as active participants
    4. 4. Some issues and challenges Young people still have little influence on decision making With representative structures, only a few young people get to actively participate Does anything change (how do adults respond) Whose agenda? (Dominance of service agenda) Whose agenda?: ‘Having a say’ tends to happen when it suits organisations and services, rather than when young people need to communicate needs, issues, ideas and concerns. Problems translating policy / legislation into practice (EU) Understanding what participation means /lack of training (EU) (not just about children having a say) Cultural barriers (paternalism, view of childhood) (EU) Political will ... danger of tokenism /tick boxing Embedding participation/Developing a culture of participation in organisations (getting young people to do research for adults is not the answer!) Participation seems to be most effective when it is rooted in young people’s real life issues
    5. 5. Issues with children’s participation in research Whose agenda? What’s meaningful for cyp? - Getting young people to do research for us or - collaborating in a research process For what purpose are we involving cyp in research? - Providing a space for young people to articulate their own views and experiences can often be more powerful for informing service improvement. Research as collaborative action inquiry???
    6. 6. Appropriate methods: Using visuals to hear young people’s story
    7. 7. x2. Whose agenda – participation for what purpose? • Participation on adult/organisational terms for the purpose of public sector decision making ..... rather than on terms that matter for young people. • ‘having a say in matters that affect you’ means having a say when it suits organisations and services, rather than when young people need to communicate needs, issues, ideas and concerns. What constitutes meaningful participation for a young offender or a mental health service user? …. Effective services or their ability to engage with the world? • Fielding (2006): participation for human flourishing rather than participation for effective organisations and services • Need to rebalance participation agenda away from organisational agenda and think about participation in young people’s everyday lives
    8. 8. What does participation mean for young people? Young people place more value on the process of taking part and immediate personal benefits rather than just outcomes: - their own personal achievement, learning & development, - new experiences - making connections with people /social value - having responsibility / developing confidence and abilities - realization of their own abilities / having control over their lives /making informed choices - making things happen / making a difference - dialogue / mutual communication and understanding - feeling their contribution has been valued /being respected - just being involved /taking part / joining in - opportunities and time to do things / having fun How can we reconcile these with service agenda?
    9. 9. 3. Limited understanding of participation involves Limited ways participation seen as consultation and voice - collection of views - instrumental, functional view of Participation. But … the most pressing problems facing us cannot be solved by simply voicing what we already know. (Need reflection and inquiry) And what happens when different voices come together? Who decides on which voices prevail? Participation is also about: …. inquiry, reflection, dialogue, learning and action in response to voice Tradition of participatory research and development as a post positivist paradigm
    10. 10. Participation and Participatory practice PARTICIPATION: The act of being involved /making a contribution PARTICIPATORY PRACTICE: Concerns the way in which people are involved - An ethic defining the democratic way in which involvement might happen involving sharing of power at all stages of decision making.
    11. 11. Beyond voice: From ‘perspectives’ to ‘power’ in decision making For participation to be effective young people need to be involved and have influence at all stages of the decision making cycle: - planning, taking actions and evaluation as well as communicating issues
    12. 12. Fundamentals of participatory practice 1. Collaborative/relational – children and adults work together to identify, explore and respond to issues 2. Involves learning and reflection – challenging and changing assumptions of self and others (learning together) and systems. 3. Centrality of dialogue – considering different perspectives together 4. Children taking initiative in decision making and action (taking leadership roles) sometimes 5. Critical reflexivity – ability to change as a result of learning
    13. 13. Participation as social learning The learning through participatory systems such as groups, networks, organizations and communities, in conditions which are new, unexpected, uncertain, conflictual and hard to predict … when solutions have to be found for unforeseen contextual problems. … emphasis is on the optimal use of the problem-solving potential of which a group, institution or community disposes. Social learning is action- and experience-oriented, it is critically reflective, meaning that actors question the validity of particular opinions, judgments, strategies, actions, emotions, feelings, et c. It is cooperative and communicative, which means that the dialogue between actors is crucial, continually involved in implicit or explicit processes of negotiation (adapted from Wildemeersch et al. 1998).
    14. 14. 4. Embedding children’s participation • Problem of integrating children’s participation into organisations and services (hierarchical/non participatory) • Conflicts between ideals of participation and statutory responsibilities (eg as Corporate parents etc) • Lack of culture and practices in organisations (for reflexive learning) to respond to children’s views/involvement • Need to develop services/organisations capacity for systemic learning and critical reflexivity.
    15. 15. Becoming learning organisations “ To develop meaningful participatory practice, organizations have to establish the infrastructure that will promote and support new ways of working, this means becoming learning organizations that experiment and reflect on practice. Change needs to happen at staff levels, at senior levels and in policy” “The ‘true challenge’ of participation is in organizations ‘transforming themselves’. This includes ‘profound changes in an institution’s prevailing attitudes, behaviours, norms, skills and procedures’”. (Kirby et al., Building a Culture of Participation, 2003 p.7) How do we become learning organisations where all stakeholders can be routinely involved in ongoing reflection, learning and change?
    16. 16. ‘Hear by Right’ model – provides a useful framework for organisational participation standards ( Participation needs to involve everybody not just one advocate But .. is important to have Participation Champions: -In practice - in policy -See also Kitemark standards in Wales
    17. 17. Building in learning from practice Policy Young people’s reality Practice Practitioners are listening to young people but who listens to practitioners ?
    18. 18. Creating spaces for reflection, dialogue, inquiry, creativity • • • • Reflection on action Learning from practice /experience “How can we improve what we do?” ... Practitioners hold the intelligence in the system (clients needs and how system works) .. So workers are pivotal in change initiatives. Providing a space for practitioners to reflect on and make sense of their own practice experiences is: - key to improving services - important for professional learning. - beneficial for team building colleagues - informs systems change
    19. 19. Where can we build in opportunities for dialogue and learning with young people in our services and organisations? • What autonomy do practitioners have to listen and respond on an everyday basis to young people? • What spaces exist for teams to reflect on practice together • What systems exist for management to continually learn from practice with young people? • Where are the opportunities for practitioners and young people to engage in dialogue and learning with managers and service leads? • What are the implications for professional relationships with young people? • Practitioners need the opportunity to explore how participation relates to what they do so as to enmesh participation into service provision Need a network of structures and systems but also a culture and ethos of learning & reflection amongst staff and with young people
    20. 20. Examples of embedding participation: Mind the Gap!: Creating spaces for Policy learning • Exploring young people’s health needs • • • • • according to their own terms Youth peer research Day workshop (67 young people/ 34 adults ) Cross sector representation Started from young people’s experiences not policy Action inquiry approach Emphasis on dialogue (young people/adults) Challenged assumptions about young people’s health needs Used to inform future policy Identified alternative policy focus • • • • •
    21. 21. Evaluation: Case Study : The Youth Inspection Team ‘Check It Out’ (South Tyneside) Consists of 12 young people. Joint initiative with neighbouring authorities Inspections undertaken of youth service projects. Young people decide which inspections to carry out Projects given one weeks notice. Young people provide grading according to 5 levels of award Written report discussed with centre manager Manager has two weeks to respond. Return visit of inspection team 2 months later Strategic issues can be taken up further with City Departments
    22. 22. Children in Care Councils Evaluation: Participatory workshop with young people, practitioners, managers and councillors Reflection and inquiry in response to learning from evaluation to inform decisions about how to enhance effectiveness of participation
    23. 23. Young people as change agents through community based action research • Ambassadors of change • Young people delivering sexual health education • Community education: Research /campaigns to promote sustainable shopping • ‘Don’t judge me until you know me’ Campaign (Devon) • Young volunteers (Turkey) – action to improve neighbourhood • Community Research – GUIC & Child reporters of Orissa • Peer educators: Child-to-child; & Promotores (Nicaragua)
    24. 24. What are we learning about what Children’s Participation means? Accessing, taking part, engaging in activities/services/opportunities Consultation /expressing a view is just one element of a participatory process. Ultimately participation is about exercising power and influence over issues (that effect you but also of collective importance) Participation involves engaging in relation to the world around you – is therefore necessarily relational, involving shared processes ((inter)action, dialogue, learning, decision-making, etc) Young people engaged in actions/delivering services Participation can also involve autonomous action and self determination according to their own agenda (the world is not shaped just by professionals!)
    25. 25. Revised framework for assessing good practice in children’s participation • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Revised framework for assessing good practice in children’s participation Inclusive - All children have an opportunity to actively participate (i.e. not exclusive) Participation is informed and transparent Children’s contribution is valued, respected and taken seriously Children have the opportunity to influence the agenda and/or initiate the agenda Participation is voluntary Context and approaches are appropriate and child friendly according to the age and maturity of the child. Opportunities for learning (adult and children) are built into the participation process Active roles in all phases of decision making cycle, not just expressing a view - Inquiry and analysis (Exploring/researching issues and synthesising results) - Involves discussion and reflection - Developing / communicating proposals for action/change Monitoring and evaluation Is meaningful and relevant for participants (children fully aware of the context of their participation and have a common vision /sense of ownership and commitment) Children’s contributions are confidential and free from risk Increases awareness/builds social capital/empowers children Children get support, training and resources where needed Involves dialogue/collaboration with adults Outcomes/change happens - (Policy /practice impact; and / or Benefits for children/community) Possibility for children taking action/implementing solutions On-going /sustainable (beyond project), not a one off event. Children’s participation is linked to wider civic and/or organisational decision making Systems and culture of learning and change exist in response to children’s participation
    26. 26. • Children and young people’s participation learning network (to subscribe) For help with developing (children’s) participation in your research, service or organisation contact: