29 April 2021

'Include Me' Week to push practitioners on involving young people in decision-making

The Northern Alliance regional improvement collaborative is preparing for an ‘Include Me Week’ in May, providing opportunities for teachers and practitioners across its eight local authorities to take part in 30-minute ‘bitesize’ sessions on how best to engage children and young people in the planning and decisions that directly affect them.

Recognising National Children’s Day on May 16, events centring around the theme of ‘Include Me: Promoting the Participation of Children and Young People’ will take place over three days from Monday 17 to Wednesday 19 May.

The week will also see the launch of new ‘INCLUDE’ guidance co-produced by Northern Alliance practitioners in partnership with young people from Nairn Academy, providing ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Guidance and Self-Evaluation for Educational Settings’.

Inverness-based Bernadette Cairns, Principal Educational Psychologist for Highland Council who also leads the equalities agenda for colleagues across the Northern Alliance explains: “Across the Northern Alliance we have a commitment to listening to the voices of our children and young people and promoting equalities and inclusive practice. Some practitioners and leaders have good processes in place already to engage with their pupils while others are less confident. We hope the short, accessible sessions will provide some examples of best practice others may with to find out more about or try out in their own settings.”

Recognising the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ensuring children and young people’s voices are heard and that they have an opportunity to actively participate in decisions that affect them is more important than ever. Northern Alliance Community Learning and Development (CLD) lead Sue Briggs who is based in Aberdeenshire has led a number of activities showcasing the importance of youth voice. Last year’s Changing Tides and Making Waves conference in partnership with the North Sea Commission was a particular highlight.

Sue says: “A number of the young people we’ve engaged with in the past asked to continue to be involved and to support our work within the Northern Alliance. We’re hoping that input from young people will be an important aspect of the sessions we’re running in May. Not only will the week provide a platform for schools and other settings to share their practice but to enable children and young people to share their experiences directly. There’s a lot of fantastic work going on and that will be celebrated and explained.”

In addition to representatives from Argyll and Bute’s CLD team who will be delivering an input on the role of children and young people in service planning, allied health professionals from Highland will be offering their insights into gathering the views of children, with many other keynote speakers to be announced. A full programme including links to register for sessions will be shared with all schools across the Northern Alliance in the coming weeks. For now, the message to teachers and practitioners is to save the date.

For more information about the work of the Northern Alliance, including a raft of new professional learning opportunities, visit: https://northernalliance.scot/