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Young People: Public Participation

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on (a) the effectiveness of his Department’s arrangements for the engagement of young people in decision-making and (b) means to increase such engagement. (280747)

The Government are committed to listening to and reflecting the views of children and young people. We believe that children and young people should be given opportunities to express their opinion in matters that affect their lives.

For example, the Children and Youth Board (CYB) regularly helps shape the Department’s thinking and policy making. Most recently the CYB has helped shape the Children’s Plan, the Byron Review, and the Play Strategy.

Our White Paper published on 30 June, “Your Child, Your Schools, Our Future: building a 21st century schools system” sets out an entitlement that all pupils should have the opportunity to say what they think of their school and how it could be improved.

Aiming High, the Department’s 10 Year Youth Strategy, set out our commitment to engaging young people in decision making at a local level by empowering them to have greater influence over the services that are provided for young people in their area. Over one and a half million young people have benefited from initiatives such as Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Funds which require not only that funding applications are made by young people, but that young people are part of the panel that decides which applications are successful. An independent evaluation carried out last year showed that the empowerment of young people through these funds is not only leading to increased participation in higher quality things to do and places to go, but challenging stereotypes and perceptions of young people in our communities.

We have also issued “Working Together: Listening to the voices of children and young people” which promotes the participation of children and young people in decision-making in school, local authority and related settings. 99 per cent. of schools have pupil voice activity and 95 per cent. have a student council, (Institute of Education, September 2007).