Together with KIDS we have been commissioned to deliver a national participation programme with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Making Participation Work, funded by the Department for Education, focuses on five key elements to enable effective young people’s participation:
- Scoping work on children and young people’s participation to build a clear picture of the breadth and depth of local area engagement with children and young people. We are currently working on developing further methods for wider engagement, including digital participation.
- Raising awareness about young people’s participation.
- Further development and management of a national young people’s group, FLARE, with membership covering every region in England, so that children and young people’s experiences directly influence and inform the implementation of the SEND reforms
- To develop and deliver communications so professionals have access to good quality information and resources.
- Further develop and recruit for the regional young people’s engagement teams.
Throughout the programme, Making Participation Work has delivered quality outcomes for professionals and young people alike. These have included:
- Developing an audit tool to support local areas to assess the extent of their participation. This is included as a module within the existing LA audit tool.
- Providing expertise to practitioners through local and regional events to support deeper understanding of how participation is central to the implementation of the reforms and how local areas can develop participation practice
- Continuation of FLARE, the national advisory group to DfE and regional young people’s engagement groups.
- Young people's conferences, that have brought together children and young people from all over England, all with different experiences of participation.
While young people’s views have been a key influence within SEN and disability legislation and implementation, there is still work to be done at national and local levels to ensure that:
- Disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN understand the changes to the law and how it affects them
- Practitioners understand how to involve disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN in decisions about their support and care; and
- Disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN are able to influence national and local policy and practice development, and their voices are embedded within strategic participation locally.