On Tuesday 1st Feb Hannah from Barnado's Cymru came in for an hour to speak to the School Council and the School Ambassadors about something called the 'PARTICIPATION STANDARDS' for young people.
Hannah showed us a little flow diagram with some of the different people and parties between the government and the pupils at the end.
We all like Article 12 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child(UNCRC) which sets out the right of all children and young people 'to express an opinion and to have that opinion taken into account in any matter or procedure which affects them'. Some adults who make decisions do not listen to other adults and are even less inclined to ask the opinion of children or young people. But if they want to do the job properly they would not dream of not asking all parties involved for their ideas and thoughts.
At first this is just another big poster made by adults that young people will never read, but when you break it down it is all pretty straight forward. Hannah talk to us about the different topics and we had to decorate the sheets with the topics on [see right].
PARTICIPATION just means "take part" and we have been encouraging children to take part for some time. Before all schools had to have a School Council our School Watchused to regularly work with the police & community groups doing projects in the community as well as projects on anti bullying within the school. Green Gang and the interview clubs get pupils leading the way, this year they wrote the ECO-CODE and got the staff and governors to sign up to it, so they would support the work that Green Gang are doing on Fairtrade or cycling to school etc.
NO DISCRIMINATION this is pretty important in that the government and groups are not just going to choose who to consult or speak to. They will not just ask children from posh schools or just from deprived areas. They will try and get everyone involved.
GETTING SOMETHING OUT OF IT. They want to make sure that taking part is a positive experience, not so easy, its nice to get out of class to do things like this but not so nice if we miss part of our education. Where we live about 70% of adults do not even bother voting by post for Council and Assembly elections.
FEEDBACK again this reminds the school council that they are to do this too by updating their notice boards every week, and take the time to feedback to the class on what the School Council is doing. The weekly Newsletter is another good way to tell pupils & parents. But as we all know it's not so easy to get feedback from the government to pupils.
RESPECT again another really tricky one, it is about respecting everyone's opinion. We know that some people in our school are very confident speakers and some are quiet and shy, it does not mean that they do not have lots to say. The standards say that they will listen to your ideas, views and experiences.
Welsh Assembly Government set up a special group called the Participation Consortiumwho worked with some of our friends in the Participation Unit of the Save the Children Cymru to develop these National Standards of Participation. They were adopted by the Welsh Assembly Government in December 2006. In 2009 we were invited to take part in the launch of another initiative about using Children's Rights called 'LETS GET IT RIGHT' at the Senedd.
Of course Article 42 "States Parties undertake to make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike." The UK Government signed up to the UNCRC on 16th December 1991, but do you think after 20 years enough people know about the UNCRC? Tell the School Council or Ambassadors what they can do to get the message out.