Thanks to all those who managed to participate in ‘Include Me’ Week in May and don’t worry if you didn’t get a chance as the sessions are still available to catch up on at your leisure.

The sessions were intended to provide opportunities for practitioners across all 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.

The week also saw 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’. Please have a read.

Inverness-based Bernadette Cairns, Principal Educational Psychologist for Highland Council who also leads the equalities agenda for colleagues across the Northern Alliance explained: “We know that there is some great work going on across the Northern Alliance, where schools, early learning and child care settings, community learning and development teams and others are engaging with children and young people in a way that puts them in the driving seat.

“These events were an opportunity for us to share some of that work and to start people thinking creatively about what more they might do to support the full participation of children and young people in creating and influencing the services that have a direct impact on their lives. The highlight for me was definitely the launch of the INCLUDE guidance. This is the Northern Alliance equality guidance for all schools and early learning and child care settings, created by our young people from Nairn Academy, with input from others across the Regional Improvement Collaborative. It is such a useful document to be used as a self-evaluative tool and to support greater levels of inclusion and acceptance of diversity across our 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.

Olwen Fraser, Northern Alliance workstream lead for leadership and coaching added: “If we want to lead change and improvement that will improve the life chances of our children and young people, we need to we need to truly listen to what matters to them. The Northern Alliance ‘Include Me’ week showcased a fantastic range of ways that the voice of young people is given a platform to be heard, as well as ways to ensure groups with barriers to engaging, such as language, are involved. I would absolutely encourage you to look at some of the recorded resources still available.”

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 said: “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. Not only did 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.”

Watch the session which launched our new INCLUDE Guidance:

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