The purpose of the event was to explore the idea of a Children's Parliament for London, based not on a place or single representative system but on a responsive platform that would meet children in their own spaces / on their own issues. Our main speaker was Colin Morrison of Scotland's Children's Parliament.

Three inspiring and very different presentations of good practice in children's participation shared a few common themes:

  • Shaping participation work around the child / young person or group of children / young people (not around an existing system, process or set of adult questions)
  • Involving children with direct experience of the issue (not only usual suspects / elected representatives)
  • Using creative activities to enable children to explore their priorities
  • Engagement in very tangible projects with visible outputs and clear influence from children and young people
  • The struggle to balance adult pressures and ways of working with the rights of children to participate as equals
  • It’s not just about Article 12 of the UNCRC (to be heard) but all children’s rights

How delegates felt about existing participation practices in London

  • It’s good in some of our own organisations but we know it’s not that good in the wider city
  • Compared to other places, London isn’t doing badly
  • There are pockets of really great practice
  • Even where children are involved, they’re involved in a system that isn’t particularly democratic – people of all ages in London need a more participative democracy
  • It’s difficult to know what others are doing around the city and beyond

Some initial conclusions

Participants’ contributions suggested that there is plenty of good practice in children’s participation (tending towards the older age groups) in London but what is needed is:

  • A network / platform to connect existing practice and practitioners
  • Amplification of children’s voices so that they reach each other and London-wide decision-makers

Children England will organise further events to involve children, charities and decision-makers in exploring how these channels could work. 

We would love to gather and share examples of good practice in children's participation! Contact us to let us know if you have work to share.