Methods of participation
We have considered the values and skills needed to undertake participation work. We will now consider some of the methods that can be used to facilitate children’s participation. One typical example sometimes used in participation work is referred to as the Diamond Ranking activity. This activity works particularly well if you want to encourage cooperative working with groups of children and help them prioritise and reach a consensus view on an issue or plan.
Diamond Ranking was used by O'Kane (2000) to explore children’s views on the general topic of their participation and involvement in decision making. From her interviews with a group of 8–12 year olds O'Kane constructed a list of nine statements about taking part in decision making. These were then presented back to the children in a diamond formation. Children were asked to rank the statements from the most important to the least important. Any child in the group could move a statement higher or lower in the ranking as long as they could justify their decision. Only children moving statements were allowed to talk, enabling them to be listened to by the others. Over time the children debated and negotiated the order of statements that best represented the view of the whole group.
Drag and drop the statements below to rearrange them into the order that you think the group of children eventually chose. Once you have completed the task, click on ‘Show the children's choices’ to reveal the children’s ranking and compare it with your own.
Hopefully this has helped you think about how participatory activities can be used to encourage children to talk and share ideas with each other and with adults.
Listed below are some additional resources containing similar activities along with toolkits and practice guides packed with further ideas:
- Aspinwall, T. and Larkins, C. (2002) Breathing Fire Into Participation: The Funky Dragon Guide To Participation, Funky Dragon/Children and Young People’s Assembly For Wales. This guide can be downloaded from Funky Dragon. (Accessed 6 November 2008)
- Blake, S. and Frances, G. (2004) Promoting Children and Young People's Participation through the National Healthy School Standard, London, DoH. (Accessed 6 November 2008)
- Fajerman, L. and Treseder, P. (2004) Empowering Children and Young People Training Manual: Promoting Involvement in Decision-making, London, Save the Children.
- Johnson, K. (2004) Children's Voices: Pupil Leadership in Primary Schools, National College for School Leadership.
- Kirby, P., Lanyon, C., Cronin, K. and Sinclair, S. (2003) Building a Culture of Participation: Involving Children and Young People in Policy, Service Planning, Delivery and Evaluation, London, DfES.
- Ready, Steady, Change, Children's Rights Alliance.
- Shephard, C. and Treseder, P. (2002) Participation Spice it Up!: Practical Tools for Engaging Children and Young People in Consultation, Cardiff, Achub y Plant/Save The Children Fund.
Some sceptical people may think that providing children with the right to participate will lead to a situation where children will use it to simply get what they want. This activity demonstrates that children value being listened to way ahead of getting their own way. They also show that being provided with support in order to participate in decision making is important for many children.
The next activity considers some of the ways of supporting children.