Anglia Ruskin fronts Hearing Children's Voices programme

Published: 16 June 2006 at 14:58

Anglia Ruskin University has staged an important event to mark the conclusion of a major participatory research project commissioned by Children’s Fund Essex, who provide preventive services for children aged 5 to 13 years.

This conference highlighted the importance of involving children and young people in the design and delivery of services. The keynote speaker was Professor Priscilla Alderson from the Institute of Education, London. Prof Alderson is a well known researcher and author of many books including Ethics, Social Research and Consulting with Children and Young People.

The research project was carried out by Niamh Kirwan and managed by Dr Tina Moules, who both work at the University’s Institute of Health and Social Care (IHSC). They were joined by a panel of children and young people – calling themselves the Research Team of Young People (R.TYP) - who took part in a number of data collection activities, including interviews in schools, the setting up of a website, focus groups and postal questionnaires. The main aim of the research was to find out why children, young people and their families don’t use the services on offer. The findings will help services to be more accessible and inclusive.

Three children who took part in the project as researchers were awarded the City and Guilds profile of achievement. Aged just 9 to 12 they are some of the youngest ever individuals to receive this.These children are pupils in two schools in Jaywick, namely Frobisher Primary and Nursery school and Bishop Park College. Both schools have supported the project throughout its 2 year programme.

Anglia Ruskin University’s Niamh Kirwan said:

“What we found was that children and young people much prefer to be consulted by their peers rather than adults. There is an underlying trust among children and young people which makes it easer for them to relax and talk together about the issues which are of concern to them.”

“During the research project the R.TYP members documented their activities by completing workbooks, which means we are able to award them City & Guilds profile of achievements for their work.”

“These awards will reinforce to the young researchers how much they have achieved in terms of their work, confidence and self-recognition.”

“We are very proud to have played such a key role in this research project.  It is just one example of the fact that everyone at the University strives for excellence in everything that they do.”

Commenting on his experience as a young researcher Robert Warwick (9) said:

“All the Decisions about our group were made by the group and this was really good because by working together we produced some really good work.”

Georgia Marson (11) added:

“We’ve learnt lots of new skills – not only about research but understanding that everybody can join in even if they have a disability.”

And fellow pupil Tilly Hough (12), liked the IT-based content of the research.

She said:

“I enjoyed doing the web based questionnaire because it meant we could get more opinions from children and young people all over Essex.”

The three children all live at Clacton-on-Sea.

As a result of this research, the Children’s Fund Essex has now employed a full-time Participation Development Officer who will work with the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnerships (CYPSP’s) and Children’s Fund Essex projects in developing ways of consulting with and ensuring the participation of children and young people in service delivery and design.