BLOG: “Involving children in consultation, planning and decision-making, is a must-do”
Hearing what residents think about Council-run services and the services they would like to see in the future is very important to us. And that includes listening to children and young people.
Here, Cabinet Member for Employment, Educational Attainment and Skills Cllr Lila Bennett explains why the Liverpool Schools’ Parliament is such an important forum for the city.
Any local authority that is serious about listening to its residents so it can provide the best services possible, cannot ignore the voices of children and young people. Just because they don’t have access to the ballot box should never mean that they have to wait until they are 18 to influence what happens in their city.
This is why the Liverpool Schools’ Parliament (LSP) is such a vital mechanism for us to involve youngsters in what happens in Liverpool – and for them to hold the Council to account. I’m thrilled that this year we are re-booting the LSP and today (Thursday 18 January) we have held two sessions at the Town Hall for primary schools, the LSP’s Lower House with children aged seven to 11, and secondary schools, the Upper House for young people aged 11-19.
There are many sound reasons for doing this but front and centre is Liverpool’s journey towards gaining Unicef Child Friendly City (CFC) status. Being able to say that Liverpool is truly child-friendly means that involving children in consultation, planning and decision-making, is a must-do and not a when-we-can-be bothered.
We are running four special events this year and they will be based on themes identified in the OxWell survey and through other engagement work by our CFC team, including priorities in education and mental health.
The continuing success of LSP is thanks to many people – the pupils and students who are their schools’ representatives, the teachers who support the young people and teams in the Council who treat the LSP as an integral part of our committee process.
As the LSP moves into another year, I must also pay tribute to Jeff Dunn who recently passed away.
The LSP was Jeff’s wonderful brainchild and reflected his commitment to making sure that young people’s voices are respected. He was the passionate director of the LSP until he retired in 2019.
The fact that LSP is poised to go from strength to strength in 2024 shows the enduring value of Jeff’s idea and provides a powerful legacy for this very special man.