Pathways to participation: Openings, opportunities and obligations

Year of production: 2006

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has raised the profile of children’s participation in the United Kingdom. Hart’s ‘ladder of participation’ has been the most influential model in this field.

This paper offers an alternative model, based on five levels of participation:

  1. Children are listened to.
  2. Children are supported in expressing their views.
  3. Children’s views are taken into account.
  4. Children are involved in decision‐making processes.
  5. Children share power and responsibility for decision‐making.

In addition, three stages of commitment are identified at each level: ‘openings’, ‘opportunities’ and ‘obligations’. The model thus provides a logical sequence of 15 questions as a tool for planning for participation.