2015 Review of Voice

Involving children and young people and hearing their voice is a well established part of how York works to deliver the best possible outcomes for families.

This is a summary of work over 2014/15 in relation to children and young people’s voice and involvement. The full report can be downloaded from the downloads section of this page on the right hand side. If you have other examples of work you would like to add to the review please get in touch.

Priorities for 2015/2016

There are lots of examples of excellent and developing work over 2014/15. The following have been identified as key priorities for 2015/16.

  • Voice at different tiers of need – There are groups of children and young people on the pyramid of need that do not have the same range of opportunities as others. Opportunities at the universal level and for looked after children are the most developed. Over 2015/2016, work should be undertaken to improve opportunities for children and young people with emerging difficulties, in need of early help, children in need and subject to child protection plans. In some cases, plans are already in place but attention should be given to ensuring this priority is addressed.
  • Voice in assessments – Work has been undertaken in some areas to improve documentation and processes so that the child’s voice is more present within assessments. However there is still much work to be done, in particular with early help assessments.
  • Pre-Verbal “voice” – The children and young people’s workforce needs to be equipped with greater skills for understanding children’s “voice” in pre-verbal children and young people.
  • Challenge and develop – All partners, in particular the City of York SafeguardingBoardandYorOK Board, must continue to challenge and develop their work in relation to children and young people’s voice. “The children’s safeguarding performance information framework published in January 2015 provides a helpful set of questions to support this challenge and development. In addition to the questions posed in this framework boards should also ask themselves:
    • How do we hear the voices of children and young people?
    • How do messages we hear shape our priorities?
    • How have we used these messages to make a difference?
    • How do we know children and young people feel safe?

What are Children and young people saying?

Helping all York children enjoy a happy family life

20.6% of primary school pupils reported they did not feel they had sufficient information about “family problems”
  • 82% of young offenders feel cared about by their family.
  • 86% say they have a secure and stable place to live
  • 20% said they see their family having fights or
  • 47% have lost someone special in their life.
  • Over half of young people in care didn’t know their social worker’s mobile phone number.
  • 71% of young people in care didn’t know who to contact if their social worker was on holiday
  • 88% of young people in care felt that their social worker acts on their wishes and feelings.

Feel Good Flags – Healthwatch ran a “Feel food flags” engagement asking what children and young people did to improve their well-being. Key things that make people feel good are...

Friends and family + Outdoor activities + Pets = Feeling good

Supporting children who need extra help at the earliest opportunity

51 requests in 2014/15 for advocacy from young people. Main reasons for requests:
- Challenging decisions
- Placement issues
- Contact issues
- Unhappiness with social workers
  • 4% of primary school pupils and 45.8% of secondary school pupils say they always or usually like school.
  • 5% of primary school pupils and 94.4% of secondary school pupils feel safe in school.
  • 8% of secondary school pupils feel safe on public transport.
  • “Weight, size and body” shape was in the top three current worries of year 10 pupils
  • 58% of primary school pupils and 35% of secondary school pupils report eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
8.4% of year 10 pupils said they have taken a picture or video of themselves naked.

Promoting good mental health

Mental health is a Youth Council campaign for 2014/15
  • More male pupils reported having no one to talk to about their worries than female pupils.
  • 98% of children in care said they could talk to someone about their “health” but this drops to 36% if it is described as a “personal problem”
  • 8% of primary school pupils reported feeling sad every day.
  • 21% of year 10 pupils said they would like more information about mental health.
  • 18% of young offenders list mental health when asked about their health worries.
  • Females school pupils reported being worried about more things that male pupils.

 Reaching further; linking to a strong economy

Work experience is a Youth Council campaign for 2014/15
  • 59% of young offenders said they got on with their teachers/tutors.
  • 91% of young offenders told us something that they are good at in school or work, such as maths, sport and ‘practical subjects’.
  • Key issues raised by care leavers:
  • Cost of living for those on Jobseekers Allowance, income support, an apprentice wage, low income or zero hour contract.
  • Care leavers have asked for the same free bus travel as given to looked after children
  • Care leavers have asked for relief from paying council tax.

Planning well in a changing world

Young people told the council what key environmental factors should be considered when thinking about how to deliver services.

  • Informal - An informal environment would put young people at ease.
  • Social media - More use of social media and websites to support high quality information, advice and guidance
  • Warm welcome - Security should be welcoming, not challenging. The building should be welcoming and clear about what to do.
  • Value - Young people place high value on good information, advice and guidance when making choices about their future.

Improving Opportunities – Some developments over 2014/15


Advocacy provision has been expanded to children and young people aged 5 and over who are:

  • In care
  • On a child protection plan
  • Taking part in Family Group Conferences
  • Making a complaint against the council.

SEND Reforms

“My Support Plans” and “Education, Health and Care Plans” will give a stronger voice to disabled children and young people. Children and young people have been key to the development of these new plans and have also played a key role in the development of the Local Offer.

Youth Offending Team and FutureGov

FutureGov have started work with the Youth Offending Team and young people to better understand the challenges facing young people. The project aims to find out how young people would like to communicate, what support they find helpful and the role technology might play.

York Youth Council

York Youth Council has undergone some changes as to how it operates. The agendas, minutes and invitations for partners are now coordinated by the young people themselves. This gives greater ownership of the youth council to young people.

2015 - Year of the Assessment

2015 is Year of the Assessment. Quality assurance of a range of early help assessments showed that voice needed to be more consistently present. A range of steps, such as a revised early help training offer, will address this need.

Stand Up for Us and Health and Well-being surveys

The “Stand Up, For Us” anti-bullying survey was extended to capture additional health and well-being information from thousands of children and young people.

The survey will be further developed before re-launching in 2016.

Young people supporting the recruitment process

Young people supporting the recruitment of staff has been improved by the development of a new toolkit. This brings new consistency and quality to existing practice.

The toolkit is part a growing set of resources to help practitioners hear the voice of children and young people.

Arts4Care and Music4Care

Two projects gave an insight into the lives of children in care. Arts4Care and Music4Care created a partnership between young people and artists. The projects created art, poetry, music and films about their experiences and gave a platform to have their voice heard.


The online consultation tool “Viewpoint” is now being used by for:

  • Young Offenders
  • Children in care
  • Children on child protection

This will improve young people’s engagement with their support and allow for data to be aggregated.

“You said, we did”

A detailed set of examples of children and young people shaping service design and delivery is given in the full “Review of Voice – 2015”. Below is a high level summary of some examples.

Young people said...


Looked after children said they often did not have their social worker’s contact details or know who to contact if their social worker isn’t available.

Contact cards have been produced so looked after children can quickly see the contact details of key workers.

SEND children and young people said they would like their own version of the “local offer” to help them understand what was available for them.

A young persons version of the local offer has been launched as it’s own section on the YorZone website.

In 2013 4.3% of young people said they were subjected to homophobic bullying.

Some schools have joined Stonewall’s programme and Sir Ian Mckellen visited York High School and Fulford School to talk to the students about being themselves and to stand up against prejudice. Homophobic bullying has reduced across the city to 2.4% (22 pupils) in 2014.

Looked after children said they didn’t feel that there is a big enough understanding of the roles of the virtual school / pupil premium / designated teacher.

A representative from the virtual school attended Show Me That I Matter to talk about this with young people. A new leaflet is being designed for looked after children based on this discussion.

Young people said they would like more information about Personal Education Plans and why they matter.

A leaflet on Personal Education Plans for young people has been produced and feedback has been gathered on it from Show Me That I Matter.

Young carers wanted to raise awareness of issues faced by young carers.

Young Carers Revolution secured funding and worked with Inspired Youth to develop the Tiny Treasures theatre production which toured primary schools in York and the North East. The aim of the play was to identify hidden young carers.

Looked after children said they wanted the council to be involved in Takeover Week in 2014.

A very successful Takeover Week was organised with 34 looked after children taking part in a range of opportunities. This work will build towards a longer term “buddying” scheme linking young people with professionals areas of work of interest to the young person.

The Children in Need service consulted with 24 children and young people to review the service.

Feedback from children and young people shaped the design of the Children in Need service. A child consultation group has also been introduced to inform future service development.

The “Consultation Group” for care leavers has been refreshed. The care leavers devised and evaluated a consultation for other care leavers.

As a result of feedback gathered by the “Consultation Group” and their survey a number of changes have been made:

Development of York Care Leavers Charter and of the Pathway Team Leaflet.

Creation of a Facebook page.

Arrangement of a number of social events.


Voice Review

Useful documents


Local Area Teams Information Service (formerly York FIS)

01904 554444