VocalEyes is delighted that its platform will be embedded in all schools in Cardiff. The platform will allow every child to be involved in the journey to become a Child Friendly City (CfC). Here we lay out the core values that drive our work with Children and Young People (CYP) and the adults who work with them to make Cardiff a CfC.
The CfC initiative is grounded in a commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and to the goals of Sustainable Development. Led by UNICEF it arises out of the movement calling on schools to become Rights Respecting Schools.
The UNCRC’s 3Ps of Prevention, Protection and Participation are ways of thinking about how we engage with children and young people (CYP). For us participation is the key – hence the development of this participatory democracy platform.
The platform is designed to promote equality – to ensure all CYP have an equal chance to participate. It is designed to ensure respect for diversity of ideas and opinions and to value everyone.
When first engaging with the platform the CYP have the chance to tell each other what ideas they have for improving their school and their city. It therefore supports pupil voice in the school and extends to citizen voice. In this way it supports democratic participation both within and beyond the school. Every student in every school will have the chance to input their ideas, rate the ideas of others and prioritise ideas for action. Putting ideas into action ensures the platform is more than a talking shop and it is important to ensure that actions are informed by values.
CfC initiative is a values-driven initiative; this means CYP need opportunities to discuss their values and what values they think should underpin actions they recommend for their school and their city. To do this they need to learn how to exercise their moral imaginations.
This is important in the context of the Welsh Government commitment to the ‘Well-being and Future Generations Act’. At the heart of well-being is a commitment to sustainable futures. Sustainability is also a core value at VocalEyes which means promoting ecological literacy is close to our hearts. Alongside our core values of rights, equality and participation is a commitment to further supporting schools where sustainability goals are identified as priorities for action. We take seriously the injunction to ‘Act Locally, Think Globally’ and seek to develop children’s understanding of how local actions can be informed by global priorities.
Once CYP have prioritized their ideas for action they need opportunities to discuss them. The methodology we use to promote dialogue is COPE (the Community of Philosophical Enquiry). Derived from Philosophy for Children, it is a democratic process of enquiry that aims to build community and enable respectful dialogue to reach wise decisions.
In a COPE, participants raise fundamental questions of what it means to live a good life and to examine these questions together. The enquiry enables CYP and the adults who work with them to identify the relationship between the actions proposed and the values that underpin them.
All of these processes have to be underpinned by a commitment to listening. It is important for everyone to be open to the points of view of others, and develop the skills needed to weigh up the strengths of arguments and be open to changing their minds. COPE is a dialogic approach that builds the capacity for participants to challenge and disagree with each other to promote reflection. It means sharing power and building trust to create a safe space for dialogue to take place. It means considering different perspectives and connecting our values to our actions.
To sum up VocalEyes and its partner, Dialogue Exchange are committed to the following values: