Government policy recognises that colleges, schools and early years services should create a climate where seeking children’s and young people’s views and encouraging participation in decision making are part of everyday activities. Where children have additional support there is a requirement for them to be actively involved in planning and setting their individualised education targets.
Talking Mats is a communication framework that is widely used for this and staff find it easy to implement. It has been used with children and young people in nursery, school, college and university. As well as target setting Talking Mats has proved particularly useful as a transition planning and reflection tool for children and young people.
Talking Mats training allows staff to reflect on their own communication skills and consider how they will implement and use it within their particular setting . The current Talking Mats package - Talking Mats and Young people was developed by children who are looked after in a residential school. We have completed a consultancy with Scotland's colleges to support them to include and listen to the student's voice. Currently we are working with Edinburgh City Council developing a resource around Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) .
Margo Mackay has completed a research project, funded by NHS Forth Valley, which examined whether using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health - Children and Youth Version (ICF-CY) can be usefully combined with Talking Mats to provide a practical framework for decision making and target setting. The project found that Talking Mats, when combined with ICF-CY, is a powerful tool with the potential to greatly enhance the nature of partnerships between pupils, parents and professionals.