Thanks to Karen Wilson, a specialist teacher and one of our accredited trainers, who describes how Talking Mats can help in supporting Looked After Children in having their say.
‘I work as Principal Teacher for children with additional support needs in a mainstream secondary school. In supporting a wide range of children and young people, I am frequently involved in Looked After Children reviews. These reviews can be quite daunting for an adult, as all agencies involved with the young person are represented, along with their carers and their support agencies. I can’t imagine what it must feel like as the child.
Many of these young people find it difficult to express their views, partly because of the circumstances they find themselves in and partly because many of them have communication difficulties linked to their early experiences. I have been struck by how little information is often contained in their Having Your Say form. This should be one of the key ways for young people to express their views and is completed in advance of the review.
I recently used a Talking Mat to help a young person complete her ‘Having Your Say’ form. The young person reported that it was much easier to engage in the process and told me that she had enjoyed doing it. She normally does not like filling in the form. All of those involved in the review expressed surprise and delight at how much more information it was possible to get using a Talking Mat.
I am now working with Talking Mats to explore how this idea can be developed to give more of our Looked After young people a stronger voice in decisions which directly affect them.’