Talking Mats and Education


Consulting Children and Young People in Education

Involving children and young people in making the decisions that affect their lives, increases their motivation to succeed. Listening and responding to their views helps interventions to be more targeted and effective. The legislative and policy frameworks : “Getting it Right for Every Child” (GIRFEC) in Scotland and the SEND reforms in England require practitioners to create a plan focused on the outcomes the child or young person wants to achieve,and set out how services will work together to support these outcomes. Talking Mats is an excellent tool for consulting children and young people in education and is being used effectively in nursery, school and further education.
Talking Mats helps to consider the child or young person’s needs and risks, as well as the positive features in their lives. Strengths and well-being concerns can be considered together. The child or young person can reflect on what is important for them in their lives and what they would like to improve. This allows you to develop outcomes focusing on equipping them to achieve their goals.

How can Talking Mats help you?

  • Improve pupil participation
  • Inform individualised education plans and target setting.
  • Involve children and young people meaningfully in setting personal outcomes and in their education, health and social care plans
  • Comparing views either between teacher and young person or between students
  • Record views which can be compared over time
  • Investigate potentially sensitive or difficult issues
  • Preparing for and monitoring the impact of transitions

Talking Mats resources for Education Staff 

The Consulting Children and Young People Resource is designed to help education staff listen and respond to the views of children and young people, including those with communication difficulties. It provides a picture- based communication tool with attractive and engaging symbols that can be used for consulting children and young people from 3 to adulthood. It has been developed to correspond with 3 different education stages:

  • Early years
  • Primary
  • Secondary

All these resources are available as traditional mat-based Talking Mats Original packages or as Digital Talking Mats

To see examples of symbols from the Consulting Children and Young People Resource click here 

To read some stories of Talking Mats in action with children and young people  read these examples of relevant blogs :

  • Sophie Mitchell, speech and language therapist, describes how she uses the digital Talking Mats to help a young person with learning disability be involved in his education, health and care plan
  • A head teacher describes how using Talking Mats helped a child understand a key personal outcome
  • Read how Talking Mats was used with Daniel (a young man with Asperger’s syndrome ) so that staff could understand how the environment affected him

What our customers are saying…

“Talking Mats allow students a voice!  The Talking Mats system is a delight to use. Seeing students communicate their own thoughts is super! My College is interested in using it as part of the students’ review process. Plus it is really helpful to have the photo of the Talking mat as evidence in student’s folder.” College lecturer working with complex needs

“The children love doing their Talking Mats. They learn how to express a view and we show them that their view is important for example we listen and adapt the activities to suit their preferences. Talking Mats are part of the children’s plans. The parents love them too.”Dr Lynsey Burke,  Nursery teacher

“You don’t really think about stuff but then when you see it on your Mat you think about it and understand yourself a bit more – I realised my life is good. If my Mum told me that I would not really believe it but because I did it and thought about it, I believe it.”
Secondary School pupil using the Digital Talking Mat


Talking Mats is a powerful communication framework for helping staff working in education to support their pupils and students to organise their thoughts and express their views about particular issues.Our Talking Mats communication symbols allows for easy consultation of children and young people especially children with communication difficulties.   It provides a visual record of pupil or student involvement in planning, e.g., Individual Education Plans and Annual reviews. 
Education staff will get most benefit from the Talking Mats framework if they have attended a recognised Talking Mats training course.