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Participation and co-production best practice

Delivering a participation session

Preparations and introduction

  • Be prepared and be ready in good time for attendees arriving in person or joining online
  • Check your back-up or contingency plans are ready to go if needed. Be open-minded and prepared to divert from your plan
  • Remind attendees of housekeeping plans for the session. For example, to make this session run well we are waving hands instead of clapping
  • Explain how participation can change things


  • Give yourself plenty of time. Try to stick to timings knowing some young people will expect you to
  • If anything looks like it is changing, let the attendees know 
  • Take your time and speak slowly. Pause regularly when speaking. Repeat things if needed to make sure children and young people (CYP) understand
  • Be patient and be aware that everyone works at their own pace. Allow CYP time to understand, think and to process responses to questions/instructions

Engaging with children and young people

  • Give clear instructions and adapt these as needed. Don't use jargon
  • Give choices when possible 
  • Ask CYP to explain things back to you after going over a new concept 
  • Break new information down into chunks, otherwise it can be too much
  • Consider having additional creative activities to give children and young people a break  
  • Always listen to the young person about what they want and need in terms of support
  • Be positive to build self-esteem
  • Respond to and praise appropriate behaviour
  • Ignore, as far as possible, attention-seeking behaviour 

Closing a session and feedback

  • Explain what will happen next and how attendees' feedback will be shared with others. Telling people what happens with their feedback is very important  
  • Ask attendees how they want to hear about what has happened because of their participation. Do they want an email, phone call, to meet in-person or online?
  • Circulate or send out an accessible evaluation form for participants to complete
  • Consider how future sessions could be improved and what worked well 

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