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OnderwijsUniversity of Groningen Summer SchoolsYouth Participation in Research, Policy and Practice

Lecturers & sessions

Kay Tisdall

Kay Tisdall is a professor of Childhood Policy and co-director of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh. Her research includes theorising children's participation, investigating school councils, early education and learning across European countries, and contested contact in situations of domestic abuse. Kay has a considerable interest in the links between policy, practice and academia. In several articles and book chapters, Kay identifies key aspects of youth participation in research, policy, and practice.

Keynote & Workshop: Making rights real? The challenges and opportunities of children and young people’s participation

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) galvanised attention to children and young people’s participation rights, with a proliferation of legislation, policy and activities across States Parties. The session will concentrate on children and young people’s influence on collective decision-making (e.g., decision-making in their communities, on services or on national policy-making), drawing on examples in the Global South and Global North. This session will explore successes and challenges since 1989 in recognising children and young people’s participation rights – and the most promising opportunities going forward.


Bruno Vanobbergen

In 2009, Bruno Vanobbergen was appointed as the Flemish Children's Rights Commissioner. The Flemish Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner detects (warning) signs from children, young people, their immediate environment and professionals. It mediates, investigates complaints and provides policy advice - with a view to compliance with and the application of children’s rights in Flanders. Bruno has a doctorate in pedagogy and is currently a guest professor at the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy of Ghent University.

Keynote: Right here, right now. Children’s rights in different contexts


Karen Laing

Karen is a Senior Research Associate and the Co-Director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University. Her work centres around conducting research that aims to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families. This includes specialising in how different professionals work together to deliver services and opportunities for children (particularly involving schools), the participation of young people in research, interventions and social justice. Karen works on developing new ways of using theory-based methodologies (theory of change) in project development and evaluation, and incorporating visual and participatory methods. She has a keen interest in co-creation, and of the processes involved in stimulating change from research.

Lecture: Making a difference through research: The methodological opportunities and challenges in participatory research with children and young people

This talk will use examples from research conducted by the presenter to illustrate key methodological considerations that arise from participatory research with children and young people. Karen will present her findings and discuss how they relate to such themes as social justice, authenticity and validity, and research ethics.

Workshop: Exploring participatory research with children and young people

Drawing more deeply on the issues raised during the morning’s session, the workshop will give participants an opportunity to explore their own questions about participatory research with children and young people. Karen will facilitate group discussion about topics of interest and enable participants to consider the issues raised in relation to their own research and find new ideas and solutions.


Tony Meehan

Tony Meehan recently retired as head of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in inner London, working with, and providing education and therapeutic support for young people who have been excluded from mainstream school. During his time at the PRU he has sought to gain a clear understanding of the reasons why young people are excluded from school and to develop approaches which will give them a greater chance of thriving in work and further education into adulthood. This has involved supporting them in developing a sense of self-efficacy and becoming less reliant on extrinsic types of motivation.

Tony is currently looking to continue this work with other organisations in London, such as the Prince’s Trust, whose aim is to support the young people in developing the skills and confidence necessary to thrive within the wider society. He is also extending his understanding and practice of Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) developed by Haim Omer to help address the issues young people face in today’s society.

Tony is doing a professional doctorate (DProf) at Middlesex University on the effects of exclusion from school, not just on the excluded pupil but on the parents and wider family.

Lecture : Youth participation in practice
This talk will explore what youth participation means in the lives of school pupils in England who have been excluded from mainstream school and referred to a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) to continue, and in many cases, finish their education.

As a former head of a PRU, Tony will present a personal perspective of the challenges these young people present and the work PRUs do to counteract these challenges. Many young people, particularly in inner cities, feel alienated from wider society and are instead drawn into the micro-society of the ‘gang', living in a confined space demarcated by the boundaries of the estates on which they live.

Workshop : Youth participation in practice
Using case studies the afternoon workshop will examine in more detail the lives of these young people. We will look at how we as teachers and support staff in PRUs have responded to these challenges, how we measure success and we will look also at designing effective interventions to meet the needs of these young people.


Eva de Leeuw, Nathalie Lecina and Ruben Engelkes: Studio Moio Leiden

Studio Moio offers youth opportunities to become involved and lead societal change. Using different methods of visualisation, Studio Moio aims to solve societal issues and organizes events for youth to implement change. Three youth from Studio Moio will present their experiences and talk about research on inequality in education.

Keynote and workshop: How youth participate in (educational) research, policies and practices creating social impact


Mijntje ten Brummelaar

Mijntje ten Brummelaar is a postdoctoral researcher in Developmental and Behavioural Disorders in Education and Care at the University of Groningen.

Rozemarijn van der Ploeg

Rozemarijn van der Ploeg is an assistant professor in Youth Participation at the University of Groningen. Her research focuses on bullying and victimization, peer relations, and cross-national research.

Mijntje Brummelaar and Dr. Rozemarijn van der Ploeg, in collaboration with Sanne Visser and Anne Steenbakkers (Tuesday afternoon)

Keynote and workshop: Creating meaningful participation in research practices: Where are we at?

Over the years, the participation of young people in research practices has received increased attention. The establishment of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989 has accelerated the recognition of young people as active agents throughout different stages of research. Now, nearly 30 years after the establishment of the CRC, we are challenging our audience to look at where we have come from and reflect on the current state of participation in research practices. In this workshop participants will be actively involved through different roundtable sessions, focusing on key issues with regard to participation in research. During these roundtable sessions PhD students and young researchers will talk about topics such as ethics, impact and dissemination, and critical research methods and discuss this with the audience.

Last modified:02 October 2018 1.07 p.m.