Last Updated: Friday, December 09, 2022

Young children have powerful voices

What is this?

Young children have powerful voices and great things can happen when we listen - a celebration of creativity and design.

Who is this for?

​Early learning and childcare practitioners, teachers, head teachers, leaders and parents/carers.

This project developed after staff engagement in professional reading and discussion related to vision and values and their image of the child. Staff were focused on listening to children’s voices, supporting the child as a researcher and recognising each child as capable and full of potential.

Through listening to children’s voices and the messages they were giving through their play, staff saw opportunities to make children’s learning and achievements visible within nursery and in turn the wider community. Staff followed the children’s interests and suggestions and provided opportunities to develop creativity and design which was then displayed as a public gallery and celebrated by the whole community.

​How to use this exemplar

This approach is designed to encourage and challenge practitioners to consider the impact of listening to children’s voices from early stages in their learning and trust the outcomes. The inspirational film demonstrates how the entire community can become involved in celebrating children’s achievements.

Improvement questions

  • How well do we motivate and engage all children? How can this be consistent for children every day?
  • How well are we enabling children to become independent learners and develop the four capacities?
  • In what ways and to what extent do children make choices and decisions about their play and learning?
  • Do practitioners value the creative process including individuality, rather than a focus on the end product?
  • How well do we listen to and involve children in making decisions about their learning, their well-being, their future?

Explore the exemplar

What was done?

Through professional reading and dialogue, staff identified a greater need to listen carefully and respond to children’s voices and provide opportunities to take forward their role as researchers. Through this approach, staff identified a sustained interest in sea life and a long-term focus on creativity and design. Staff suggested a sea life visit to offer opportunities for research and the children told staff how they would raise money for this, by using their own skills in creativity and design. The children’s vision of selling their own work to parents and others within the community was considered and welcomed by staff. Longhaugh Nursery School staff have saw this as an opportunity to celebrate the confidence, capabilities, skills, knowledge and ambition of the children with the whole community and so the vision grew. Staff provided children with the tools, equipment, information and the support that they required to follow their interests and express their individuality and creativity.


Staff saw this as an opportunity to engage children through their own interests, and in turn provide rich learning opportunities and experiences across the curriculum for all. Through feedback from parents/carers and partners, staff identified a need to raise aspirations and ambition not only for the children, but for parents/carers and the wider community.

What was the impact?

This developed as a whole community approach to raising aspirations for children living in one of the most challenging areas of deprivation in Dundee. Children gained in confidence as their voices were heard throughout the responsive planning for their learning. Children realised their own potential and made links between their ideas, their voice and their ability to influence and have impact on others. This resulted in the whole community becoming involved in celebrating the children’s achievements.



Powerpoint presentation: Young children have powerful voices (2.7 MB)