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Sandboxes, stickers and superheroes: Employing creative techniques to explore the aspirations and experiences of children and young people who are looked after

Mannay, Dawn ORCID: and Staples, Eleanor 2019. Sandboxes, stickers and superheroes: Employing creative techniques to explore the aspirations and experiences of children and young people who are looked after. Mannay, D, Rees, A and Roberts, L, eds. Children and young people 'looked after'? Education, intervention and the everyday culture of care in Wales, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, pp. 169-182.

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As a commitment to children’s and young people’s participation in research about them has become steadily more mainstream, there has been a simultaneous increase in the variety of methods used to attempt to promote that participation, particularly with groups whose perspectives have traditionally been marginalised in policy and research(Abrahams and Ingram, 2013; Lomax et al., 2011; Mannay, 2016). In these studies, the basis of participants’ involvement in research has shifted from something that is done to them to one in which they have ‘designed, enacted and interpreted inquiries and been honoured as an authentic critical voice’ (Groundwater-Smith et al., 2015, p. 2). Consequently, within social and policy research, creative methods are often positioned as facilitating participatory relationships, whilst also being seen as ‘effective ways to address increasingly complex questions in social science’ (Kara, 2015, p. 3). This chapter draws on a study that explored the educational experiences and aspirations of children and young people in public care in Wales. Children and young people who are ‘looked after’ are often subject to formal social care and legal processes that involve some form of social work encounter in which their accounts inform decisions aboutchildren and young people who wanted to be involved in the research pegged a piece of card with their name on to a string. These participants (n = 39) were given a choice about whether to create a sand-scene, which some undertook (n = 19). Others selected a traditional interview (n = 14) or the option to take part in an emotion sticker activity followed by an interview (n = 6). We offered a range of activities, in the recognition that some approaches are not necessarily appropriate to use with some participants or may not suit their individual preferences (see Johnson et al., 2012; Smith, 2019 [Chapter 14 of this volume]). Ethical approval for the study was provided by Cardiff University and all participants and their carers were provided with information about the study and completed age-appropriate informed consent sheets. While researchers make efforts to gain active consent from older children and young people (Shaw and Holland, 2014), with younger children ‘assent’ is often sought (Cocks, 2006). However, in this research, younger children were also asked to sign or mark a consent form. While no arguments are made about the validity of this as an exercise in gaining active consent, the children appeared to enjoy being asked to sign their name and to be given the opportunity to display their ‘signature’ on a document.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: In Press
Schools: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
L Education > L Education (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Care, Children, Looked after, Young People, Sandboxing, Visual Methods
Publisher: University of Wales Press
ISBN: 9781786833556
Funders: Welsh Government
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 07:13

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