In addition to seeking pupils views directly, e.g. by listening to them, you can also gather useful information by:
- Offering choices, or
- Observing behaviour.
Another useful way to understand a child with complex needs is to allow other people to speak for that child. Using proxy respondents (or advocacy) enables you to obtain qualitative information from someone close to the child, e.g. parents, teachers, classroom assistants or other close caregivers.
Listen to Emma's mother, Ruth, talking about what Emma likes.
Do you think that Ruth would make a good proxy respondent for Emma, were she to need one? Give reasons for your answer.
What are the dangers of relying on the views of others?
You may have felt that Ruth would make a good proxy respondent for Emma. As Emma's mum, Ruth knows Emma's likes and dislikes very well.
It is important that proxy respondents represent what they believe to be the views of the child, rather than putting forward their own views.
Think about the children in your class. Think of ways in which you could increase opportunities for them to make choices and express their preferences or views?
Talk to your colleagues and make a list of the different ways that pupils in your school are given a voice. This might range from pupils who make simple choices or indicate preferences through their behaviour, to pupils being represented on the school council. Are there areas where, you think, practice could be improved? What steps would you need to take to change practice in the areas you have identified?