Young Inspectors are children and young people who have been trained and are supported to ‘inspect’ services which children and young people use, and to then give feedback to service providers on their views, ideas and recommendations on how the service/s could be changed or improved.
Young Inspectors are skilled in advising services and organisations about how they can make their service more accessible for young people, and ensure the service/organisation is effective at meeting the needs of local young people.
The Young Inspectors are involved in planning, delivering and evaluating any inspection, and this encourages a ‘youth-led’ approach. With supporting adults, the inspectors will discuss and decide which inspections are their priorities and the inspection methods to use. For example, making observations, speaking to and interviewing staff and service users, taking photographs, conducting short surveys with children and young people, and even ‘experiencing’ the service as a customer, e.g. using a leisure centre facilities, which all help to inform their feedback and recommendations to the service provider.
Methodologies are used which are age and ability focused and appropriate for the service being inspected. A successful inspection process is one which is interesting, engaging and rewarding to the inspectors, and for service providers to be in agreement and in support of the inspection, and want to genuinely listen and take on board the young people’s perspectives and recommendations.
The reason why Young Inspectors are so valuable to the service providers is that they really find the perspectives and insights of the children and young people key to their service reviews and improvements. Questions can be asked e.g. how child friendly, welcoming and accessible is their service? What are the barriers that could be preventing children and young people and families from using their service? What are the ideas and solutions? An inspection process may even help increase ‘take up’ of their service, help with promotion of their service in the community, help build more awareness and a better reputation.
Young Inspectors will learn important skills during all stages of their involvement, from understanding more about local services and how and why they are provided to communities, to developing their communication, negotiation, listening, interviewing and team work skills. The knowledge and skills gained will be an asset to them as they go forward in their education and in their future career choices.