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Voices into Action (VIA) Toolkit

A digital resource supporting learner and family participation in educational decision-making

The Voices into Action Framework for Meaningful Participation in Inclusive Education

The framework at a glance 

The Voices into Action (VIA) Framework can serve as a reflection tool for assessing the current state of learner and family participation at the school, regional or national level. It can be a starting point for planning learner and family participation programmes. The framework aims to benefit all stakeholders, including those in leadership positions and those who seek to share their own voices. 

This framework includes four key elements that operate in tandem: Space, Voice, Audience and Influence. These elements come from a model of child participation developed by Professor Laura Lundy of Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom (Northern Ireland). The VIA Framework applies Lundy’s model to education contexts and extends it to include families in addition to children and young people.

Graphic: top left portion of the VIA toolkit diagram, representing 'space'

Create safe and inclusive opportunities to form and express voices

  • Minimise selection bias by ensuring that marginalised groups are included

  • Make use of technology, intergenerational approaches and non-governmental organisations’ community work

  • Pay attention to concerns around accessibility, assent/consent, safety, right to express a view and right to information

Graphic: bottom right portion of the VIA toolkit diagram, representing 'audience'

Listen responsibly to the voices

  • Encourage and value the contributions of intergenerational and diverse perspectives

  • Access appropriate support and means to understand and interpret the views expressed

  • Pay attention to power imbalances and unconscious bias

Graphic: top right portion of the VIA toolkit diagram, representing 'voice'

Facilitate free expression of voices in the medium of choice

  • Discuss topics that are meaningful, relevant and beneficial to the individual/group

  • Provide accessible preparatory material and appropriate support to build capacity for participation

  • Pay attention to concerns around vulnerability, personal data and the right to guidance from adults



Graphic: bottom left portion of the VIA toolkit diagram, representing 'influence'

Act on the voices

  • Ensure clarity and transparency on how voices are acted upon and the expected impacts

  • Give appropriate feedback to all participants and involve them in the evaluation processes

  • Pay attention to possible misinterpretation of voices and unintended consequences

How the framework has been developed

In developing the VIA Framework, the Agency also reviewed other models and examples of participation, including: 

This toolkit adapts the VIA Framework into a practical checklist for stakeholders involved in participatory activities. Explore the checklists in the Space, Voice, Audience and Influence tabs in the menu above.