Last Updated: Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Participatory Budgeting in educational establishments

What is this?

Guidance and support materials to help establishments, community learning and development (CLD) partners and Parent Councils to:

  • Develop an understanding of Participatory Budgeting (PB) and its potential application for learner and community participation.

  • Consider the opportunities to join up existing/draft council plans for mainstream PB with what education services may be offering or considering around family engagement, pupil participation, democracy and decision making.

Who is this for?

This information and related web links will be of benefit to all establishment Senior Leadership Teams, CLD Managers and Practitioners and Parent Councils.

Explore this resource

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic way for people to have a direct say on how public money is spent. There are a range of different models of PB in use across Scotland and around the world.

PB can be a powerful tool for schools to involve all parents and pupils in establishments improvement planning, including decisions on the use of Pupil Equity Funding. PB can play an important role in establishment approaches to equity, family engagement, learner participation and democratic education.

The Scottish Government and COSLA have made a commitment that at least 1% of local government budgets in Scotland will be subject to participatory budgeting by the end of 2021.

PB approaches in Scotland are often led by community learning and development (CLD) practitioners in both the public and voluntary sectors. Establishments should seek to collaborate with their CLD partners on PB – to draw on the experience and support available.

PB supports Article 12 of the UNCRC ‘children and young people have the human right to have opinions and for these opinions to matter’.

Paul Johnston, Director General Education, Communities and Justice at the Scottish Government said: ‘Participatory budgeting (PB) could be an innovative and effective mechanism to engage with parents and pupils, in particular those who face barriers to participation. PB directly involves people in participating in budgeting decisions that will have a direct impact on improving their lives and it can engage people who would not normally participate with traditional forms of communication.'

Improvement questions

  • To what extent do our establishment, our community learning and development (CLD) partners and our Parent Council have a shared understanding and shared approaches to family engagement and learner participation?

  • How well do we embed learner participation in each of the 4 arenas of learning?:

    • learning, teaching and assessment;

    • opportunities for personal achievement;

    • decision making groups; and

    • connection with the wider community.

  • How can we use PB approaches to involve children and young people, families and the wider community in school improvement planning, including use of Pupil Equity Funds?

  • How can we ensure that our approaches to PB reflect the views and experiences of all learners and families, including those living in our most deprived communities?

  • What model of PB would be most appropriate for our establishment?

  • What impacts and benefits can PB bring – e.g. in areas such as, participation, equity, attainment, relationships and ethos?