25 SES 11, Participation as a Theme in Children’s Rights Research
We know that negotiating school transitions is a significant point, as well as a potentially challenging experience for many children across European schools. While there has been considerable interest in the impact of school transitions on various aspects of children’s educational and social maturation i.e. their achievement (Topping et al. 2007), well-being and friendships (Graham and Hill, 2003), very little is currently known about the views of teachers and pupils about participation across the school transition from primary to secondary school. In Scotland, as elsewhere in Europe, this marks a crucial juncture where children (aged 11/12 years of age in Scotland) move from a relatively small, primary school environment to a larger secondary school with many more pupils, a greater number of teachers and, by comparison a much larger school site to negotiate. This paper draws on findings from two related studies which are:
- A qualitative interview study of the accounts of teachers towards young people’s participation at the point of the primary secondary school transition.
- A mixed methods study of children and young people’s views regarding participation at the end of primary school and at the beginning secondary school.
Broadly, the purpose of these two inter- linked projects was to understand how citizenship education was managed over this period and how teachers and young people viewed opportunities for participation across this key transition. This focus was prompted by a widespread recognition that pupil voice, participation and responsibility were key priorities for educational policy, as well as school level activity. In part, the promotion of children’s participation has been driven by Article 12 of Convention for the Rights of the Child (Raby 2014). The studies sought to address the following questions:
- In what ways did teachers talk about children ‘as citizens’?
- How did teachers understand the primary-secondary transition in relation to citizenship practices, such as pupil voice, participation and responsibility?
- What is authentic participation from the point of view of young people?
This paper considers the implications of the above studies for our understanding of children’s rights to participation in schools. As a result, it compares teachers’ visions of children’s participatory competence and also draws on preliminary findings from an ongoing project of the views of pupils that examines the understanding of children at two very different moments in their educational careers.
GRAHAM, C. & HILL, M. 2003. Negotiating the transition to secondary school, Scottish Council for Research in Education. RABY, R. 2014. Children’s participation as neo-liberal governance Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, Vol. 35. no.1:77-89. TOPPING, K. J., A. THURSTON, TOLMIE, A., CHRISTIE, D., MURRAY, P. & GRAHAM, C. & KARAGIANNIDOU, E. 2007. Group work: transition into secondary, The Scottish Government.
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