07 SES 03 A JS, Counteracting Discrimination in Schools and Minority Students’ Educational Experiences
Joint Paper Session NW 07 and NW 26
In educational research literature student voice and participation have been evidenced to have a positively significant relationship to student and teacher well-being, learning about participation in democratic society, and association with school improvement. Yet, based on a review of available literature, large attention has been and is still given to the empirical exploration student voice and participation, and much less attention has been given to conceptual exploration, particularly its relationship to school leadership, apart from a few distinct contributions. Therefore, a lack of clarity exists for school leadership in terms of authentically engaging with students’ right to voice and participation. This is an important matter: it has been critically asserted that without committed school leadership, student voice and participation which affords a new order of experience is compromised. Some issues for school leadership include trust, questioning tradition, and whether the concepts of student voice and participation constitute a fad or a policy technology. Another is whether student voice and participation is a new order of experience with potential to democratically rework the invisibly woven micro-political order taut in the traditional structures of schooling.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been adopted by almost every country in the world and is therefore a common legal and ethical framework upon which to draw. One if its general principles is articulated by Article 12: the child’s views must be considered in matters affecting the child. Other key documents contributing to the legislative and policy context in this regard in Ireland include the Education Act (1998); the National Children’s Strategy (2000); and ‘Student Councils: A Voice for Students’ (Department of Education and Science, 2002). As of December 2016, a draft of the Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill 2016 has also been made available. Observable in this collective of documents is the fact that, in terms of children’s rights and participation, the state is defined as the primary agent of justice, while the school appears as a secondary agent of justice. While this conforms to the international legislative arrangements to which the state subscribes, such as the UNCRC, it simultaneously renders indeterminate upon whom more specific duties of justice regarding voice and participation fall in the school context. This is problematic because, by default, it raises a common critique of a rights-based approach whereby there exists “focus on recipience and rights rather than on action and obligation” (O’Neill, 2016, p. 180). This claim is legitimised by analysing a broad range of empirical evidence in which observed patterns of student voice and levels of participation raise questions and concerns regarding sociohistorical and cultural structures, justice, and the matter of obligation in the Irish secondary school context. Arguably, this mirrors numerous international contexts.
A combination of legal and moral philosophy (O’Neill), educational interpretations of human rights law (Lundy), and of educational leadership theory – particularly that of distributed leadership – constitutes the theoretical nexus of this paper, exploring obligation in a distinct, novel, internationally relevant framework, with practical implications for theory, policy, and practice.
So, if student voice and participation have been evidenced to be positively significant, why do they tend to be obscured through the leadership in and administration of Irish secondary schools? This is the central question and purpose of this paper, and through drawing on an interdisciplinary critique surrounding issues of current policy, it is hoped to illuminate not just that school leadership ought to engage in authentic engagement with student voice and participation in the secondary school, but also identify how to render this more likely to be a realisable and practical possibility.
Czerniawski, G. (2012). Repositioning trust: a challenge to inauthentic neoliberal uses of pupil voice. Management in Education, 26(3), 130–139. Day, C., Gu, Q., & Sammons, P. (2016). The Impact of Leadership on Student Outcomes How Successful School Leaders Use Transformational and Instructional Strategies to Make a Difference. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(2), 221–258 Devine, D. (2013). Practising leadership in newly multi-ethnic schools: tensions in the field? Fielding, M., & Bragg, S. (2003). Students as Researchers: Making a difference. Cambridge, UK: Pearson Publishing. Fleming, D. (2015). Student Voice: An Emerging Discourse in Irish Education Policy. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 8(2), 223–242 Gunter, H., & Thomson, P. (2007). But, where are the children? Management in Education, 21(1), 23–28. Lodge, C. (2005). From hearing voices to engaging in dialogue: problematising student participation in school improvement. Journal of Educational Change, 6(2), 125–146. Lundy, L. (2007). “Voice” is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. British Educational Research Journal, 33(6), 927–942. Muijs, D., Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., Raffo, C., Goldrick, S., Kerr, K., … Miles, S. (2010). Leading under pressure: leadership for social inclusion. School Leadership & Management, 30(2), 143–157. O’Neill, O. (2016). Justice across boundaries: whose obligations? Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press. Pekrul, S., & Levin, B. (2007). Building Student Voice for School Improvement. In D. Thiessen & A. Cook-Sather (Eds.), International Handbook of Student Experience in Elementary and Secondary School (pp. 711–726). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. Quinn, S., & Owen, S. (2016). Digging deeper: Understanding the power of “student voice.” Australian Journal of Education, 60(1), 60–72. Rudduck, J., & McIntyre, D. (2007). Improving learning through consulting pupils. London: Routledge. Smyth, E. (2016) Students' experiences and perspectives on secondary education: institutions, transitions and policy. UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Spillane, J. P. (2006). Distributed leadership (1st ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Sugrue, C. (2011). Leadership" professionally responsible rule bending and breaking? In C. Sugrue & T. Solbrekke (Eds.), Professional responsibility: new horizons of praxis (pp. 127–143). New York: Routledge. Urinboyev, R., Wickenberg, P., & Leo, U. (2016). Child Rights, Classroom and School Management: A Systematic Literature Review. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 24(3), 522–547.
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