23 SES 08 A, School Integration Policies and the Idea of Participation (School Differentiation)
Policies governing school improvement and change are increasingly spread through determinations that are simultaneously global and local. International agencies such as the OECD and the World Bank through its Learning for All (2011) are arguing for investment in the development of knowledge and skills through education as a key to human capital development. In turn local authorities are promoting advances that will ensure that their school students are competitive in an ever more demanding world. This being so, we ask whether children and young people are themselves connected into these complex circuits and loops and if so how strong is the connection.
A number of writers have reviewed recent developments in the role that the participation of young people as active agents can play in researching school improvement (Bahou, 2011) and have argued for such engagement within a human rights discourse (Bell, 2008). Most agree, however, that authentic, co-directed, agential engagement in schools is something of a rarity (Fielding & Moss, 2011). Furthermore, there has been a paucity of studies and discussions that address the problematics of power and the ways in which it is manifest in participation (Dentith, Measor, & O’Malley, 2009; Taylor & Robinson, 2009).
This paper will explore the ways in which the adoption of “student voice” as a strategy for school improvement has produced little more than a shadow, a sketchy outline, an adumbration of the concerns that children and young people encounter in their daily experiences.
Bahou, L. (2011) Rethinking the Challenges and Possibilities of Student Voice and Agency. Educate, Special Issue January, pp. 2 - 14 Bell, N. (2008) Ethics in Child Research: Rights, Reason and Responsibility. Children’s Geographies, 6 (1) pp. 7 – 20. Dentith, A., Measor, L. & O’Malley, M. (2009) Stirring Dangerous Waters: Dilemmas for Critical Participatory Reseach with Young People. Sociology, 43 (1) pp. 158 – 168. Fielding, M. & Moss, P. (2011) Radical Education and the Common School. London: Routledge. Groundwater-Smith, S., Mockler, N., Mitchell, J., Ponte, P. & Ronnerman, K. (2013). Facilitating Practitioner Research: Developing Transformational Partnerships. Abingdon: Routledge Hart, R. (1992) Children’s Participation: From Tokenism to Citizenship. Florence: UNICEF International Child Development Centre. Taylor, C. & Robinson, C. (2009) Student Voice: Theorising Power and Participation. Pedagogy, Culture and Society. 17 (2) pp. 161 – 175 World Bank (2011) Learning for All: World Bank Education Strategy, 2020. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development – The World Bank. Washington DC
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