A study of three child’s voice initiatives and their impact for the year 6 participants and their junior school
Soanes, Heather Rhona
This case study carried out during 2007 – 2009 investigates how a Junior School has been able to give primary school children a voice through the provision of decision and democratic power-sharing opportunities in its inherent culture. An inclusive philosophical vision has been created within an educational and broad socio-cultural context where children’s contributions are deemed valid and important. A pedagogy has developed which provides experiences that enable children to practice and experiment with critical elements of consultation, participation, responsibility, emotional intelligence and transformational learning. It is proposed that pupils are able to develop confidence in preparing for their next phase of education and a world ‘not yet known’ (Lodge, 2000: 97). \ud \ud Data is drawn from three school based initiatives: School Council Initiative; Guardian Angel Initiative and the Master Class Mentor Initiative involving 16 children (15 aged 10 – 11 years and 1 aged 12 years), and 12 adults, and takes the form of individual and group interviews. The data analysis identified 4 emergent themes: confidence, trust, autonomous agency and transformation of self, and showed that there was a positive impact on the pupils through decision-making opportunities both on the school culture and the school community itself characterised by trust and the development of autonomy. \ud \ud The findings show that there is an ongoing dichotomy that exists between ‘giving children a say’ and empowering them through taking notice of their viewpoints and insights. If children obtain the trust from adults around them, they frequently rise to the challenge and will accept the responsibility offered to them, and in many cases surpass expectations. \ud \ud It is proposed that the findings of this study will be of relevance to a variety of professionals looking to refocus 21st century education and improve the contribution of children. A model and toolkit has been devised to support this approach.
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