Seen and heard, and then not heard: Scottish pupils' experience of democratic educational practice during the transition from primary to secondary school

  • Published on
    16-Feb-2017

  • View
    212

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

Transcript

  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Southern Queensland]On: 10 October 2014, At: 06:55Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Oxford Review of EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/core20

    Seen and heard, and then notheard: Scottish pupils experienceof democratic educational practiceduring the transition from primary tosecondary schoolRoss Deuchar aa University of Strathclyde , UKPublished online: 16 Jan 2009.

    To cite this article: Ross Deuchar (2009) Seen and heard, and then not heard: Scottish pupilsexperience of democratic educational practice during the transition from primary to secondaryschool, Oxford Review of Education, 35:1, 23-40

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03054980802018871

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.

    This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/core20http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03054980802018871http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • Oxford Review of EducationVol. 35, No. 1, February 2009, pp. 2340

    ISSN 0305-4985 (print)/ISSN 1465-3915 (online)/09/01002318 2009 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/03054980802018871

    Seen and heard, and then not heard: Scottish pupils experience of democratic educational practice during the transition from primary to secondary schoolRoss Deuchar*University of Strathclyde, UKTaylor and FrancisCORE_A_302053.sgm10.1080/03054980802018871Oxford Review of Education0305-4985 (print)/1465-3915 (online)Original Article2008Taylor & Francis0000000002008RossDeucharross.j.deuchar@strath.ac.uk

    Education for citizenship is firmly on the policy agenda throughout Britain, and there is an expec-tation that teachers will create a participative, consultative ethos in schools. This paper identifiesthree main vehicles for pupil consultation: elected pupil councils, democratic and participativeclassrooms and opportunities for pupils to engage with controversial issues within the curriculum.It focuses on a longitudinal study of pupils experience of democratic practice in Scottish schools inrelation to these vehicles. Evidence from a diverse sample of primary schools illustrates the way inwhich upper-stage pupils are encouraged to participate in decision-making processes and engagein the discussion of contemporary social issues of their own interest both in the classroom andduring pupil council meetings. In addition, further evidence of the extent to which these samepupils experience of the democratic process evolves following their transition to secondary schoolis reported. The paper raises new questions about the extent to which Scottish pupils may beexposed to a progressive model of democratic education, and suggests that children may be givenmore opportunities for consultation in primary school than they are in the early stages of secondaryschool.

    Introduction: a new, pragmatic focus on citizenship and democracy

    The renewed interest in education for citizenship and democracy has emerged froma general renewal of interest in values in education and also the perceived need for amore participative approach to school organisation. This has coincided with anumber of wider political developments throughout the world, such as the emergence

    *Department of Childhood and Primary Studies, University of Strathclyde, Faculty of Education,Glasgow G13 1PP, UK. Email: ross.j.deuchar@strath.ac.uk

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f So

    uthe

    rn Q

    ueen

    slan

    d] a

    t 06:

    55 1

    0 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • 24 R. Deuchar

    of recently democratised states such as South Africa and those of Central and EasternEurope and Latin America (Osler & Starkey, 2003). In addition, governments inestablished democracies see education for citizenship as a means of restoring confi-dence in democracy in light of the concern about young peoples apparent disengage-ment with formal politics and alleged alienation from social and community values(Osler & Starkey, 2003, p. 245).

    A plethora of international constitutional developments have had the aim of ensur-ing that young people become involved in political decision-making, such as thecreation of the European Youth Parliament, National Youth Parliaments in theCaribbean and New Zealand as well as the more localised structures in cities acrossEurope (Burke & Grosvenor, 2003; Deuchar, 2007). In Britain, Blairs governmentcreated a new Cabinet Committee for Children and Young People in 2000, whichwas combined with the creation of the Scottish Youth Parliament and Scottish CivicForum (an independent forum for individuals and civic organisations to debate polit-ical issues, share information about current legislation and encourage young peopleto participate in the democratic process). Brown (2003) refers to the principlescreated by the Steering Group that took forward the proposals for the ScottishParliament, with a focus on power sharing, accountability, access, participation andequal opportunities. Many have argued that these same principles should underpinthe organisation within a school.

    The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child makes specific reference to the needfor democratic approaches to childrens participation in school. Articles 1214 statethat children should be given freedom of expression and also given the right to formassociations. In England, the establishment of the Advisory Group on CitizenshipEducation agreed that effective education for citizenship would comprise three inter-related strands: social and moral responsibility, community involvement and politicalliteracy. Firstly, children should learn self-confidence and socially and morallyresponsible behaviour in and beyond the classroom. Secondly, they should learn tobe involved in the concerns of their communities through active civic involvement.Thirdly, they should learn how to make themselves effective in public life throughengaging in conflict resolution and decision-making at local, national and interna-tional levels (QCA, 1998; Kerr, 1999).

    In Scotland, Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS, 2002, p. 7) presents an overallgoal for citizenship in schools which reflects the need for thoughtful and responsibleparticipation in public life and which may find expression through creative andenterprising approaches to issues and problems. In addition, the Scottish Executivesnew proposals for A Curriculum for Excellence outline the need to encourage pupils tobecome successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effectivecontributors to society (Curriculum Review Group, 2004). Indeed, the CurriculumReview Group clearly emphasises the need for democratic values to underpin thepractice in schools:

    Wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity: the words which are inscribed on the mace ofthe Scottish Parliament have helped to define values for our democracy It is one of theprime purposes of education to make our young people aware of the values on which

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f So

    uthe

    rn Q

    ueen

    slan

    d] a

    t 06:

    55 1

    0 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • Scottish pupils and democracy 25

    Scottish society is based and so help them to establish their own stances on matters ofsocial justice and personal and collective responsibility. (Curriculum Review Group,2004, p. 11)

    It is clear, then, that the renewed interest in citizenship over the last ten years hasemerged against wider social and political developments that have put democraticparticipation firmly on the agenda. New constitutional developments have aimed toencourage young people to play a more active part in civic concerns, and many haveargued for these same democratic principles to guide the organisational arrangementsin schools. Since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified bythe British government, this places an obligation to ensure pupil participation iscommonplace in schools.

    Enacting democratic principles in schools

    Democracy is a form of government by consent, and is underpinned by the idea thatcivic and political policies should be decided by open debate based upon reason andargument rather than by dogma or force (Carr, 2003). Thus, a democratic schoolneeds to be based upon these same principles of open discussion, debate and consul-tation. Flutter and Rudduck (2004, p. 5) argue that giving pupils the opportunity toparticipate in school decision-making processes will have a positive impact on youngpeoples attitudes and behaviour. However, they also argue that pupil consultationcan present a school with challenges:

    Teachers may find that pupil consultation brings to light issues which are not simple andstraightforward to address. The process itself can create or deepen tensions, either betweenstaff members or between teachers and pupils Pupils, too, may find consultation uncom-fortable some may regard consultation with deep suspicion or a degree of anxietybecause they are unaccustomed to having their views really listened to by adults. (Flutter& Rudduck, 2004, p. 23)

    Flutter and Rudduck (2004) have created a ladder of pupil participation, based onearlier work by Hart (1997). As Figure 1 illustrates, this ladder outlines the routesthat pupil participation initiatives in schools may follow, describing increasing levelsof involvement from non participation to the highest stage of active engagement. Ina study commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council/Teaching andLearning Research Programme (ESRC/TLRP), data suggest that, while a few schoolsmay have reached the highest rung of the ladder, the majority are implementing initi-atives which fit the descriptions of rungs 1 and 2 (Flutter & Rudduck, 2004). Otherevidence suggests that hierarchical, bureaucratic forms of school organisation stilldominate and that many teachers still favour a didactic approach to teaching andactively discourage pupil initiative and willingness to engage in social activism(Harber, 1995; Kerr et al., 2002; Boyte, 2003; Cunningham & Lavalette, 2004;Harber, 2004; Schweisfurth, 2006; Deuchar, 2007).Figure 1. The ladder of pupil participationIt seems that there are many isolated pockets of exceptional work in many schools,where individual teachers encourage pupils to have a say in the decision-makingprocess or where pupils are encouraged to participate in isolated committees that

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f So

    uthe

    rn Q

    ueen

    slan

    d] a

    t 06:

    55 1

    0 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • 26 R. Deuchar

    promote the pupil voice. However, the UN Convention of the Rights of the Childemphasises that all children have the right to consultation and participation. Theauthors own view is that this type of consultation needs to permeate the whole schooland underpin the implementation of the whole curriculum, so that childrens rightsare fully realised and, in turn, they realise the power of their voices and their potentialfor participating and taking action in the wider community (Hart, 1997; Holden,1998; Holden & Clough, 1998; Alderson, 2000).

    Vehicles for democratic participation

    How can schools ensure that a range of vehicles are used so that a participative,consultative ethos is in evidence throughout the school, as opposed to being confinedto individual teachers in isolated classrooms? The author suggests the need for threevehicles: the election of pupil councils (Deuchar, 2004b, 2006, 2007), the creation ofdemocratic classrooms (Maitles & Gilchrist, 2005) and the discussion of controversialissues of particular interest to the children (Maitles & Deuchar, 2004a, 2004b;Deuchar, 2007). A brief discussion about each of these vehicles now follows.

    Pupil councils

    Both the Advisory Group on Citizenship (QCA, 1998) and its Scottish equivalent(LTS, 2002) have endorsed the need for fully functioning pupil councils (Deuchar,2007). It has been argued that the councils can be a very effective means for signallingto students that they are respected and that their capacity to contribute to the task of

    4. pupils as fully active participants and co-researchers

    3. pupils as researchers

    2. pupils as active participants

    1. listening to pupils

    0. pupils not consulted

    Figure 1. The ladder of pupil participation

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f So

    uthe

    rn Q

    ueen

    slan

    d] a

    t 06:

    55 1

    0 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • Scottish pupils and democracy 27

    school improvement is recognised (Baginsky & Hannam, 1999, p. iii). Internationalresearch suggests that councils can become an important vehicle for children to partic-ipate in their community and in turn promote positive behaviour (Halstead & Taylor,2000; Taylor & Johnson, 2002). Indeed, Oslers (2000, p. 54) study into pupils viewson how effective discipline can be achieved highlights the need for canvassing pupilsviews through suggestions boxes, questionnaires and school councils and ensuringpupil representation on school boards of governors.

    Thus, it is clear that many pupils feel that the creation of school structures forparticipation can play a fundamental role in creating a well-disciplined school. Daviesand Kirkpatrick (2000, p. 43) highlight the work of several Swedish schools, wherecommittees of teacher and pupil representatives meet to design aspects of the curric-ulum and to choose activities, thus enabling pupils to take more responsibility fortheir learning. The greater sense of trust and equality between teachers and pupils ischaracterised by a listening culture, enabling children to achieve greater levels ofconfidence and self-esteem and resulting in fewer identity and behavioural problems(Davies & Kirkpatrick, 2000, p. 77).

    Unlike the UK, a significant number of European countries have legal frameworksrequiring pupil participation in schools. For instance,...