Enhancing children's participation in educational decision making Enhancing children's participation in educational decision making

Sue Cox and Anna Robinson-Pant directed two funded research projects with teachers and children in Norfolk schools that engaged with current ideas around student participation and voice within educational policy and practice. ‘Empowering Children through Visual Communication' (CFBT-funded 2003-4) drew on participatory approaches from development contexts (PRA - Participatory Rural Appraisal) to enhance communication and participation in primary school councils. ‘Children as decision-makers: power, participation and purpose in the primary classroom' (CFBT, 2005-6) extended this research through children and their teachers conducting action research on decision making in their classrooms. Cox and Robinson-Pant have developed theoretical debate around their findings in relation to the concept of literacy as social practice  – see ‘Communicative practices and participation in school councils in primary schools in the UK' (in Street's 2005 edited volume on Literacy Across Educational Contexts, Caslon) – as well as in relation to methodological issues arising within action research.
 
Building on these experiences with children as researchers, an ESRC-funded seminar series was held in 2007, which brought together researchers from around the world to discuss approaches to enhancing children's participation in educational decision making, both inside schools and within their communities. An edited book based on case studies presented at the seminar series (Children as decision makers in education, Cox, Dyer, Robinson-Pant, Schweisfurth (eds)) was published in 2010 by Continuum - this included a chapter by Aikman based on her analysis of children's participation within Oxfam programmes. Cox and Robinson-Pant continued their research in this area through integrating child-led research and analysis into an evaluation study in four Cambridgeshire schools on developing the global dimension (commissioned by the NGO Camfed International in 2008). 
 
Publications in this area include:
 
Cox, S. and Robinson-Pant, A. (2010) ‘Children as researchers: a question of risk?' In Cox, S., Dyer, C., Robinson-Pant, A. and M. Schweisfurth, Eds., Children as Decision Makers in Education, London: Continuum
 
Cox, S. and A. Robinson-Pant (2008) ‘Power, participation and decision making in the primary classroom: children as action researchers', Educational Action Research, 16: 4, December