On children's legal right to have their voices heard

28th November 2008 at 00:00

The news that schools will be forced to listen to pupils has raised protests among teachers and heads who are worried the new law will represent yet another form of pressure on already beleaguered schools.

A major concern seems to be about the risk of schools being dragged into court by litigious parents angry that their children have not been granted enough "voice".

It is true that schools have to cope with significant pressure, and that if not sensibly implemented such a law could lead into risky territory. But these initiatives are expected in a country that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention is a legally binding international instrument, with ratifying countries reporting periodically on its implementation. Last year, the UN recommended that the UK should do more in this regard.

Many teachers and heads are already doing a great job in listening to pupils' concerns, making sure their views are accounted for when taking vital decisions.

Young people are perfectly capable of engaging in decision-making, and research suggests that by doing so they develop a sense of ownership that will have a positive effect on motivation and attainment.

But "learner voice" is not only about attainment. It is first and foremost about democracy, about nurturing citizenship and critical thinking, and being open about the possibility that different choices could be made as a result.

Carlo Perrotta, Learning researcher, Futurelab, Bristol.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now