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date: 07 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores how Article 12 and the voice of the child are implemented. The chapter does so by making specific reference to ways in which children express themselves within two different English primary schools. The chapter introduces Article 12 as a commitment to giving due attention to children’s experiences. Using data vignettes, the chapter illustrates the value of paying attention to children by focusing on the micro moments of everyday school life. The chapter argues that children’s participation is necessarily political, suggesting that participation must be read as such and demonstrating how it is often subsumed within powerful dominant schooling discourses of conformity within different governmental climates that are regarded as beyond politics. The chapter identifies limited possibilities for transformation in the study’s research sites, discussed in terms of children achieving agency and enacting their own subjectivities. This is apparent even within the less coercive ethos of a school participating in the Rights Respecting Schools Initiative (UNICEF). The chapter argues that in order to open up possible transformational participatory spaces, adults in schools need to require opportunities to reflect together on the tensions within their own educational contexts and between supporting children’s participation and their conformity to wider schooling discourses. The chapter suggests that the provision of such opportunities will help to keep a focus on listening to children in line with the ambitions of Article 12.

Keywords: children, Article 12, participation, subjectivity, agency, school, education, children’s rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child

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