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

Deuchar, R. (2009) Seen and heard, and then not heard: Scottish pupils' experience of democratic educational practice during the transition from primary to secondary school. Oxford Review of Education, 35 (1). pp. 23-40. ISSN 0305-4985

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Abstract

Education for citizenship is firmly on the policy agenda throughout Britain, and there is an expectation that teachers will create a participative, consultative ethos in schools. This paper identifies three main vehicles for pupil consultation: elected pupil councils, democratic and participative classrooms 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 in relation to these vehicles. Evidence from a diverse sample of primary schools illustrates the way in which upper-stage pupils are encouraged to participate in decision-making processes and engage in the discussion of contemporary social issues of their own interest both in the classroom and during pupil council meetings. In addition, further evidence of the extent to which these same pupils' experience of the democratic process evolves following their transition to secondary school is reported. The paper raises new questions about the extent to which Scottish pupils may be exposed to a progressive model of democratic education, and suggests that children may be given more opportunities for consultation in primary school than they are in the early stages of secondary school.