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The actual and potential participation of primary school pupils at parents' evenings : a challenge to the established order

Inglis, Gillian (2014) The actual and potential participation of primary school pupils at parents' evenings : a challenge to the established order. Improving Schools, 17 (1). pp. 30-40. ISSN 1365-4802

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As curricular development in Scotland espoused the importance of pupil participation, the extent to which this has been embedded across teachers’ pedagogy into assessment and reporting practices warranted investigation. This article reports a mixed-methods study with parents, pupils and teachers from three Scottish primary schools that examined pupils’ participation in parents’ evenings. Findings revealed that pupils did not attend meetings but were relied upon as a source of preparation by attending parents. Adults rationalized excluding pupils from the perspective of protecting children or indicated a perceived tension between parental and pupil participation. While teachers and parents proposed passive pupil attendance based upon age and meeting content, many pupils were positively disposed towards potential attendance and envisioned more participatory roles during the meetings. I will conclude by suggesting that parents’ evenings practice merits careful revision to reflect current educational discourse.