University of Wales Trinity St David (UK) UWTSD is part of collaborative research team investigating embedding children’s rights into classroom practice

The project research team working on the three-year project includes:

Dr Sarah Chicken, UWE, Bristol (Principal Investigator)
Dr Jane Waters-Davies and Dr Alison Murphy, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Dr Jacky Tyrie and Professor Jane Williams, Swansea University
Dr Jennifer Clement, Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Debi Keyte-Hartland, Pedagogical Consultant and Artist-Educator
Associate Professor Dr Jane Waters-Davies and Dr Alison Murphy said: “We are delighted to have been successful in receiving ESRC funding for this exciting and important collaborative project.

“Exploring how pedagogy can routinely embed young children’s participative rights is an urgent issue, both locally within the new Curriculum for Wales but also internationally.

“By working with teachers in Welsh schools over three years, this project will help us understand how to realise children’s participation within early schooling.”

The Welsh policy context is such that children’s rights are centrally placed within legislation and provision. In the school context, the Curriculum for Wales is underpinned by a commitment to four purposes which enshrine children’s rights. The research problem arises as a result of evidence that indicates, despite this policy rhetoric, that young children’s participation rights are often understood in a one-dimensional manner.

Pedagogic practices to support the enactment of young children’s participation rights are inconsistent, and at times reflect ‘restricted’ approaches to children’s enactment of rights in which only certain children can make certain choices, at certain times, within certain spaces, and for certain reasons. Focussing on young children, aged 5-7 years, in the school context, this project considers how pedagogic practices can embed participatory rights for all children, and attend, routinely, to children’s voice and agency. The project adopts an innovative participatory research design, initially exploring the research problem with young children and their teachers via creative methods, and then with student teachers and their educators in university- and school-based accredited partnerships providing initial teacher education in Wales.

Principle Investigator Dr Sarah Chicken said: “As a team we are particularly excited by the opportunity of working collaboratively with children and educators across Wales and to develop sustainable networks beyond the life course of the study. We feel that our project has potential impact on the space where theory, practice, and policy meet.”