London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Young children have a right to participate actively in shaping their own lives. In reality to what extent are their voices heard? A study in an early years setting

Author(s) Bowden-Clissold, N.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2011  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell, Europe's Future: Citizenship in a Changing World  
Age group -  
As an early years’ practitioner , I find myself in the midst of political and social initiatives to raise the profile of children’s voices in acknowledging them as fundamental to shaping all aspects of their lives. This focus is reflected in the many early years agendas (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNCRC,1989; the Children Act, Her Majesty’s Government 2004, Every Child Matters, DfES, 2004) yet professionally I experience, as asserted by Pascal and Bertram (2009), that despite a paradigm shift in the view of childhood, a gap exists between policy and practice. Despite the declared fundamental principle of the early years curriculum, (DCSF, 2008a, 2008b) to firmly place the interests of the child at the centre, I experience that practice remains predominantly adult-initiated and led. My study includes a focus on illuminating attitudes and beliefs as practitioners towards ‘child voice’, looking with openness and frankness at the potential and actual enables and disablers, and investigating ways in which we can begin to realistically increase children’s participation in creating an authentic child-centred approach that promotes inclusive practice, equal opportunity and respect for the rights of children to be heard (Wood, 2008). Keywords: rights; voice; curriculum; young children

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