Playing catch-up in the schoolyard? Children and young people's 'voice' and education rights in the UK

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This article aims to assess cross-UK progress in the recognition of the independent education rights of children and young people of school age. There is an increasing divergence between the separate education systems of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, which has become more pronounced after the devolution of power that began just over a decade ago and is accentuated by the sheer volume of legislative activity and policy developments in this field. Thus, an examination of these rights in the UK necessitates comparisons between these four jurisdictions, notwithstanding the many shared traditions in their approach to education and its governance. The article gives its principal focus to rights relating to participation in decision making and redress processes, including those concerning consultation, appeals, and complaints. Analysing recent developments across a range of key aspects of education, including the curriculum, discipline, and special and additional support needs, the author finds not only a reasonable degree of overall progress in the realization of children and young people's autonomy interests in the field of education, from a rather low point particularly compared with child law more generally, but also a degree of disparity across the UK and a continuing cynicism about the true level of empowerment of children and young people in relation to decisions concerning their education. © 2009 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-366
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Policy and The Family
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


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