The Economic and Social Research Council (ESCR), part of the publicly-funded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) body, is providing this investment to what is a three-year project.
It explores the challenging issues behind turning good policy intentions into education practice, with a focus on the participation rights of young children and how these are enacted within the classroom environment.
The project and its team of researchers has a strong Welsh influence, with experts from three universities, Swansea, Cardiff Metropolitan and Wales Trinity Saint David, as well as the University of the West of England Bristol.
Dr Jacky Tyrie, senior lecturer in education in the School of Social Sciences, and Professor Jane Williams, from the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, both at Swansea University, said: “We feel privileged and excited to be provided with this opportunity by the ESRC to explore, with children and teachers, how participation of young children aged five to seven can be embedded into daily practices within our Welsh primary schools.
‘Turning policy intentions into classroom practice’
“We are delighted to be building on Swansea’s cross-disciplinary research strengths on children’s rights, including through the work of the Children’s Rights in Early Year Network, Observatory on Human Rights of Children, Children’s Legal Centre Wales and Lleisiau Bach Little Voices.”
This programme, they add, is working towards seeing children’s rights placed centrally within legislation and provision in Wales and, in the school context, that the Welsh education curriculum is underpinned by a commitment to the four purposes which enshrine children’s rights.
The researchers say pedagogic practices – how educators facilitate and promote children’s lifelong learning – to support the enactment of young children’s participation rights are inconsistent. At times they 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.
‘Children’s rights put centrally within legislation’
Dr Sarah Chicken, Principal Investigator from UWE, said the team was ‘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. “
Professor Alison Park, Interim Executive Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council, added: “Through the Education Research Programme, ESRC is funding important new research that will generate insights and help address ongoing challenges for the UK’s compulsory education systems, including how to attract, educate and retain excellent teachers, and how to adopt and harness the benefits of new technologies.
“The programme will support both teachers and children by tackling issues such as resilience, participation, recruitment, training and retention.”