Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Abstract ─ S. Riddell, University of Edinburgh; N. Harris & G. Davidge, University of Manchester

Respecting the participation rights of children with special and additional support needs in England and Scotland

Legislation passed in 2014 in England and 2016 in Scotland attempts to boost the autonomous rights of children and young people with special and additional support needs, Governments in both nations claim that the new measures place the UK in poll position internationally with regard to implementing Article 12 of the UNCRC, which states that every child capable of forming a view has the right to express that view on all matters of concern to him or her, including on the content of administrative and judicial processes.  The paper draws on 36 case studies of children and their families conducted as part of an Economic and Social Research Council study titled Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm?  The case studies involved children and young people in English and Scottish schools, and included classroom observation and interviews in order to explore children’s involvement in everyday decision-making. The paper illustrates the ways in which schools are attempting to access children’s voices and act on their wishes, and the barriers encountered.  It concludes with a discussion of understandings of children’s autonomous rights in the two nations, highlighting gaps between rhetoric and reality.