Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Pupils as citizens

Pupil views on school citizenship and the transition from primary to secondary school.


Civic competence on transition is under-researched compared to a more general attention to transition, which focuses on the areas of achievement and attainment, social adjustment, at-risk status, and ethnicity (McGee et al., 2004). In those other areas, there is strong evidence of transition effects (e.g. Hattie, 2008, West et al., 2010). Several authors have highlighted the need for an examination of transition and civic competence but meagre work has been undertaken (Cross et al., 2009, Deuchar, 2009, HMIE, 2006, Zeedyk et al., 2003).

The present 2-year project plans to administer a major cross-sectional survey of Scottish school pupils on either side of primary-secondary transition, with related focus group investigations. It is anticipated that approximately 750 young people will complete the survey and over 100 pupils will take part in focus group discussions.

This study draws on previous Gordon Cook Foundation work by the same researchers that explored this citizenship/transition context from Scottish teachers’ perspectives and which offered clear direction for a pupil investigation.

Previous study: Teachers' perceptions of pupil active citizenship and the transition from primary to secondary school

Project aim

The prime purpose of this project is to explore the ways in which pupil participation and voice is facilitated across the primary/secondary school transition from the point of children and young people. It aims:

  • To investigate what is authentic and meaningful participation (voice, leadership, responsibility), from the point of view of pupils
  • To compare and contrast pupil’s views on participatory opportunities on either side of primary-secondary transition
  • To identify to what extent children view themselves as participatory citizens of their respective primary and secondary school communities

Research outputs



Article featuring the project on SchoolEducationGateway


Start date September 2014
End date Ocotober 2018

Project team

Dr Jane Brown

Dr Linda Croxford

Sarah Minty


Date(s) Event & Host Presenter(s) Presentation
11-13 September 2018

BERA Annual Conference 2018

– Hosted by Northumbria University, Newcastle 

Jane Brown, Sarah Minty, Gillean McCluskey, Linda Croxford

Changing childhood and the primary-secondary transition: the significance of children’s everyday freedoms, self-governance and autonomy
6-7 September 2018

Contemporary Childhood Conference 2018: Children in Space, Place and Time"

– Hosted by the School of Education, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Jane Brown, Sarah Minty, Linda Croxford The Primary-secondary transition: the significance of children’s sense of space and place in their accounts of transition
21-22 November 2017

Grant Holders Seminar

– Hosted by Gordon Cook Foundation

Jane Brown, Linda Croxford & Sarah Minty Pupils as Citizens: participation, responsibility and voice in the transition from primary to secondary school
23-25 November 2016

SERA Conference 2016 "Challenging? Attainment and Improvement ..."

– Hosted by SERA, University of Dundee, Dundee

Jane Brown The primary-secondary transition: children and young people’s views on opportunities for participation and responsibility at school
02-03 September 2016

"Young Citizens and Society: Fostering Civic Participation" Conference

– Hosted by University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Jane Brown and Linda Croxford Citizens now or citizens in the making? What a study of school transitions and pupil participation can tell us about children as citizens
22-26 August 2016

ECER Conference 2016 "Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers"

– Hosted by ECER, University College Dublin

ane Brown and Linda Croxford The primary-secondary school transition: children as competent citizens or citizens in the making?
06-08 June 2016

VII Conference on Childhood Studies

– Hosted by University of Turku, Finland

Brown and Linda Croxford Negotiating the primary-secondary transition: what children say about opportunities for participation and responsibility at school.

Related news

Findings in 'Pupil as Citizens' report mentioned by TESS (31.03.2017)