Researching (with) Children in School Settings

Guidance on conducting research with minors in a school setting.

If you are conducting research with minors in a school setting in Edinburgh, you MUST get permission to conduct research in the school(s) from the City of Edinburgh Council. For CEC, this can take up to 4 weeks. See here for details: rke-permission-to-contact-local-authority-schools-june2017.pdf (  

Obviously, if conducting research beyond the CEC area (North Berwick, for example), you will need to seek the correct local authority permissions.  

Basic Disclosure and Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) 

You will also need to decide if Basic Disclosure will suffice or whether you (and any other researchers involved with the project) need a PVG.  

 Applications for Basic Disclosure can be made here: Apply for basic disclosure - A PVG is not generally required where the researcher will not be alone with the children (ie, without the presence of a teacher or other professional adult such as a PSA), but is often required when there is sustained contact with a school for research purposes, or if the researcher will be alone with children. Even if you deem it not necessary to join the PVG scheme, if the school insists on a PVG, then that is the route to go. Bear in mind that Basic Disclosure can take up to 14 days to process and the PVG up to 6 months! There may also be a charge for either scheme. 

Staff should consult the following guidance: Disclosure and Risk Assessment | The University of Edinburgh 

Students should consult the following guidance: PVG-Disclosure Scotland | The University of Edinburgh 

If under 16, then parental consent for children to participate in research is needed. For those pupils who may be 16-18, it is normal to assume they will have capacity to consent without parental involvement. However, see also the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 ( if participants in this age bracket may be deemed to not have capacity to consent.  

Further information: 

Types of Disclosure: Types of disclosure - 

The PVG Scheme: Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme - 

Child-friendly Participant Information Sheets and Participant Consent Forms: MAGENTA participant information sheets | Centre for Academic Child Health | University of Bristol