Giving children a voice in their own learning

School pupils putting their hands up in class

How can young children be given the chance to have a voice in their own education? This theme will be explored at an international conference to be held at the University of Strathclyde this week.

Experts in early childhood education will explore how children can be given the opportunity to express their views on how they learn and are taught, with practical examples of how they can be encouraged to do so.

The event forms part of a programme aimed at producing guidelines for practitioners, in keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Professor Kate Wall, of Strathclyde’s School of Education, will chair the conference. She said: “The voice of young children in early childhood education is a relatively under-explored field, yet it has an important role to play in helping them to think, make decisions and understand what their rights are.

“Participants in the seminar have used a variety of creative and developmentally appropriate ways to research this, such as visual approaches, physical activity and imaginative play. The aim is to share this diverse expertise with each other and wider practice communities for whom it is relevant.     

 “This approach to education is prioritised by Scottish policy and is one which many practitioners are keen to take but would want guidelines on doing so. Our conference – and another event planned for later this year – will help to develop this, for the benefit of children and the adults that work with them.”

The conference, Look Who’s Talking: Eliciting the Voices of Children from Birth to Seven, will feature keynote speeches by two international authorities on early childhood education. Professor Ingrid Pramling, of Gothenburg University, will discuss how children’s perspectives can be taken into account in early childhood education and Professor Sue Dockett, of Charles Sturt University in Australia, will explore the theme of the audience for young children’s perspectives and the difference they could make.

The event will take place in the Stenhouse Wing of Strathclyde Business School on Wednesday, 11 January, from 6pm – 8pm.