Accessibility

Voice’ Is Not Enough: Conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Image is illustrative. Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

This article provides a children’s rights critique of the concept of ‘pupil voice’. The analysis is founded on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives children the right to have their views given due weight in all matters affecting them. Drawing on research conducted on behalf of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, the article assesses some of the barriers to the meaningful and effective implementation of the right within education. It is argued that the phrases which are commonly used as abbreviations for Article 12, such as ‘pupil voice’, have the potential to diminish its impact as they provide an imperfect summary of the full extent of the obligation. The article proposes a new model, which has four key elements, for conceptualising Article 12— Voice, Audience and Influence.