New research: compelling evidence of “extensive student engagement” in Educate Together schools

Research conducted by Shivaun O’Brien et al from Dublin City University, which explored student participation in Educate Together primary schools, was recently published in the International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education. It found that Educate Together pupils report high levels of participation across each of the participation arenas, of classroom, outside of the classroom, and in decision-making at the whole school level.

Here are some of the findings:

  • “A ‘wide spectrum’ (Percy-Smith 2010) of participation opportunities is provided to students, ranging from those that could be described as simply taking part, to those that have a significant impact on the operation of the school (Lundy 2007; Mannion, Sowerby, and I’Anson 2022).
  • “Students reported overwhelmingly that school provides opportunities to participate in outside of class activities or events, of which they identified thirty-five different kinds. Similar to the co-curricular options discovered by Graham et al. (2018), these include extracurricular activities, school events and committees. This wide range of participation activities reflects Educate Togethers’ aim to ensure that students feel they belong and where schools  ‘value and celebrate the range of students’ talents, efforts and achievements’ (O’Brien 2020:7).
  • “Generally, students have numerous opportunities to have their voice heard in relation to school issues and to input into decision-making. This finding is in stark contrast to the high level of dissatisfaction among Irish students in relation to their level of decision-making in school, as reported by Horgan et al. (2015).
  • “Educate Together is an example of how a national network of schools established as policy, the centrality of student participation to how schools’ function. Having made this commitment, it is currently in the process of building student participation through its ethos quality framework which provides schools with quality standards and statements of effective practice, which are used by schools to create expectations for members of the school community, evaluate, monitor and improve key aspects of their ethos including student participation. Although it is still a work in progress, this cohesive approach to student participation across a national network of 114 schools may serve as a model of what may be described as an ‘enabling environment’ (Crowley, Larkins, and Pinto 2021) which may inform schools internationally on how to nurture effective student participation at school.”

For more, see the full article here: Student participation in Irish primary schools