Pupils’ Experiences of Authentic Voice and Participatory Practices in a Special School

Prof Doc Thesis

Brett, S E (2018). Pupils’ Experiences of Authentic Voice and Participatory Practices in a Special School. Prof Doc Thesis London South Bank University School of Law and Social Sciences https://doi.org/10.18744/PUB.002749
AuthorsBrett, S E
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This qualitative study seeks to examine the experiences of pupils identified with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in a London special school, and better understand what constitutes authentic voice and participation. The research focuses on pupils labelled as having Complex Mixed Needs (CMN) who may be considered “harder to reach” (Porter, 2009, p. 349) because of their speech and communication difficulties, learning disabilities or complex health needs.
I was motivated to undertake this research by the introduction of Education, Health and Care plans (EHCp) proposed by the Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA) and the updated SEND Code of Practice (CoP) (DfE, 2015), because legislation appears to be championing inclusive practice and enabling unprecedented opportunities to ensure pupils have a say in key issues that affect them.
This research scrutinises aspects of SEND reform and contends that while new legislation enshrines pupil voice and participation in law there appears to be no coherent plan for how this is to be implemented. The concept of voice as speech is far from straightforward and I argue for a reconceptualisation of voice beyond speech. This study examines how voices are heard and if pupils’ experiences of participation correspond to the principles outlined in the EHCp process.
The methodology applied is child-focused and encompasses an action research (AR) approach. This sits well with the emancipatory principles of critical disability theory because it places the voices of pupils identified with CMN at the forefront of research. The Draw, Write and Tell (DWT) approach was utilised to access 19 pupils’ perspectives which provided rich and complex visual, written, verbal and non-verbal data.
This research has important implications for education policy and practice and makes a series of recommendations for change. It advances the debate about pupil voice and participation and establishes that a visual, child-friendly methodology can be employed to support pupils identified with CMN to have their say.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.18744/PUB.002749
Publication dates
Print01 Aug 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Dec 2018
Publisher's version
Permalink -


Download files

  • 559
    total views
  • 1275
    total downloads
  • 18
    views this month
  • 15
    downloads this month

Export as