Pupil involvement in school (re)design: participation in policy and practice

Olga den Besten, John Horton, Peter Kraftl

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Over the last decade, an array of policy interventions relating to children, young people and education in the UK have positioned pupil participation in the (re)design of school environments as a key imperative. Indeed, pupil participation is an explicit, core ideal of major, ongoing school (re)construction and (re)design programmes in the UK such as Building Schools for the Future, Academy schools, and Primary Capital Funding. The aim of this paper is to juxtapose the ideals of participation as expressed in national policy statements, via-à-vis the ways in which participation in these contexts is being done (or not) in practice. To this end, the paper presents findings from in-depth interviews with Local Authority officers responsible for the implementation of policies relating to school (re)building and (re)design in diverse localities. These interviews show how the idea(l) of pupil participation may, in practice, be foreclosed by contingencies, budgets, issues, debates, personalities and events at grassroots level. The paper will suggest that national policy-making regarding participation should be better grounded in the complex and diverse realities of the (re)design of school environments in practice
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-210
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


  • Building Schools for the Future
  • School design
  • pupil participation


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