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Improving urban environments: why children's voices should be heard

the project as 'one of the best professional experiences in many years of teaching'.

The researchers found that urban children were very knowledgeable about their local community and were directly affected by such problems as air and noise pollution, traffic dangers and crime. They increasingly found themselves with nowhere to go and nothing to do, particularly around the age of 11 and 12 when they move from primary to secondary school and are start to move away from their home-centred, adult-controlled childhoods.

Professor Scott and his team noted that children's ideas about the environment were rarely sought when planning decisions were made. Children did not know how to make their voices heard and believed that their schools should support them in getting their views across. Moreover, the researchers suggest that this lack of connection between children's experience of school and their out-of-school lives contributes to their decline in academic progress and motivation experienced by many children in the early years of secondary school.

The project was highly successful in establishing ways for children to participate in planning decisions. The children produced a DVD and organised a Children's Conference where all Year 7 pupils were able to participate and question a panel of school and local officials. As a result, the police community liaison officer and the local authority parks committee representative agreed to come into the school to listen to the children's concerns. The work of the project continues in the school and is being extended to other local schools.


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Contact: Annika Howard
annika.howard@esrc.ac.uk
44-017-934-13119
Economic & Social Research Council
5-Jul-2006


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