Children’s rights and participation

Our research explores how children and young people learn about their rights, and participate in decision-making about matters that affect their education and other services.

Our research here has situated intergenerational dialogue approach to data collection, change, learning and impact. Many of our research projects - funded within Scotland and internationally - have reshaped the practices of educators, communities and the policies of key actors.

We’ve also worked on inclusion for children with additional needs for educational support, with a particular emphasis on those with language and behavioural difficulties.

Impacts have been realised through new guidelines, toolkits, and training for professionals in children’s services. The goals of the realisation of children’s participatory rights, improved relations between generations, greater efficacy in professional practice and support for children’s educational and wider development are addressed in connected ways.

Our researchers


Improving children and young people’s rights-based participation in decision making in Scotland and internationally

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides for children’s freedom to express their views in matters that affect them. University of Stirling’s research across a range of projects shows how relevant and consequential dialogue between adults and children - rather than merely ‘listening to views’ in tokenistic ways - helps realise that right.

The research projects have reshaped the policies of Scottish Government, Education Scotland and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner. Research has led to new guidelines, toolkits, and training for all professionals in children’s services in Scotland and internationally.

These have improved professional practice and supported children’s educational development.

Completed linked projects were funded by:

  • Education Scotland
  • Scottish Government
  • Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland

Chitetetzo: improving adolescent road safety and reducing road traffic collisions

This project, commencing in 2021, aims to work with children and young people in Malawi to enable them to understand how road traffic environment impacts and effects their rights to lead healthy, happy and safe lives. The project uses intergenerational dialogue to develop and communicate young people’s vision of a safer future road traffic environment.

The project impacts are realized through empowering children and young people to be catalysts for social change in civic and political environments through expressive skills, visual arts and other media.

Research project with NMAHP, BES, Education (Faculty of Social Sciences), Health Sciences

Funder: MRC. Timescale: 1 Mar 2021 - 30 Apr 2024 Funding £742,960

Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe

An EU ‘COST’ action

Over four years (2016 – 2020), 32 countries were involved in understanding how best to involve the young as participants in citizen science: this involves collaborating, contributing and assisting in real science projects within school and beyond. The working group in which staff at Stirling were involved focused on the issues and challenges of embedding Citizen Science in educational programming.

Funder: EU Commission. Working Group 2 – Synergies with Education. (Participant)


Mannion, G. (2012) Children and Young People’s Participation in Scotland: Frameworks, standards and principles for practice. Children & Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

Mannion, G. & Sowerby, M. with Education Scotland (2018) Learner Participation in Educational Settings (3-18). Edinburgh: Education Scotland.

Mannion, G., Sowerby, M., I’Anson, J. (2020) Four Arenas of School-based Participation: Towards a heuristic for children’s rights-informed educational practice. In Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2020.1795623

Mannion, G., Sowerby, M. and I’Anson, J. (2015) How Young People’s Participation in School Supports Achievement and Attainment. Funder: Children & Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

Quennerstedt A, Robinson C & I'Anson J (2018) The UNCRC – the Voice of Global Consensus on Children’s Rights? Nordic Journal of Human Rights / Nordisk Tidsskrift for Menneskerettigheter, 36 (1), pp. 38-54.

Robinson C, Quennerstedt A & I'Anson J (2019) The translation of articles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into education legislation: the narrowing of Article 12 as a consequence of translation. Curriculum Journal.

Roche, J., Bell, L., Galvão, C., Golumbic, Y.N., Kloetzer, L., Knoben, N., Laakso, M., Lorke, J., Mannion, G., Massetti, L. and Mauchline, A. (2020). Citizen Science, Education, and Learning: Challenges and Opportunities. Frontiers in Sociology, 5, article 613814. doi: 10.3389/fsoc.2020.613814 

Example Impact through Outputs, Toolkits, Policy Guidance 'Learner Participation in Educational Settings 3-18' was co-authored by University of Stirling researchers Mannion and Sowerby for Education Scotland. There are also other resources, including a self-evaluation tool and videos which were co-constructed with University of Stirling staff. 

The Seven Golden Rules of Participation. (Available in different languages and for different age groups