Professionals’ attitudes toward children’s participation: implementing educational reforms

AuthorEran Uziely
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-04-2018-0049
Pages502-510
Publication Date08 Oct 2018
Professionalsattitudes toward
childrens participation:
implementing educational reforms
Eran Uziely
School of Education, Achva Academic College, Shikmim, Israel
Abstract
Purpose In Israel, the decisionwhich educational framework is most suitable for pupils with special needs
is made by a placement committee. In January 2005, the eighth amendmentof the Israeli Special Education
Law determinedthat all pupils have the legal right to participate in their placement committeesdeliberations.
This paper aims to examinethe implementation of this liberal reform that let young peoplesvoices be heard.
Specically,the focus is on the attitudes of involved professionals (committee chairs,educational supervisors,
teachers, etc.)regarding the law, and whether and in what ways their viewsinuence the extent to which this
law is implemented.
Design/methodology/approach The research used an eight-steplinear scale to investigate both the
desired and actual levels of childrens participation in the committees discussions, as evaluated by
professionals. In addition, the pupilssatisfaction with the discussion process was evaluated, based on the
professionalsperceptions. Furthermore, the research analyzed which socioeconomic, cultural and
occupational variables correlated with the degree of studentsparticipation in and satisfaction with the
process.
Findings The major nding was that manyof the adults responsiblefor the implementation of the reform
do not believe in its principles and are even opposed to child participation. In their discussions, child
participationwas poor.
Originality/value The conclusion drawn from the study is that legislation alone is not enough when
implementing a controversialreform. Spreading of this new social norm must be accompanied by efforts to
promote the conceptof child participation among the professionals who implementit.
Keywords Special education, Childrens rights, Child participation, Placement procedure
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
All over the globe, major educational reforms are conceived and developed in central
government institutions; however, their implementation often depends on the good will of
teachers and other professionals in the eld. In Israel, the Ministry of Education routinely
relies on laws and regulations to enforce new reforms, ignoring the need to persuade and
convince those professionals of its importance. This article discusses the results of that
approach.
Childrens rights and the right to participate
Twenty-ve years ago, Israel ratied the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC), reiterating the commitmentto ensure childrens nurturance rights as dened in
previous international documents. Yet the convention referred also to civic and political
rights, which had never before been grantedto children: freedom of expression, the right to
privacy and the right to participate in decisions that pertain to their own lives (Melton,
2005a). Whereas the need for legislation regarding childrens nurturance rights is fairly
QAE
26,4
502
Received29 April 2018
Accepted7 June 2018
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.26 No. 4, 2018
pp. 502-510
© Emerald Publishing Limited
0968-4883
DOI 10.1108/QAE-04-2018-0049
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0968-4883.htm

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