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CREID Briefing 34: Pupils as Citizens: Participation, responsibility and voice in the transition from primary to secondary school - Executive Summary

Research output: Other contribution

Original languageEnglish
TypeBriefing paper
Media of outputOnline
PublisherCentre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID), University of Edinburgh
Number of pages5
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2017


There is very little literature internationally that examines the curriculum imperatives of pupil participation, responsibility and ‘active citizenship’ through the transition from primary to secondary education. More specifically, there is meagre research on the topic of pupil participation and citizenship, as it relates to the Scottish context. Our previous study which focused on teachers (Ross & Brown, 2013), identified a clear gap in research on the primary-secondary transition and the development of civic competence. We argued that while it was widely recognised that this key transition involved considerable changes for pupils, in terms of their social and academic status (Summerfield, 1986), little information existed on what happened to participation, responsibility, and leadership across this primary-secondary transition, and why.

The study
This briefing addresses findings from a questionnaire administered to 740 children and young people and 17 focus groups carried out with 131 children and young people. We targeted children at the end of their primary education in primary seven (P7), and young people at the beginning of secondary school in year two (S2). Fieldwork in 25 Scottish schools was conducted in two phases. Primary schools were accessed between April and June 2015 and secondary schools between August and December 2015. This is one of the first, large-scale, studies which examines pupil participation at the point of transition internationally. As a result it provides robust empirical evidence, regarding the primary-secondary transition in Scotland in a representative sample of schools. This research was funded by the Gordon Cook Foundation.

ID: 30330920