School Councils across Europe

Democratic Forums or Exclusive Clubs?


School Councils across Europe explores how uneven access to the democratic learning opportunity of being a representative on a school council may be both reflecting and perpetuating political inequalities found in societies across Europe. Kempner and Janmaat present a new analysis of data from a major international survey on citizenship education to reveal the country, school and personal characteristics that determine access to school councils. The results reveal worrying inequalities based on the socio-demographic characteristics of pupils. The findings in this book will therefore be of interest to those concerned with the link between education and social justice.

Youth political engagement is high on the agenda of governments across Europe in the face of a perceived decline in political participation amongst young people. This book engages with this issue by exploring the role of education systems in building a fair and democratic society. School councils offer a democratic decision-making forum for students at school and they may increase the future participation levels of these young people. Yet this potential comes with the risk of widening political inequalities if access is distributed unevenly.

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Isabel Kempner is a researcher at the Education Endowment Foundation. She was formerly a primary school teacher and has taught at schools in England, Germany, and France. She received a BERA prize for her MA Comparative Education dissertation on school councils.

Jan Germen Janmaat is Professor of Political Socialization at UCL Institute of Education. He has published widely on the role of education in promoting democratic values and has recently completed a Nuffield-funded project on social inequality in political engagement.
List of Figures

1 Introduction: Access to School Councils

2 Democratic Forums
 1 What Are School Councils?
 2 The Normative Justification
 3 The Pedagogical Justification
 4 Contextualising School Councils within Education
 5 Case Studies
 6 Discussion of the Case Studies
 7 Why School Councils?
 8 Chapter Summary

3 Questions of Access
 1 National Level
 2 School Level
 3 Individual Level

4 A Quantitative Approach
 1 Data Source
 2 Variables
 3 Method

5 Results: Determinants of Access to School Councils across Europe
 1 The Empty Model
 2 Country Level Analysis
 3 School Level Analysis
 4 Initial Observations at the Individual Level
 5 Determinants of Individuals’ Participation (Multi-Level Analysis)

6 Exclusive Clubs
 1 International Overview
 2 The Influence of Political Cultures
 3 The Influence of School Type
 4 The Influence of Socio-Demographic Characteristics
 5 The Implications of Our Findings

7 Improving Democratic Education

Appendix: Full Wording and Coding from the ICCS Questionnaires for All Applicable Variables
All those concerned with the role of education systems in building a fair and democratic society, such as teachers, researchers and policy-makers in the fields of citizenship and comparative education.
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