Child participation in South African primary schools: How useful is the Lundy model?

Kelly A. Long, Carolyn (Callie) Grant
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 14, No 1 | a1354 | DOI: | © 2024 Kelly Anne Long, Carolyn (Callie) Grant | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 March 2023 | Published: 13 May 2024

About the author(s)

Kelly A. Long, Department of Research and Communications, GADRA Education, Makhanda, South Africa
Carolyn (Callie) Grant, Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa


Background: The concept of ‘learner voice’ has received global attention in recent years, frequently credited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC recognises that children have (1) the right to express a view and (2) the right to have the view given due weight. However, in many countries, including South Africa, despite legislation that recognises child rights, there is a relative absence of learner voice and participation in school-level decision-making.

Setting: The setting of this continuing professional development (CPD) initiative is GADRA Education, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in Makhanda Eastern Cape.

Method: A consultative participation approach was adopted with Grades 2–4 learners, under the auspices of GADRA Education. Eight child participation consultations were held, followed by a further eight feedback sessions 5 months later. All were audio-recorded.

Results: The results of the CPD initiative suggest that the model provides a useful framework for increasing child participation in primary schools. However, further deliberation is necessary ‘with’ learners around choices related to space, audience, and the alternative ‘hat’ of the facilitating teacher.

Conclusion: Building on our learning, we aim to develop these ideas further through a more sustained research project, involving not only consultative participation but also collaborative participation and child-led participation.

Contribution: Insight into the extent to which the Lundy model of child participation (Lundy 2007) can be used as a framework to guide researchers and practitioners in assisting primary school learners to develop their voice and exert influence in matters concerning them.


child participation; rights of the child; Lundy model; primary education; voice; space; audience; influence


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