Engendering a common good children s perspectives on the big society
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Engendering a Common Good: Children’s Perspectives on the Big Society. Sam Frankel and Kate Bacon [email protected] [email protected] Introduction. Starting points: Our interest in exploring children’s agency Children’s perspectives on the ‘good society’

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Starting points:

Our interest in exploring children’s agency

Children’s perspectives on the ‘good society’

Backdrop of Big Society Agenda: NCS National Citizen Service

  • Representations of Children in NCS

  • Who is the Big Society for?

  • Is it inclusive of/ reflective of children’s perspectives

Big society
Big Society




Personal responsibility



Do-er and go-getter

Children in the big society
Children in the Big Society

  • Children as agents?

  • Children surrounded by assumptions?

    • Lack competence to engage

  • A big society for ‘big’ people?

  • National citizen service
    National Citizen Service

    • a more cohesive society

    • a more responsible society

    • a more engaged society

    Analysis so far
    Analysis – so far

    A rite of passage:

    ‘we have worked hard to build a really special and rich rite of passage experience for young people on the cusp of adulthood’.

    Analysis so far1
    Analysis – so far

    •Phase 1: An introductory phase in which expectations will be set and relationships built between participants and staff.

    •Phase 2: A set of tasks, completed in a residential setting away from home, which are personally challenging (typically in the form of an outdoor challenge experience), and focused on personal and social development (one week).

    •Phase 3: A set of structured tasks involving visiting and helping the local community and developing skills, again the aim is that this would be completed in a residential setting away from home (one week).

    •Phase 4: Participants to design a social action task in consultation with the local community (one week).

    •Phase 5 onwards: A period of 30 hours of social action on a part-time basis

    Rite of passage 16 year olds
    Rite of Passage – 16 year olds

    ‘…the long-term aim is for NCS to become a rite of passage for all 16-year-olds.’

     ’… We want to create a new rite of passage, National Citizen Service, which will bring 16-year-olds together from all different backgrounds to give them the skills and confidence to make a difference in their communities.

    ‘… move towards the Government’s ultimate goal to make this a rite of passage and give every 16-year-old the chance to get involved’.

     The Government’s ambition is to make NCS available to all 16-year-olds so that it becomes a rite of passage …’

     Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:“I want National Citizen Service to become a rite of passage into society and an experience that young people share regardless of their background or where they live in England.

    Rite of passage why 16 finishing school
    Rite of Passage – why 16?- Finishing School

    A ‘key point of transition’

    • NCS is ‘designed to be open to all young people in the academic year that they turn sixteen’.

    • ‘The pilots are expected to provide about 10,000 places for school-leavers …’

    • ‘Aimed at school leavers aged 16, the pilots will …’

    • ‘Starting in July, after exams have finished…’

    • ‘Following the end of the exam period …’

    Rite of passage work
    Rite of Passage – Work

    • NCS ‘has the power to create a generation of ‘work ready,’ well rounded young people with raised aspirations and greater opportunities in their future’.

    • ‘We hope this will create positive influences and greater chances for networking and social mobility when participants are at a transition point in their lives and considering career paths and future directions’

    • ‘we hope business will work with us on incentives and reward schemes for successful NCS graduates …NCS graduation should eventually be a passport to the next stage of a young person's life. An essential mark on anyone's CV - that employers look for’.

    Rite of passage transition futurity
    Rite of Passage – Transition + Futurity

    ‘National Citizen Service is designed to promote: ... a more responsible society by supporting the transition into adulthood for young people’.

    Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said, after NCS, ‘The next generation will be ready to use the massive devolution of power to communities that underpins the Big Society’ .

    They will gain valuable life experience and new skills, make friends from all walks of life and prepare themselves for their futures – while playing a part in making their communities better

    Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said: “Young people are our future, and we need to harness their energy, enthusiasm and motivation at an early age so that we can motivate them to make a difference for themselves and to the lives of those around them in their communities.”

    Above all it’s going to inspire a generation of young people to appreciate what they can achieve and how they can be part of the Big Society

    NCS will act as a gateway to the Big Society for many young people, by supporting them to develop the skills and attitudes they need to get more engaged with their communities and become active and responsible citizens

    Rite of passage becoming
    Rite of Passage – becoming:

    • YP

      • Develop

      • Learn

    • NCS

      • Teaches

      • Helps/ Gives

      • Prepares

      • Supports

    • Outcome = NCS graduate

    Ncs societal impact
    NCS – Societal Impact

    • Individuals can change society

    • YP are the future of the Big Society/ good society

    • Adulthood (despite it being a difficult transition) is about being a responsible, autonomous, effective, active and engaged citizen.


    • Children’s Voices

    • Children as Competent

      • Children ‘occupy a moral space where adults do not always respect their moral agency but nevertheless expect them to take on responsibility’ (Mayall, 2002: 87)

      • What do children lack?


    • NCS reveals pictures of childhood, adulthood and good citizenship

    • Discourse of lack

    • Centered around the Big Society agenda and values