Optimising Well-Being and Learning Through Participatory Processes and Practices: an International Comparative Analysis of Ten Groundwork Case-Studies in Schools


The paper presents a theory of participation in systems of learning that emerges from our evidence gathered through partnerships between schools and the academy. The theory identifies young people need to endorse common principles of participation to include and respect all. Educational leaders’ evidence informed intervention strategies can positively impact young people’s inclusive and respectful participation in the action-research. The theory of participation conceptualises young people’s need for opportunities to pursue their ambitions and interests. Leaders’ intervention strategies may develop young people’s participation in attaining target examination outcomes to achieve their ambitions. We then develop the theory of participation regarding young people pursuing independent interests and ambitions in association with the other, to enable them to be drivers of social change. To do this they need to understand their future identity as potential consumers, employees, employers, and entrepreneurs with Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) that challenge public corporations in a variety of ways. We theorise how young people are well situated to build capacity in Europe and globally using the social media networks they have already developed. Our evidence identified five participation principals of inclusion, respect, trust in the search for truth, constructive cross-cultural critique of alternative world views to arrive at a shared multicultural world view, and the generation of new knowledge to enable the re-imagining of new futures where young people are drivers of social change. From these principals we developed a theory of practice and four global standards as guidelines. First, a commitment to inclusionary partnerships and communities of practice. Second, distributed autonomy across stakeholders in the institution characterized by respect for individuals’ associated rights and responsibilities. Third, constructive cross-cultural criticism underpinned by trust in a search for truth, using different group’s constructed identity schema’s to develop a shared multicultural world view. Fourth, the generation of new knowledge through structures and mechanisms to optimize participation.

Year of Publication
Italian Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue Number
Start Page
Last Page
Date Published
ISSN Number
Serial Article Number
Special Section