Building a spider's web: an exploration of practices for rights-based education through promoting voice in the early years

Carol Robinson, Kate Wall, Jane Murray, Erica Evans, Deirdre Grogan, Charlotte Bowes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter aims to expand our notion of rights-based education through a focus on voice practices in the early years with children from birth to five years. While there are many early years settings with well-developed voice practice showing strong alignment with rights-based education and early years pedagogy, it is also acknowledged that across those same contexts, there is diversity of practice and no end point will ever be reached where voice could be considered 'done' or 'complete'. Rather, we see a multicoloured, complex and nuanced set of practices continually evolving and emerging, and never fully resolved. This arguably contrasts with an assumption that to engage 'with' children is sufficient or simple. Within this chapter we therefore intend to unpick this category of voice practices with children, putting a metaphorical magnifying glass over it to explore the state of constant, open-ended development and the resulting implications for how rights-based education and voice is practiced, conceptualised and communicated in the early years. In doing so, we move away from a binary of on and with (Mayall, 2005) and draw on the notion of building a spider's web to highlight the key components of voice practices with children and to illustrate the interconnections between these. The spider's web analogy also allows us to emphasise the evolving and transitional nature of voice practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVoice and Agency
Subtitle of host publicationResearching with Young Children
EditorsMhairi Beaton
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon.
Number of pages22
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Jan 2023


  • rights education
  • rights-based
  • voice
  • early years education


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