Document Type

Journal Article


Taylor & Francis


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science




This article was originally published as: Pooley, J. , Breen, L. J., Pike, L. , Cohen, L. , & Drew, N. (2007). Critiquing the school community: a qualitative study of children's conceptualization of their school. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(2), 87-98. This is an electronic version of an article published in International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(2), 87-98. The article in International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education is available online here.


Schools are traditionally seen as responsible for the educational outcomes of our children. However, schools also play an important role in the development of aspects such as selfefficacy, participation, competence and self-determination. As schools are often run as societies rather than communities, they offer little opportunity for these attributes (selfefficacy, participation, competence and self-determination) to develop. Forty-six children aged from nine to 12 years were interviewed to ascertain their conceptualizations of the school community. The children define their school in terms of people, places for activities and interaction, a place for safety, cooperation, influence and functionality. The responses closely align to the adult conceptualizations of sense of community as purported by McMillan and Chavis (1986). Implications of this research suggest that children can and should have an integral role in designing a curriculum and systems relevant to the school context if we are at all concerned with their psychological wellness.



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