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In positioning student voice within the Irish education policy discourse it is imperative that this emergent and complex concept is explored and theorized in the context of its definition and motivation. Student voice can then be positioned and critiqued as it emerged within Irish education policy primarily following Ireland’s ratification of the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1992. Initially emerging in policy from a rights-based and democratic citizenship perspective, the student council became the principal construct for student voice in Irish post-primary schools. While central to the policy discourse, the student council construct has become tokenistic and redundant in practice. School evaluation policy, both external and internal, became a further catalyst for student voice in Ireland. Both processes further challenge and contest the motivation for student voice and point to the concept as an instrument for school improvement and performativity that lacks any centrality for a person-centered, rights-based, dialogic and consultative student voice within an inclusive classroom and school culture.
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