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Student voice and participatory self-governance at a German democratic free school: a content analysis

Kristan Accles Morrison (Kristan Accles Morrison is based at the School of Teacher Education and Leadership, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 4 April 2024




This paper aims to illustrate, by means of a content analysis of 278 weekly School Meeting minutes, the ways in which student voice is actualized in one democratic free school in Germany.


This paper uses a qualitative content analysis methodology of 278 weekly School Meetings minutes.


This paper uses Fielding’s (2012) patterns of partnership typology to illustrate what counts as student voice and participation in a democratic free school.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations included being reliant on translations of German texts, some missing minutes from the entire set, the lack of a single author for the minutes (and thus degree of detail differs) and the fact that the School Meeting minutes make reference to other meetings for various sub-committees for which no minutes exist, and thus, findings on the degree of student voice may be limited. And because this is a study of one school, generalizability may be difficult. Future research into these sub-committee meetings would prove helpful as well as content analyses of other democratic free schools’ meeting minutes.


This study can help people more deeply understand what goes on in democratic free schools and what student voice and participation can mean within this context.



Morrison, K.A. (2024), "Student voice and participatory self-governance at a German democratic free school: a content analysis", On the Horizon, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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