This article considers key concerns which have occupied political scientists' analyses of 'participation'. Children have seldom featured in these analyses. 'Participation' in public policy initiatives have been used as a means of (re)building 'trust' and 'renewing democracy'. In recent years we have seen some shift towards viewing children as direct participants in public policy. There are signs that the government in the UK is including children more directly in policies designed to 'renew' democracy and 'civil society' and that such policies are not confined to proposals to lower the voting age. The article draws upon examples from education and the running of schools in particular to reflect upon the relationship between public policy, governance and children's participation.