Alternative spaces of failure. Disabled ‘bad boys’ in alternative further education provision
1. Why were you drawn to this area of research ?
I have worked with young people on the margins of society for 25 years and in and out of alternative provisions for many years. I am keen on promoting and advocating for all young people. The rising number of exclusions for young people with disabilities but the lack of research in this area drew me to this work in order to raise awareness of young peoples lives.
2. Did anything about the findings surprise you or were unexpected?
There was 30 young people involved in this participatory research; albeit to different degrees. The group I was drawn to were the self proclaimed bad boys. They were the least engaged with the provision and the college environment. I spent a great deal of time fi doing out why. The theme of stigma was the most surprising and how difficult and precarious their lives were. Disability, social class and masculinity all fed in to a complex narrative. I was also surprised how separate youth studies is from disability studies. As if, disability or SEN takes over their identity in education. It was as if you cant he a young man and disabled in the eyes of teachers and the other students. None of the young men in this study identified as disabled. Hence the article. Although I am writing an article which reflects the girls perspective. Overall, I do worry that exclusion and full time AP risks becoming a normalised experience for some young people.
3. What implications do you feel your research can have on organisations who work with yp with similar profiles?
I think organisations need to think carefully about exclusion but the implications for the student can be dire for their future. I don't disagree with APs but they should work in tandem with schools and a range of other options. For example, Scotland has a much more proactive (public health) approach to inclusion and their exclusion rates are negligible. Colleges have much potential to include all students but every child has a right to be included, especially at a critical time in their educational career. Policy must reflect and prioritize young disabled people in their funding as they are almost always worst off in the education system.
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To contact Dr Johnson please email at Craig.email@example.com