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You are reading: The relational navigator: a pedagogical reframing of widening educational participation for care-experienced young people

Penny Jane Burke 1, Claire Cameron 2, Emily Fuller 1, Katie Hollingworth 2

Originally published in the International Journal of Social Pedagogy
Published online 25 November 2021


Young people in state care not only lose support, usually at 18 years of age, but also experience unequal participation in post-secondary education. This has raised concern about the importance of widening participation (WP) for care-experienced young people (CEYP). However, CEYP are often institutionally stigmatised and this could be worsened by WP interventions that are framed by deficit discourses. Weaving together social pedagogies and social justice theories, the article aims to reframe WP away from deficit discourses through recognition of the systemic, structural and cultural inequalities that most CEYP must navigate to access formal education. We introduce the concept of the relational navigator, in which a pedagogical relationship enables the navigator to ‘pilot’ through complex systems and transitional processes in collaboration with, and through ‘walking alongside’, the CEYP with respect to their lived contexts and experiences. This article draws from the reflections of WP navigators situated in two small-scale WP projects, one in an English museum and the other in an Australian university. Our analysis of the reflections of the WP project navigators is offered as a preliminary exploration of the potential the relational navigator as a way to shift deficit discourses and work towards a reframing of WP through a social pedagogical perspective.

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1Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE), University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia

2Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, London WC1E 6BT, UK

Content reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0.

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