Inclusion through exclusive provision? Flexible learning programs, raising educational participation and social justice

Youth Research Centre Seminar Series 2016

Professor Kitty te Riele, Victoria University

Facilitated by Dr Helen Stokes, Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Flexible learning programs provide educational opportunities, qualifications and pathways for young people for whom, for varied and complex reasons, traditional schooling models have not worked well. They are, in effect, programs on the margins of the education system for young people on the margins of society. Can such ‘exclusive’ provision of schooling enhance inclusion for disenfranchised young people?

This presentation will draw on Nancy Fraser’s framework of social justice to address this question. Fraser argues that distribution, recognition and representation are interrelated components of justice, and that all three are necessary to achieve parity of participation for all people in society. Based on data from several projects with colleagues, I first outline the ways in which previous conventional school experiences were, all too often, perceived as unjust. Next, I apply Fraser’s framework to practices in flexible learning programs in our research, to understand if and how they are socially just. I will conclude with some comments on broader implications for inclusive educational provision for young Australians.


Professor Kitty te Riele

Kitty te Riele is Professorial Research Fellows in the Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning, at Victoria University (Melbourne). She researches educational policy and practice through a social justice lens, with a focus on ‘second chance’ education initiatives aimed at enabling marginalized young people to complete secondary education: i.e. flexible learning programs. Products from a national project are publicly available. Her recent books include Ethics and Education Research (2014, BERA/SAGE Research Methods Book Series) and Interrogating conceptions of “vulnerable youth” in theory, policy and practice (2015, Sense Publishers).