Psycho-educational prospects for students in custody

Tim Corcoran1, Julie White2, Kitty Te Riele3, Alison Baker2, Philippa Moylan2
1School Of Education, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia, 2Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, 3University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Past research has established the critical importance of education to the lives of young people involved in justice processes. This paper overviews research recently undertaken in the Victorian youth justice system. The purpose of the project was to examine education for students in custody, both sentenced and on remand. The study worked with project partner, Parkville College, to examine how education can be improved for young people by investigating: i) what assists young people to take part in education while they are in custody, and ii) what helps young people to plan for education after release from custody? The paper starts by outlining present-day arrangements at the Parkville and Malmsbury Youth Justice Precincts and how these enable and/or constrain participation in schooling whilst in detention. This sets the context for the interviews undertaken with young people. Amongst other purposes, education should be about the pursuit of justice (i.e. fairness and equity) and if accepted as an ontological opportunity then education can invite the pursuit of a particular kind of justice – psychosocial justice. Subsequently, psycho-educational theory and practice is inextricably linked to issues of justice, both in how theory is invoked and in the ways practice is enacted. This orientation invites critical reconsideration of a range of activities in formal and informal educational settings with the young people’s interviews illustrating the complex and unfinished nature of relationality made available through education.

Tim Corcoran practiced for a decade as a Psychologist in two Queensland government departments (Education and Corrective Services) and brings a rich array of knowledge, skills and expertise to his ongoing research activities. His work has involved teaching, research and professional practice in Australia, the UK, Singapore and Iraq.  He edited Psychology in education: Critical theory~practice (2014, Sense Publishers), an international collection of contributions examining critical approaches to educational psychology.  More recently he co-edited Disability studies: Educating for inclusion (2015, Sense Publishers), Joint action: Essays in honour of John Shotter (2016, Routledge) and Critical Educational Psychology (2017, Wiley).


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