The Flourishing From the Margins project is designed to deepen understanding of why some young people appear marginalised from mainstream education, or have become ‘NEET’ altogether, and how paying attention to character may help to address some of the underlying causes of that marginalisation.
This work will contribute to understandings of character amongst marginalised young people and how interventions may support the character development of the difficulties that some marginalised young people face with regards to developing a sense of purpose and living a 'good life'.
Read our Virtue Insight blog post on the 'Polarised debate that pits moral responsibility against social conditions is creating a “damaging impasse”
The research has used a mixed methods approach, undertaken across 3 Stages:
- Stage 1: A questionnaire completed by young people from both mainstream and non-mainstream settings (n=2,910) to understand young people's perceptions of who and what influence their idea of living a 'good life' and whether they have a sense of life purpose;
- Stage 2: The development and trial of a structured character education intervention with pre- and post- testing to assess impact (n= 108);
- Stage 3: A qualitative study of 8 young people and 6 tutors, interviewed on film and asked to describe how they have come to be where they are and how they envisage their futures.
Literature Review & Findings
Hundreds of thousands of young people in the UK become marginalised from education and employment, with costs to the individual and to wider society.
Marginalisation can be seen on a continuum from the extremes of people who are involved in illegal, hidden and antisocial behaviour, through those who have seemingly ‘lost their way’, to those who are deemed to be at risk of marginalisation but remain in mainstream settings.
The context of society has changed; there are more choices, the transition from child to adult is more fractured and complex. It seems those who have support – from schools, family, community – and have a sense of purpose may find this easier to manage, but those without these things can be left behind and marginalised.
Healthy and nurturing relationships with adults – teachers, family, mentors – seem to be a central part of young people’s engagement with society.
Stage 1 of the project surveyed 2,910 young people from mainstream and non-mainstream educational settings, and asked participants to reflect on the factors influencing their sense of what it means to live a 'good life', and whether they feel as though they have a positive sense of life purpose.
Stage 2 of the project undertook a trial of a character-based intervention with 108 young people engaged in non-mainstream education programmes, across the UK. Read more about the development of character education resources for marginalised young people in this blog post.
The intervention seeks to expose participants to a language of character that will help them realise their goals and develop a sense of moral purpose. They will have a clearer path and know what steps to take to move forward successfully.
Stage 3 of the project interviewed 8 young people who had participated in Stage 2, and encouraged them to tell their 'story' of how they had become marginalised from mainstream education, and whether they felt that they had developed a sense of purpose through engaging in non-mainstream education provision, or through education at all. The Stage also captured the voices of 6 tutors in non-mainstream education, and participants were encouraged to reflect on their roles as character educators.
Stage 1 - A survey of young people in different contexts
Thousands of young people aged 11-19 years from both mainstream and non-mainstream education were invited to complete a survey exploring what they thought it meant to ‘flourish’, to reach their full potential, and to live a 'good life'.
The survey consisted of four sections:
- the first section asked the young people for some demographic information;
- the second section asked questions about what kind of person participants see themselves as being;
- the third section explored what it meant to the young people to flourish or to live a ‘good life' and who influenced this; e.g. parents, schools, their peers, media;
- the fourth section asked about their moral identity, sense of purpose, and how important various virtues and character traits were to them.
The survey was completed by 2,910 young people aged 11-19 years engaging in both mainstream and non-mainstream educational provision, across the UK.
Stage 2 - Resources and Intervention
Nine different UK youth organisations have worked with the Centre, building upon the Jubilee Centre's Programme of Study to develop a ‘bank’ of character based resources suitable for use in a variety of contexts, roughly grouped into three broad areas:
- Formal Education / PRU Delivering formal yet adapted education to those not in mainstream education
- Individualised Tailored, intensive one-to-one or very small group working. Often working with those who are not in education and who may be involved in the criminal justice system.
- Extra-Curricula Interventions delivered as add-ons to the main education young people receive. This could include one-off sessions or sessions delivered in school, or involve sport being used as a delivery context.
The resources were piloted with young people, before being professionally designed and trialled.
The resources were trialled, with partner organisation using them as part of their provision. More than 200 young people experienced teaching of the resources, with 108 young people completing both pre- and post-intervention surveys. Lesson observations and small focus groups were used to support the evaluation of the trial, and interviews with tutors were carried out to support this.
The resources will be made available to access via the Jubilee Centre website.
Stage 3 - Educational Narratives
A qualitative study interviewed 8 young people and 6 tutors who were asked to describe how they have come to be where they are and how they envisage their futures. Tutors were asked to consider their roles as character educators of marginalised young people.