Freire for 21st Century, austerity driven schools: creating positive educational relations with and among students at the margins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Downloads (Pure)


    Despite the rhetoric of successive governments in England to engage all students with their learning there has been a substantial increase in suspensions and permanent exclusions from secondary schools in the last 20 years. This removal of students from school is particularly high amongst underperforming students, most of whom come from low income families (DfE, 2015; Education datalab, 2015; DfE 2018). These concerns, amplified by wellbeing and mental health issues related to covid-19 lockdown (NYA 2020), accelerated recent government calls for new and innovative approaches to re-engage students with education (YEF 2020). Particular emphasis is placed on mentoring and tutoring projects (NTP 2020; DfE 2022).

    This article discusses a relational pedagogy employed in the initial stages of a mentoring project called Beyond the School Gates that emerged from a research study carried out through University of Portsmouth, England in 2018 and was established as a charity in 2020. Specifically, the mentoring processes employed are analysed that draw on Freire’s (1972) decoding model to create relational spaces within excluded students’ homes in order to facilitate critical dialogue between mentors, students and their parents. Mentors facilitate relational encounters (Buber 1970) that involve mutual dialogue and a series of relationship building activities so that students are able to voice their social realities and educational experiences.

    Students frame depict their circumstances in image metaphors or art forms, some of which are illustrated. These frame conversations about their educational and social developmental interests, needs and goals. Mentors then facilitate activities that help the students develop the confidence and skills to access resources to meet these needs and realise their goals. This extends to facilitating conversations between students, parents and teachers in order to address social and curricular barriers in school.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Social Pedagogy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023


    • Education
    • Exclusion
    • Mentoring
    • Encounters
    • Images

    Cite this