"Making it Remarkable": Teaching Professional Youth Work Values in a UK Higher Education Institution

Martin E Purcell (Lead / Corresponding author), Di Cantali, Tracey Colville

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This paper reports on the findings of a study exploring the role of values in professional qualifying courses taught at a Scottish University. The study aimed to enhance understanding of the way in which these courses draw on values-based pedagogy to incorporate professional values laid out in formal standards by external professional bodies. The paper reports on the findings relating specifically to values teaching on a professionally qualifying youth work programme, drawing on contributions uploaded to an online survey by students and lecturers engaged with the programme. It explores the themes to emerge from the survey data, including the centrality of values in practice and teaching; how these align with students’ personal values and are shaped by wider societal influences; lecturers’ pedagogical approaches; and the importance of supervised placements and dialogue between students, their supervisors, and lecturers in building their understanding and helping them to navigate the complexities of enacting values-based practice. The study concludes that youth worker education programmes, in which professional values are thoroughly embedded, offer the potential to deliver a transformative educative experience to students, and to potentially disrupt the reductionist values systems that have permeated the neo-liberal university.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Youth Studies
Early online date27 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2024


  • Placements
  • Professional values
  • UK higher education
  • Youth work
  • Youth worker education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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