RENYO Trasnational Project Meeting

Last week, Dr Adeela-Shafi, Tristan Middleton and Chris Jones attended the third Transnational Meeting of the RENYO project in Germany, hosted by colleagues at Fachhochschule Dresden (FHD). These meetings provide a great opportunity for partners to discuss the project in greater depth, allowing any potential issues to be resolved through group dialogue and the setting of targets as they progress into the next phase. All partners will be working with secure settings in the next couple of months, with the educators employed in these settings conducting their own Authentic Inquiries in preparation for the delivery of this approach to learning being implemented by the educators with the young people they work with. Proving an opportunity for the educators to conduct their own Inquiries will not only support the develop of their own understanding of Authentic Inquiry but can also increase the levels of enthusiasm they have for the approach.

Whilst in Dresden, FHD provided all partners to visit a Free Form Juvenile Prison, which uses the approach of ‘trust instead of fences’. The young people (up to 27 years of age and male) must apply to the programme and will stay there for up to two years. They live in an open environment, in groups of seven, with a family who are employed to support them. They young people are provided with an education, working opportunities and are integrated into the local community. The reward system put in place allows them to take responsibility for themselves, considering the past, present and future. It was interesting to see how this innovative setting differs to those we are used to visiting in the UK.

Following the project meeting, FHD ran their project Multiplier Event, which took the form of a conference called ‘Alternative Perspectives on the Education of Young People in Prison’. The conference, attended by over 100 stakeholders from numerous European countries, explored the use of “Authentic Inquiry” as a process of engagement in secure settings and challenging life situations. Presenters included Geert Mackenroth (former Minister of Justice in Saxony), Stefaan Pleysier (Director of the Leuven Institute for Criminology) and our very own Dr. Adeela Shafi whose presentation was entitled ‘Starting Where You Are: Authentic Inquiry in British Youth Justice’. Following these talks, attendees where invited to split into groups to attend workshops that focused on the utilisation of Authentic Inquiry in relation to a variety of youth justice topics. Dr Shafi and Tristan Middleton, led one such workshop, which was well attended and led participants through the process of Authentic Inquiry.

Looking forward, our staff are preparing for a seminar next month that will introduce and encourage discussion about both our projects (RENYO and AG4C) and the theoretical underpinnings used. Anyone with an interest in Youth Justice is welcome to attend (booking here).

RENYO project partners will next meet in Spain in September, which will launch us into the final phase of the project that includes the training of the young people in secure settings, refining the resources for staff working within these settings and writing our research paper.