I have worked for 30 years in the field of youth and community work, which I have understood as a
field of socio-cultural and educative practice. I have contributed to the development of dialogue concerning feminist, anti-racist and other critical approaches in this field of endeavour.
I studied English at Cambridge and was a research student at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, when Professor Stuart Hall was Director. I worked as a youth and community worker for ten years before taking up a post as Lecturer in Youth and Community Work at Manchester Polytechnic in 1986. I have taught and conducted research in youth and community work since then, and was part of the team which established a Women's Studies MA at MMU,which ran successfully during the 1990's.
My research has focussed on anti-racist and feminist approaches to youth work; on the theory and practice of informal education in youth work settings; on alternative education traditions and the resources they offer to people whose lives are conducted at the margins of the mainstream. So, I have published on informal groupwork responses to young people who self-harm; on groupwork with South Asian women survivors of domestic violence; on arts-based practice with young men who are on the edge of the sex industry; as well as on lesbian, gay, queer and trans youth work. I also published a new edition of Youth Working with Girls and Young Women in Community Settings. A Feminist Perspective (Ashgate 2013) which presents a feminist-inspired community-based approach to informal education for and with girls, linked to the Feminist Webs oral history initiative. I have completed project evaluations with The Blue Room, on the place of creativity in responses to young men who sell sex, and with Groundwork UK on developing strategies to increase the diversity of groups with whom they engage, including offering resources to people with long-term mental health difficulties, lesbian and gay communities, and to small minority ethnic communities in predominantly white areas.
Currently I am leading on a significant three year ethnographic study of young peoples social and political participation across seven European cities, including Manchester: the Partispace project.
I am interested in how the education system could change in response to understanding the experiences of people who do not currently do well in it. I am also very interested in the resources offered by critical social and cultural theory and research to this project of understanding and change.
I enjoy teaching and exploring ideas and practices which enable people to be creators not consumers of learning and development and to support one another in their learning.
I offer a dialogical approach to learning but aim to resource students with the knowledge and skills needed to learn and develop independently.
BA(Hons)/MA, University of Cambridge 1977.
PGCE English and Social Education, Sheffield City Polytechnic 1984.
I have worked for MMU (previously Manchester Polytechnic) in a variety of posts in the Youth and Community work team since 1986. Before that I was employed as a play worker and a youth and community worker.
Speaking and Writing: English and French.
Reading only: German and Italian.
It is an interesting and less control-orientated field of practice than many others which also engage with learning and support. Our work in communities is about motivation and engagement, not compulsion and we always seek to challenge the stigmatising, exclusion, disadvantage and lack of opportunity inflicted on many in urban communities. We work from people’s potential and strengths not from their problems and deficits, whilst acknowledging the systemic nature and impact of inequality. We recognise people’s cultural histories as diverse and potentially empowering in our work.
I taught for many many years on the BA Youth and Community Work and really enjoyed myself doing so. Sadly I no longer do this.
I specialise now in supporting students undertaking MA Dissertations in this field.
Recently completed dissertations include:
Cabbie Mdongo A Discourse on Oppression. An Analysis of How it Challenges Successful Empowerment for Women from African Countries Living in the United Kingdom.
Romana Masarova Experiences of adult Czech and Slovak Roma community in North West England in accessing to public services: Housing and Education.
Kate Paxton Measuring the Impact of Youth Work: A Case Study.
I have supervised many MA dissertations. Current students are working on: Youth Work Methods as Support to Transgender Young People; Inclusion Strategies in work with Young People with Emotional Difficulties; Youth Work as Support to young people with fractured family lives; Informal Learning with post-Prison young people; community development strategies with young Cypriot communities.
I have supervised and examined at PhD level.
I am currently External Examiner at the Open University.
I have recently acted as External Examiner for the following research MA’s and PhD’s:
My research has focused on the development of critical perspectives in informal learning, particularly in youth work. I have a particular interest in ‘putting theory to work’ in relation to the socio-cultural educative project of community-based learning. I draw on contemporary and historic feminist and anti-racist theory. I am interested in the dialogue between UK based work and European traditions of social pedagogy and socio-cultural animation. I have always supported action research linked to local projects as a way of developing these critical interests. As well as acting as PI for Partispace, a European wide project exploring young people’s experience of participation across 7 European cities, I am currently working with colleagues in Manchester and Trafford on developing evaluation strategies (The Most Significant Change Project), on Co-operative Models of Support to youth work and on Feminist Webs, a project linking oral history, historic and contemporary feminist activism, and girls work.
J. Batsleer (2013). Youth working with girls and women in community settings: A feminist perspective.
S. Banks (2010). Ethical Issues in Youth Work. Taylor & Francis.
M. Robb, R. Thomson (2010). Critical Practice With Children and Young People.
JR. Batsleer (2008). Informal Learning in Youth Work. SAGE Publications Ltd.
AJS. Pais, J. Batsleer, B. Andersson, S. Liljeholm Hansson, J. Lütgens, et al. (2017). Non-formal spaces of socio-cultural accompaniment: Responding to young unaccompanied refugees – reflections from the Partispace project. European Educational Research Journal. 17(2), pp.305-322.
J. Batsleer (2016). Precarity, food and accompaniment in community and youth work. Ethnography and Education. 11(2), pp.189-203.
J. Batsleer (2015). Becoming girl: Collective biography and the production of girlhood. Women's Studies International Forum. 52, pp.45-46.
JR. Batsleer (2014). Against Role Models:Tracing the Histories of Manliness in Youth Work, The Cutural Capital of Respectable Masculinity. Youth and Policy: the journal of critical analysis. 113(Autumn 2014),
J. Batsleer (2013). Youth work, social education, democratic practice and the challenge of difference: A contribution to debate. Oxford Review of Education.
J. Batsleer (2012). Dangerous spaces, dangerous memories, dangerous emotions: informal education and heteronormativity – a Manchester UK Youth Work vignette. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. 33(3), pp.345-360.
J. Batsleer (2011). Voices from an edge. Unsettling the practices of youth voice and participation: arts-based practice in The Blue Room, Manchester. Pedagogy, Culture & Society. 19(3), pp.419-434.
J. Batsleer Being poor and performing poverty at Christmas: a sideways response to The House. Studies in Theatre and Performance. 37(1), pp.96-99.
JR. Batsleer Young Women, Youth Work and Spaces. Resurgent Feminist Approaches. Youth and Policy.
J. Batsleer (2005). Peace within her borders? Faith discourses in the context of inter-cultural groupwork with women survivors. Groupwork. 15(3), pp.6-22.
J. Batsleer, K. Chantler, E. Burman (2003). Responses of health and social care staff to South Asian women who attempt suicide and/or self-harm. Journal of Social Work Practice. 17(1), pp.103-114.
C. Chew-Graham, C. Bashir, K. Chantier, E. Burman, J. Batsleer (2002). South Asian women, psychological distress and self-harm: Lessons for primary care trusts. Health and Social Care in the Community. 10(5), pp.339-347.
E. Burman, K. Chantler, J. Batsleer (2002). Service responses to South Asian women who attempt suicide or self-harm: Challenges for service commissioning and delivery. Critical Social Policy. 22(4), pp.641-668.
JR. Batsleer (2015). Chapter Five. In: Socially Just, Radical Alternatives for Education and Youth Work Practice Re-Imagining Ways of Working with Young People. Palgrave Macmillan,
J. Batsleer (2015). Feminist Agendas in Informal Education. In: Socially Just, Radical Alternatives for Education and Youth Work Practice. Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp.145-168.
JR. Batsleer, J. Hughes (2013). Looking from the Other Side of the Street: Youth, Participation and the Arts in the Edgelands of Urban Manchester. In: Design in the Borderlands: Contesting Globalism. Routledge, pp.156-172.
JR. Batsleer (2013). `Informal Learning in Youth Work: Times,People and Places’. In: Youth Work: A Reader. Sage and Open University,
S. Banks (2010). Ethical Issues in Youth Work. In: Ethical Issues in Youth Work: Second Edition. Routledge, pp.178-191.
J. Batsleer (2010). Feminist webs: A case study of the personal, professional and political in youth work. In: Critical Practice with Children and Young People. pp.217-232.
JR. Batsleer, K. Ehrensperger, D. Lüküslü, B. Osmanoğlu, A. Pais, et al. Claiming Space and Struggling for Recognition Partispace Working Paper Two. , European Commission.
Convenor and Discussant (2013) BERA Symposium The educative space of the street? Learning from the educational approaches of detached youth work in a time of austerity politics. BERA Conference, Brighton·
Seminar and Workshop at NUI Maynooth (June 2013) Gender Conscious Practice based on ‘Youth Working with Girls and Young Women’ (Batsleer,2013)
Youth and Policy Seminar, Leeds (March 2010) From Feminism to Queer and Back Again: Gender Theory in Youth Work with Girls.
BERA, Manchester (September 2009) Dangerous spaces, dangerous memories, dangerous emotions: informal education and heteronormativity.
And numerous earlier papers at youth and community and women's studies conferences and seminars.
Partispace (2015) a 202,000 Euro project
An Evaluation of Cheshire Youth Service’s position in relation to the Connexions Service (2001) Cheshire County Council £6,000 with Lydia Merrill
Attempted Suicide and Self-harm among South Asian Women (2001) Manchester, Salford, Trafford Health Action Zone £20,000 with Khatidja Chantler and Erica Burman
The ‘Medicine and Chernobyl’ Project (2002) £35,000 This involved a partnership with colleagues in Minsk, Belarus in relation to the development of services to young people leaving care. Funded via Health and Social Care Partnerships for the Department for International Development.
Groundwork UK Inclusion Works Evaluation (2005-8) £15,000 A Department of Health funded project investigating the work of support groups in four Groundwork Trusts nationally (Stoke, Plymouth ,Salford and Trafford and Tameside) in relation to the needs of people with long term mental health difficulties.
Mobex Prisoner Rehabilitation Evaluation (2009) Undertaken with Alison
Ronan £15,000 An investigation of the use of informal education practice (based on the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme) in supporting prisoners on release from prison.
Feminist Webs (2009) £20,000 Exploring the recent history and current practice in feminist youth work. A successful joint bid with the Institute for Cultural Affairs to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Formative Evaluation with The Men's Room/Blue Room Manchester (2008-10) £5,000
May 2015 marked the starting of PARTISPACE - Spaces and Styles of Participation: Formal, non-formal and informal possibilities for young people’s participation in European cities—a project funded by the European Commission, within the Horizon2020 funding programme. The project brings together ten higher education institutions, from eight European and non-European countries (Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Bulgaria, Turkey and Switzerland). Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Huddersfield are the two UK institutions that participate in the project. Janet Batsleer (Principal Lecturer) and Alexandre Pais (Research Fellow) are the two researchers from MMU involved. The project will be developed within the next three years, with an approximate funding of 2,5 million euros, of which 202,812 € will be allocated to MMU.
Concerns about a lack of youth participation are apparently confirmed by evidence of low intentions of young people to participate in European elections, whilst recent protest movements - in France, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Spain, the UK, Sweden and Turkey - reflect conflicts both between young people and society. These are protests in relation to a range of different issues but they also indicate a conflict with regard to recognised forms of participation. Some conflicts relate to tensions between majorities and minorities, others to experiences of alienation in school, lack of jobs and life perspectives, between conservative, authoritarian state and modernised life styles, welfare cuts as reaction to ‘the crisis’ affecting especially young people, while in most cases several factors intersect. These protests are rarely accepted as forms of participation but more often criminalised and delegitimised as ‘riots’. At the same time, policy makers but also representatives of youth and civil society organisations tend to reserve the concept of participation for officially recognised and formalised actions and issues - even if these prove to be not relevant for young people.
Contrary to mainstream discourses according to which young people have to learn to participate, PARTISPACE starts from the assumption that (all) young people do participate, yet in different ways according to their different social positions, interests and needs, biographical experiences and the practices they have acquired. This means that public policies and pedagogical practice can learn from engaging with, listening to, and aiming at understanding young people’s practices: what are the needs, interests, preferences and issues of relevance to young people? What are the challenges emerging from their subjective and collective views? The project will thus not ask if and to what extent young people participate in society.
The central research question of PARTISPACE across eight cities - Bologna (IT), Frankfurt (DE), Gothenburg (SE), Eskisehir (TK), Manchester (UK), Plovdiv (BG), Rennes (FR) and Zurich (CH) - is HOW and WHERE young people do participate differently across social milieus and youth cultural scenes: what STYLES OF PARTICIPATION do they prefer, develop and apply and in what SPACES does participation takes place?
MMU will be leading the work package responsible for the implementation of the local case studies in the eight cities. MMU will work closely with the University of Huddersfield, by actively involving young people in the design and development of the research and of their own action research projects.
The first meeting of the project took place in May, in Frankfurt, and gathered the main actors involved in the development and implementation of the project. The following months will be crucial in setting the local conditions for the development of the action participatory research that characterises the project. The project is an opportunity for MMU to enhance its position as one of the leading UK higher institutions on youth and community research, as well as its relevance in the European scene. Moreover, due to the participatory nature of the project, PARTISPACE will offer the means for a closer relation between universities, local communities, national entities and European structures.
We very much look forward for the next three years. More information about the project can be found at http://partispace.eu/.
Voluntary Youth Manchester Most Significant Change Project
This project is developing a new approach to evaluation and accountability in small community based projects across the city of Manchester . I am the academic mderator for the process. The project is in dialogue with national UK wide developments concerning the measurement/evaluation of impact of informal education.
We are working towards a national Conference in July 2016. Recent work included support to the 'Being Watched' Conference for girls and young women, hosted at MMU in March 2015.
Recent Professional Keynotes include a contribution to the four nations youth work conference 'Where do I belong?' in Corrymeela, Northern Ireland on issues of faith and sexuality.
And a forthcoming contribution at the European History of Youth Work Conference, Ghent, July 2010: The History of Youth Work with Young Women.
Ruskin College, March 2010. The Women's Liberation Movement and Feminist Youth Work. (with Sue Robertson and Steph Green)
I have close links with many local projects but have a long association with Forty Second Street and The Men's Room Manchester.
I currently work closely with Voluntary Youth Manchester; Hideaway Youth Project: LGBTYouthNorthWest
From 2011-2014 I was Chair of TAGPALYCW (The Professional Association of Lecturers in Youth and Community Work)
I have represented TAGPALYCW in a number of sector contexts alongside other national Youth Work organisations such as NYCVS, NYA and Ambition!
I gave evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee for Education in January 2011 on the subject of the evidence-base for the effectiveness of youth work.
I am series editor, with Professor Keith Popple, of the Learning Matters series. Transforming Youth Work.