This paper focusses on peer education and specifically on young women peer educators working within the charity Home-Start in the north of England. This work is undertaken in a social context where educational achievement is increasingly measured by certification and occupational hierarchies have been ‘professionalised’ whilst notions of professionalism have been drained of meaning in ways which can be potentially democratising. State educational imperatives in the UK have focussed on concepts such as academic excellence and the promotion of vocational opportunities (for those from ‘hard working families’). Within this paper the peer educator is positioned as generally similar to the individuals and groups with which they work in that they are likely to share characteristics including age, gender, ethnicity, social class, and educational attainment. The peer educators who participated in the study support each other in circumstances that lead to mutual benefits which are largely outside the educational mainstream. The paper considers motivations for involvement as a peer educator, peer educators’ perspectives on the benefits/value of this work, the impact on confidence and aspiration, as well as their experiences of engagement and encounters with professionals. The paper, which focusses on empowerment, is informed by thinking on the importance of recognition and suggests that peer education holds potential for propagating forms of pedagogy which are relatively free of the authoritative relationships typically associated with ‘teaching’.
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- Huddersfield Centre for Research in Education and Society (HudCRES) - Member
- School of Education and Professional Development - Emeritus Professor