Youth work process, product and practice
Creating an authentic curriculum in work with young people
By Jon Ord

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At a time of heightened interest and concern over young people in our communities, how various agencies and professions work with them, is under scrutiny and attack. Ord suggests that: 'Youth work cannot defend itself against erroneous and rival conceptions of practice unless it can sufficiently articulate its own. Through providing a framework for the creation of authentic curricula for youth work…this book offers one of the means by which individual workers, services and the profession as a whole can promote its unique educational practice.' He continues:

'This is not a pessimistic book… It is critical and points out weaknesses… but its primary purpose is to offer solutions.'

As Bernard Davies points out, this does not make it 'a hints-and-tips manual: far from it, [as] its prescriptions are contextualised in a wider discourse on, in particular, educational theory and practice… Jon Ord, head-on, systematically confronts the historic and current controversies, not least by engaging critically with some of youth work's academic and policy-making big hitters.'

Ord marshals evidence from youth work and draws on a wide, authoritative literature from philosophy, educational psychology, sociology, management and politics. Crucially, he presents and reviews material from recent local authority curriculum documents, in a way that has not been done before.

Large format paperback. 144 pages. 978-1-905541-11-9. Published 2007. £16.95.


Foreword by Bernard Davies
The emergence of the youth work curriculum
The meaning of curriculum in youth work
Objections to curriculum in youth work
Curriculum as content
Curriculum as product
Curriculum as process
Curriculum as process in youth work practice
Essential elements: participation and power
Essential elements: relationships and group work
Essential elements: choice
On methods
On experiential learning
Curriculum and transforming youth work
On targets
On outcomes
On progression and time
Curriculum and recent youth policy
Use of curriculum
Curriculum and culture


Jon Ord
is currently a senior lecturer in youth and community work, at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth. He has extensive experience of youth work having worked in a variety of settings, in both voluntary and statutory services since the mid 80's. The majority of this experience has been in face-to-face work, but he has also worked as both a trainer and youth services manager.


"Steering a ship between Jeffs and Smith's apparent refusal to accept a youth work curriculum and Merton and Wylie's attempts to forge a modern product based curriculum, Ord creates a compelling argument for process based development, answering the need to communicate practice without reducing youth work to a box ticking exercise or removing young people's ability to shape the work... This analysis provides an invaluable record of how youth work has responded and evolved in response to constant pressure to prove its worth, and gives a useful insight to anyone involved in curriculum development. Significantly, Ord recommends that this involvement should go beyond the 'inner circle' of curriculum development and involve all staff and service users to ensure that what is created is more than just 'a document which sits on the shelf until "the inspector calls" '" Youth and Policy.

"A useful explication of the background issues and theories of and approaches to youth work. Jon Ord brings contemporary youth work practice - and, importantly, theory - clearly into focus... Ord argues convincingly that the very foundations of youth work practice are firmly grounded in the educational process of learning and that youth work curricula are unique and specific to sound youth work practice... an authentic voice in the youth field."Youth Studies Australia.

"Targets and outcomes…finally a book that begins to redress the balance. Jon Ord's book could be renamed 'In Praise of process'. The best chapters are in the third section with some great overviews of the essential elements for good youth work (Christian or otherwise), participation and power, relationships and group work, choice and voluntary participation, methods and experimental learning. So much is missed if we do youth work for outcomes sake alone. Jon Ord reminds me that at the heart of all we might seek to do for young people or to young people - it is the journey with young people that is most enriching." Youthwork.