Author: ‘Community Philosophy’: a Transformational Youth Work Practice? Published in the latest online issue of Sociétés et jeunesses en difficulté – a journal of multidisciplinary research. Special issue, 2010. Free download here.


Author: Learning from detached youth work: democratic education (2008), published by the Nuffield Review of 14-19 education. Free download here.


Author: Reconnecting Detached Youth Work: Guidelines and Standards for Excellence (2007)

“A trenchant and detailed defence of detached youth work”, Tom de Castella, Young People Now, 6th September 2007. Full article here.

Reconnecting Detached Youth Work is available from the Federation for Detached Youth Work, order here.


Author: Lessons from the Street : Informal Education-Based Social Ties Building and the Danger of Pre -scription

Pensée Plurielle 2007 / 2 ( No. 15 )

Publisher: De Boeck

I.S.B.N. 2804154448

DOI 10.3917/pp.015.0129


A number of folk have asked me what connects the many themes I work on, especially Detached youth work and Community Philosophy, with my core business of consulting on informal and community education.

Answering this question is not so easy, but I have found it useful to try. Well, beyond the simplistic – that they are all things that interest me (and I reckon it’s about time we all started standing up for that as a value offering a much-needed challenge to the fundamentalist mantra of ‘utility’) – it strikes me that these are all forms of what might be called ‘democratic education’. I might even be tempted to prefix that with ‘radical’ in the sense that they all aim at some kind of transformation, some kind of meaningful change. And I like notions of ‘praxis’, unapologetically invoking the need for a strong relationship between theory and practice – in fact, using  theory in and as practice. In a wider sense, I take ‘democratic’ to also exemplify a commitment to a process in which those that we work with are integral to the process of determining and designing the learning to be pursued.

Some further clarification: Detached youth work (although philosophically I am now more in tune with the French ‘éducateur de la rue’) I take to be democratic through necessity. I have said often that if you are working in a context where the Other can freely disassociate at any time – in practice, where they can simply walk away – then the way we work has to be premised on responsiveness, negotiation and a focus on what is, in their eyes, of benefit and value to them. Why else would they want to be there?

I should mention also I have a growing interest in human and social geographies. These disciplines offer important insights into how people are within public spaces, which is necessarily the workplace for a detached youth worker, and as a good a metaphor for civil society as I have come across.

Community Philosophy seeks the even more systematic use of theory in practice and often at a wider community level. It too has democratic credentials. In its use of Community of Enquiry methodologies, the questions to be asked are generated – and therefore owned – by those we work with; and resources are invested in considering how any conclusion reached can be translated into social action; that’s the transformation orientated bit again.

Graeme also works on a wide variety of community and youth work issues, often from a research perspective. See for example this Youth Service Drugs Policy and Guidance for Leicestershire County Council.