University Of Tasmania

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Valued outcomes in the counter-spaces of alternative education programs: success but on whose scale?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 01:04 authored by Plows, V, Bottrell, D, Kitty te RieleKitty te Riele
For marginalised young people, alternative education settings - referred to here as flexible learning programs (FLPs) - are thought to provide a powerful ‘counter-space’ to damaging experiences of mainstream schooling. Such programs are inherently contradictory, with potential to also reproduce stigma and disadvantage. The provision of secondary schooling via FLPs is significant. In Australia, for example, the sector serves over 70,000 students. A better understanding of student experiences and outcomes in these educational spaces is needed. Drawing on interview data with staff, students, and graduates from two FLPs in Victoria, this paper employs Soja's ideas about conceived, perceived, and lived space to explore what outcomes are valued and to consider how success is measured in these programs. The paper shows that FLP staff and students valued a diverse range of academic, social, and personal outcomes that support a more expansive vision of education and monitoring student success than dominant perspectives. The paper also suggests that these FLPs are both a counter-space and a space that connects back to the mainstream, optimally understood as third space, a hybrid place, bringing together the conventional and the alternative to create a valued and valuable education for marginalised young people.


Publication title

Geographical Research








Peter Underwood Centre


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2016 Institute of Australian Geographers

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education