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Title: A comparative study of beekeeping as an intervention with troubled young people
Author: Tierney, Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 4188
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2012
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“Although they make up only 11 per cent of the population above the age of criminal responsibility (in England and Wales), in 2009, people in this age group were responsible for 17 per cent of all proven offending” (NAO, 2010:5). Sadly, 56 per cent of these young people are likely to re-offend within one year (NAO, 2010). These trends are not unique; they are common to many countries worldwide (e.g. De Gusti et al, 2009). Arguably then, current government strategies that aim to reduce recidivism including custodial sentences, are not working (Clarke, 2011). However, terms such as ‘criminal offence’ and the age criteria for criminal responsibility vary widely in their definitions between and within countries. Furthermore, reasons why young people re-offend emerge from complex and multi-dimensional needs and risk factors, which themselves vary over time. Attempts at correlations and comparisons are therefore inevitably contentious. Interventions perceived as most effective at reducing recidivism focus on multi-systemic approaches to changing behaviours (e.g. DfES, 2006). This research and its findings, contributes towards a better understanding of these multi-dimensional factors. This report presents outcomes from a mixed-methods, ethnographic, comparative research project in relation to a four-day intensive outdoor experiential education programme. For the purposes of this report, the programme is called ‘Bee Inspired’ and is specifically for young people defined as ‘at risk’ of offending or re-offending. Bee Inspired is unique because it involves the participants’ immersion in learning the practical skills of beekeeping. The research was based in three countries: the Azores islands (Portuguese-governed), Prince Edward Island, Canada and England, United Kingdom. During the programme, the participants were observed closely and their behaviour, experiences and comments recorded. Additional data were collected through written questionnaires and focus group sessions during and at the completion of the programme. The outcomes are presented using a method of written ‘vignettes’. This gives voices to the participants, whose perspectives, within research data, are often absent. This report provides evidence of their positive experiences of cognitive, social and emotional development during the Bee Inspired programme; these being intrinsically linked to the programme’s objectives and the researcher’s theoretical and ontological perspectives. The findings were triangulated; qualitative and quantitative data support previous educational research and produces some new insights. The research tracked the progress of the participants twelve and eighteen months after the completion of the Bee Inspired programme. Out of 45 participants, only three participants re-offended within eighteen months; well below average and expected norms as defined in similar research. In addition to the low re-offending rates, many participants continued their beekeeping practices which in itself may contribute to the perceived success of the programme. In conclusion, although small-scale and limited in terms of scope and generalizability, this research illuminates the experiences of young people ‘at risk’ involved in experiential education. The complex and multi-dimensional nature of these experiences relate to individuals’ diverse needs. Further research into experiential education programmes is therefore required, in particular, investigations into why factors specific to beekeeping could provide a way of reducing recidivism amongst some young people at risk.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L560 Probation/After Care ; beekeeping ; youth justice ; young offenders ; outdoor experiential education