FOCUS GROUP: Hard-to-reach learners and youth

Who are ´Hard-to-reach learners´ (HTR)? A simple working definition may be: Educationally and/or socially and/or economically disadvantaged people who are often forgotten by the mainstream of citizenship education or left behind in schools or other educational facilities. Some community groups may move in and out of a state of being hard-to-reach as their social circumstances change. The Hard-to-reach Focus Group explored the concept of being hard-to-reach in the context of citizenship education.

The discussion raised the question of: why are certain groups HTR? And what is citizenship education inviting them to participate in? Structural inequalities may exclude certain groups. Therefore we question whether citizenship education seeks only to ”put a plaster over the wounds of an unjust system” or should rather contribute to highlight the paradoxes and to address the inequalities.

The group has worked across four strands:

Research - Members of this subgroup identified a diverse range of current research which may form the basis of a publication to be developed over the next year. This publication may span exploration of fundamental concepts and relevant theories as well as showcasing practical case studies and including the perspectives and narratives of hard-to-reach communities. 

Practical methodologies and approaches - This strand seeks to create a way of sharing practical resources, training and learning activities and methodologies which are of interest to practitioners who work with Hard-to-reach learners. This will develop into an online toolkit which will encourage contributions from an increasing group of users.

Ways to overcome barriers to learning - This stand is developing ways of working which start with bringing groups together to listen to their views and experiences and develop advocacy. One methodology uses games to encourage confidence to speak out.  

Online platform - HTR Group has identified a need for a new online platform to share good practice across Europe. As a response to this, The School Development Support Agency (SDSA, Leicester. UK) is launching The Network for European Education and Diversity (NEED). This will provide a free space for anyone working in this field to enter basic information about their work, publications, resources, training events, research topics, expertise and anything else that may be of interest to share with other practitioners. This will serve as a directory to provide ideas, new contacts and encourage further collaboration. It will also provide a way of requesting support and expertise from others. We request that all who read this consider entering their contact details by following this link: - and help to build this network by distributing this link as widely as possible. 

This focus group was started in 2013 with a first meeting in Berlin. A second meeting took place in Leicester, hosted by the School Development Support Agency (SDSA), based in this city.  This short report sums up our third meeting here in Vienna from October 15 to October 16. More information on our work: NECE Focus Group Hard-to-reach learners and youth 

Do not forget: Have a look at our poster session during the conference. 

More information and contact:



Disadvantaged Groups
Conference Day: 

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