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About Alan Smith

Alan Smith is an award winning academic who was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2015. He is Course Director for an expanding area of provision which includes undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications in youth and community work, as well as a BA (Hons) in Working with Children, Young People and Families.

Alan leads one of the largest youth and community work programmes in the UK. He is Vice Chair of the National Youth Agency Education and Training Standards Committee for Engalnd, and is Co-Chair of the Joint Education and Training Standards Committee for England, Scotland, Wales and All-Ireland. He has been involved in the professional education of youth and community workers for more than 24 years, and has been at the forefront of policy and practice developments for most of that time, helping guide the profession to its current graduate status, and working with others to champion youth and community work as a discipline which changes lives and creates fairer communities.

He has held key roles within the Community and Youth Work Training Agencies Group (TAG) – the professional association for lecturers in youth and community work, and serves as Vice Chair of the Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body which oversees the validation and approval of all professional youth and community work education in England.

Within Leeds Beckett University, Alan has been nominated for his inspirational teaching and personal tutoring and the Youth and Community Work team have twice won Course Team of the Year in the Student Union’s Golden Robe Awards, in 2014 and 2018, and were runners up in 2015.

Alan was awarded his National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy for the transformational nature of his teaching and the impact it has had on countless students, and those they go on to work with - his particular interest is on supporting non-traditional learners to acheive their full potential.

Current Teaching

As Course Director for the BA (Hons) Working with Children, Young People and Families; BA (Hons) Youth Work and Community Development and MA Youth Work and Community Development, Alan teaches across all courses and levels. In particular:

  • Politics of Everyday Life (Level 4)
  • Social Justice and Inequality (Level 4)
  • Historical Perspectives on Youth and Community Work (Level 5)
  • Dissertations (Level 6)
  • Critical Perspectives on Youth and Community Work (Level 7)

Research Interests

Alan has a particular interest in how youth workers conceptualise the idea of youth work, and of youth work as a profession, with a focus on how they develop their professional identity. He has previously written about youth work practice in relation to a number of policy-driven agendas: Connexions, Transforming Youth Work, and Youth Justice / Youth Rights. He has also written about informal education approaches and the relationship with trade union activism.

Alan is working closely with a number of unions, through the General Federation of Trade Unions, to develop and enhance their training offer. He has helped design and deliver a Trade Union specific Training the Trainer programme, which is being used as the benchmark for trade Union Education nationally.

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