It’s a dangerous world out there : The problems and limits of ‘risk’ in compulsory education policy and practice with young people
School of Arts and Humanities
Risk is a pervasive and powerful idea in many social policy contexts, including policies concerning compulsory education. Risk can be understood as a rationality that is based on a range of assumptions about problems and what should be done to intervene in them. This paper examines and problematises the adoption of the concept of risk in the move to change the compulsory school leaving age policy in Western Australia. Drawing on interview data and policy documents, the paper traces the development and effects of a risk epistemology on certain groups of young people who were assessed as not meeting the requirements of the policy. The paper argues that this risk epistemology is reductionist and conceptually confused, structuring practice responses in ways that invariably blame young people for the problem the policy was trying to solve.