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Mr Stephen Harrison


Profile summary

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Professional biography

My professional background is in informal and community education, working with children, young people and adults in a wide variety of settings. I have worked as a Youth Worker in Bristol, London and Hong Kong and a Play Worker in Bristol and London (working with children through Save the Children on an all day visit scheme in Holloway Prison and with children from Gypsy and Traveller backgrounds via the London Gypsy Traveller Project). I have also worked extensively within the field of Drug Education and harm minimisation.

Since 1997 I have been predominantly involved in the field of professional education, teaching and managing Undergraduate programmes leading to qualifications in Youth and Community Work across the UK and Ireland.

From 1997 to 2006 I Was a Lecturer and later Senior Lecturer in Inform al and commu nity educations at the YMCA George Williams College in London. 

I joined the Open Univeristy in 2008 as an Associate Lecturer on E118  and  then joined as a full time member of the Academic Staff in 2011.

From 2016-2019 I was Programme Lead for Childhood and Youth Studies (Undergraduate) at the Open University.

I am currently a Staff Tutor/Senior Lecturer within the School for Education Childhood, Youth and Sport. I am Lead Staff Tutor for Childhood and Youth Studies alongside Sport and Fitness

I am a member the SAGE Zimbabwe Team supporting the development of Community Education provision in Zimbabwe. 

I am the Principle Investigator for 'Research Strand 2: What works in Community Education' within the SAGE p[roject.

Research interests

My research interests centre around work with young eople, 'informal learning', 'professional formation' and 'identity and 'the social dimension of learning'.

I am involved in a range of scholarship projects examing various dimensions of teaching and learning here at the Open univeristy.

I have recently contibuted as a central team member to the NP3 research project:

I am currenly Principal Investifator within a research project exploring the networks of support for community educators within the SAGE programme.






Teaching interests


I am currently Staff Tutor Lead for the Childhood and Youth Pathway 

From 2016 - 2019 I was Programme Lead for Childhood and youth Studies (Undergraduate) which includes:

Q23 BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies 

Q55 BA (Hons) Youth Work



External collaborations

I was the lead academic consultant for the Open University on the filming of 'Old School with the Hairy Bikers'. for more information click





I am currently involved in supporting the development of Community Education Hubs supporting adolescent girls in accessing education in Zimbabwe as part of the SAGE Zimbawe project.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)CentreFaculty of Education and Language Studies


Is Distance Education Fun? The Implications of Undergraduates’ Epistemological Beliefs for improving their Engagement and Satisfaction with Online Learning (2022)
Sheehy, Kieron; Mclanachan, Abigail; Okada, Alexandra; Tatlow-Golden, Mimi and Harrison, Stephen
Athens Journal of Education, 10 ((Early Access))

Innovations in smart phone based professional development (2021)
Harrison, Stephen and Chishava, Charlotte
In : UKFIET Conference Building Back Better in Education and Training? (13/09/2021-16/09/2021, Online)

Remote professional development during Covid 19: The Case of SAGE in Zimbabwe (2021)
Harrison, Stephen
In : UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab Education & Digital Skills: Conversation event (08/12//2021, Online)

Real lives, imagined futures: stories of participation and progression through the Open University professional qualification in youth work (2012-10-31)
Golding, Tyrrell; Harrison, Roger and Harrison, Stephen
In : Developing Internships and Work Based Learning Opportunities for Mature Students: Creating Opportunities and Raising Aspirations (31 Oct 2012, Milton Keynes, UK)

NP3 – New Purposes, New Practices, New Pedagogy: Meta-analysis report (2017)
Twining, P.; Browne, N.; Murphy, P.; Hempel-Jorgensen, A.; Harrison, S. and Parmar, N.
Society for Educational Studies, London.