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Compounding education disengagement: COVID-19 lockdown, the digital divide and wrap-around services

Kathryn Seymour (yourtown, Brisbane, Australia and Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Jennifer Skattebol (Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney, Australia)
Ben Pook (yourtown, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 20 October 2020

Issue publication date: 15 December 2020




The purpose of this paper is to share reflections on the frontline delivery of a wrap-around secondary school re-engagement programme on compounding digital inequality during the COVID-19 lockdown.


This paper presents a deliberative reflection on practice and policy lessons learned while negotiating the digital divide during the COVID-19 lockdown in the delivery of the yourtown education youth engagement programme.


Frontline youth worker practice lessons highlight the compounding effect of digital inequality on vulnerable young people who are already disengaged or disengaging from secondary education and the necessity for a reflexive, agile and adaptable practice response, particularly during unprecedented events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


This paper presents a wraparound service perspective and outlines important practice lessons gained from adapting an education re-engagement programme to respond to the COVID-19 lockdown in the Greater Brisbane area, Australia.



The authors wish to acknowledge the staff, young people and families whose stories are represented in this paper.

Conflict of interest: Two of the authors work for yourtown, the parent company of the youth engagement programme profiled in the viewpoint paper.


Seymour, K., Skattebol, J. and Pook, B. (2020), "Compounding education disengagement: COVID-19 lockdown, the digital divide and wrap-around services", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 243-251.



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