Introduction Dealing with youth crime and antisocial behaviour remains the subject of considerable concern in the UK and beyond. Furthermore, the degree of social construction, moral panic, stigmatisation and 'knee-jerk' retribution that surrounds the political and media representations of these issues has been fostered in the context of a globalised society. This, in turn, has accelerated the need for 'modernised' and productive practice delivered by informed, skilled and educated youth justice practitioners. There is thus a pressing need to provide an effective framework for the teaching of these 'informed practitioners', yet the urgency implied by such a rapidly changing environment may itself be counterproductive. This is because the development of higher order skills and the engagement in deep or even profound learning (Hay, 2007) takes time, both from the point of view of teaching and just as importantly, from the perspective of learning. The cluster of thinking skills such as evaluation, analysis, and understanding go well beyond the acquisition of simple knowledge.