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In this paper, we reflect on the tensions inhering in a multi-layered ethnographic project, with two researchers, across four school sites. This project is somewhat ambitious as we are combining critical ethnography with participatory and decolonising methods (and theories) across four sites. In so doing, we aim to explore the health-related experiences of diverse young people, at the intersection of gender sexuality, place and class, as well and ethnicity and culture. We focus here on four specific methodological tensions. We employ Michelle Fine’s notion of ‘working the hyphen’ to explore tensions of decolonising-recolonising; collaborating-co-constructing; interactive-participatory approaches; being critical-being a listener in research.