Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
Janet Batsleer, Tony Gallagher, Dr Howard and Dr
9 March 2011
Q169 Chair: Good morning. Thank
you very much to the four of you for joining us today to help
us in our inquiry into services for young people. You're bringing
academic research and understandinga bright light to shine
on this areaand we're very grateful for that. If we could
have succinct answers, that would help us to make progress. More
to the point, in this Committee it is not predominantly the witnesses
who slow things down but the long questions, so I ask my colleagues
to keep their questions short as well.
I shall open the session by asking whether you
have a sense of what has happened to youth services over time.
I know that covers so many things, from amateur sports clubs to
organised music activities, volunteering and organised activities
in museums. From your work, do you have any sense of whether qualitatively
or quantitativelywe're looking at young people aged 13
to 25 in our inquiryyouth services are better or worse
than they were, say, 20 years ago?
Tony Gallagher: It's important
to remind ourselves of the landscape in youth work. In Ofsted's
experience in looking at provision over the years, what you see
is young people at points of crisis receiving intense help. You
see young people who may be joining youth work activities for
five, six or seven weeks and who gain new skills. They move on
to youth councils, youth forums and so on. You see those who dip
in and out, enjoy themselves, meet friends and spend time with
adults, and you see also those who stick with it for years and
years. They grow as young volunteers; they take on new responsibilities.
So the point it's important to make is that the broad picture
and the broad landscape of youth work need to be represented in
that broad fashion.
Q170 Chair: Do you have a sense,
however you want to delineate itthere are different areasof
change over time? Are things better or worse?
Dr Williamson: There has been
a significant diversification of services. Twenty or perhaps 30
years ago, you obviously had post-Albemarle youth centres, but
I guess in the last 20 years we've seen a massive increase in
focus on social inclusion, disadvantage, drugs, teenage pregnancy,
youth participation and citizenshipa whole range of new
initiatives, broadening theoretical access for a broader group
of young people to such services, beyond the scouts, the guides,
the boys brigade and some of the traditional local authority youth
clubs. I'll explain what the big issue is for me. Are things better
or worse? I'm not a fan of targeting in and of itself, but I do
think that if you're not careful and if you leave everything to
voluntary engagement, you will increase opportunities for already
Janet Batsleer: One of things
that happened in the last period was a very strong focus on targeting.
Clearly, the voluntary organisations have remained and grown in
strength. The faith-based organisations have moved into a strong
position in the sector. The work that is at risk, as a result
of the period in which targeting has been the methodology, is
the open access, genericwhat we call universal accessprovision,
which is not so necessary for those parts of society accessing
the faith organisations, the scouts and the guides, but if we
are imagining that this is part of a vision of one society, then
it is those young people in the disadvantaged communities who
need that open access, generic provision. There is quite a deal
of evidence of that being lost over recent years. So depending
on how you assess good and bad, I would say let's bend the stick
back now towards that more open access, club-based approachtowards
the idea of a club really, of being a member, of belonging. These
seem to be incredibly important, non-stigmatising things for all
Dr Wood: I share many of those
sentiments, but I would also add to it. Your question was about
to what extent services have improved.
Q171 Chair: Or deteriorated.
Dr Wood: Yes, we see the quality
and standards of youth work rising, in terms of the quality of
graduates going into the field and so on. Even where there is
this emphasis on targeted work, youth workers are making valuable
contributions in these areas. I don't want to diminish that, I
want to recognise that there is a youth work contribution in reducing
negative outcomes for young people, which is not necessarily a
different point from the one Janet was making, but adds to it.
Q172 Chair: My point was about
change over time. Where are we now? Because it is so hard so far.
Have we got a system that is stronger? Okay, there has been a
great focus on targeting, to the loss of the universal, which
might mean even in its own terms that it is reaching the disadvantagedit
might be suggested that it is a less effective system. There is
always this balance between universal and targeting. Over time,
with our youth services collectivelythe opportunities for
young people outside school, which is what we are looking atare
they better than they were 10 or 20 years ago, or are they worse?
Or is that an impossible question to answer?
Tony Gallagher: It's a good question.
Chair: I'm looking for an answer of better
Tony Gallagher: I don't think,
Chair, you are going to get a straight answer. I think it is different.
Looking back, our inspections ended in 2008.
Between 2006 and 2008, we saw an improvement in the quality of
local authority youth servicesthey were getting better.
The caveat is that between 2008 and now, life has become so different.
Youth services as such do not exist always in the same way. There
has been integration in the past couple of years, and commissioning
is now taking place. So it is quite important to understand where
we are now.
Yes, we saw improvements over a number of yearsI
can give you more detail, if you wish, up until 2008 when our
inspection regime finished. We carry on looking at themes, through
our survey programme in youth work in local authorities and the
voluntary sector, but I think the debate is about this new situation
we now find ourselves in.
Q173 Chair: Which is what we are
going to move on to. I tried to see if I could get a quick snapshot
view as to whether there were some halcyon days, 30 years ago,
when everyone was engaged and looked after, with today being awful,
or something like thatI just wanted some sense of movement
Dr Williamson: If you look at
photographs from the 1950s of youth clubs, they are absolutely
jam-packed with young people having good leisure time. The expectations
of youth services have increased dramatically in terms of what
services for young people are meant to be achievingnon-formal
learning, personal development and those sorts of things. Theoretically,
young people in British society now have access to a repertoire
of possibility, but the problem is that some young people, probably
those who we in this room are concerned most about, who do not
beat a path to those doors, get left behind. The youth divide
between the included and those outside widens.
Q174 Craig Whittaker: I'm a bit
of a simple guy. I don't quite get it. I do not understand the
question. Is it better or is it not? That seemed to be quite
a simple question. The evidence is that we have more than 1 million
NEETs. We have the highest teenage pregnancy in Europe so, to
my simple mind, that would indicate that we are failing in this
What we do know and what we have heard from
young people is that they definitely feel positive impacts from
youth services, but we are yet to uncover any researched evidence
to that effect. What major studies exist on the value and impact
of youth services, and what do they include?
Janet Batsleer: Can I separate
out the issues? The impact of NEETs and the impact of teenage
pregnancy are not the essential points that we are struggling
Q175 Craig Whittaker: But aren't
Janet Batsleer: Well, they are,
but not in the direct way that you want to imagine they might
be. Perhaps you can think of the impact of youth work in relation
to the impact of schools, and whether you would assess a school
in relation to those targets. Does it reduce NEETs? Does it
reduce teenage pregnancy? On the whole, we do not as a society
assess schools directly in relation to those targets because we
know that schools are there to produce better-educated citizens.
We know that youth work is there to produce opportunities for
the personal, social and spiritual development of young people
so that they reach their potential outside of the school system
through activities that they join in their leisure time.
To understand the impact of youth work on those
things, a number of major studies show evidence, which I am sure
my colleagues can point you to: the work being done by Joseph
Rowntree on detached work, work done by Durham university on youth
work as a practice and work that has been done on the participation
of citizenship by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.
A number of studies will enable us to understand the impact of
I want to guide the Committee away from attempting
to assess the impact of youth work directly in terms of its impact
on the NEET figures or the teenage pregnancy figures, which of
course we are right to be concerned about.
Q176 Craig Whittaker: Just so
I understand, are you saying that they are a detached thing, so
school is completely detached from youth services or are you saying
that it should be a co-ordinated affair, which it currently is
Janet Batsleer: Clearly, it needs
to be co-ordinated. That is my view. Plenty of evidence suggests
that there needs to be linkage between all the places where young
people live their lives and engage positively with adults.
Q177 Craig Whittaker: So the NEETs
and the teenage pregnancies do have a bearing on youth services.
Janet Batsleer: Yes, and there
are studies that explore that. Howard can talk to us about them.
Dr Williamson: The big De Montfort
research on youth work usefully and reasonably simply draws attention
to the contribution of youth work to personal change that then
produces what they call positional change. I always feel a bit
boxed in by the company that is here because, although I am an
academic, I was an open youth work practitioner for 30 years.
Janet Batsleer: I think we all
Dr Williamson: Yes, but probably
not for quite as long as that. I am still in touch with a lot
of those people. Those in the oldest group are now 50 years old,
and there are still recollections of things that were done through
the youth work experience as teenagers to which they draw my attention
that shifted their thinking around careers, crime and a range
of different things. But whether you can tie youth work intervention
tightly to reducing the number of young people not in education,
employment or trainingsorry, I detest the acronymand
reducing teenage pregnancy, I do not know.
I remember having a really practical challenge
with a group of skateboarders, who were a flipping nuisance in
the neighbourhood. I talked to an ex-youth club lad, by chance,
and I told him this problem. He said, "Howard, you never
stopped us doing anything, but you slowed us down and made us
think." I felt quite proud of the remark that he had made.
I am still in touch with him. He is 50, and I have supported him
throughout his life on a whole range of different things.
Another one of my soundbites is "critical
people at critical moments", meaning that when you've got
a youth workernot necessarily a professional youth worker,
but somebody working with young people, preferably trained and
skilledthey know how to respond to young people. If it
is your young woman at risk of teenage pregnancy or your young
person at risk of dropping out, they know how to sign-post them
to support and they sustain the support. They are the glue that
connects those things.
Q178Chair: I'd like to follow Craignot
his provocative beginning, but his question on studies and what
they conclude. We are trying to get a sense of the evidence base
on the effectiveness of youth work.
Dr Williamson: I did a great deal
of work for the European Commission, trying to look at studies
across Europe. Of course, there are studies at many different
levels. There are a few gold standard studies, funded by major
research institutions. Then there are a lot of local studies,
and a great number of studies produced by Fairbridge, the Prince's
Trust and charities.
Q179 Chair: Hit us with some findings.
Dr Williamson: The studies talk
about costthe economic benefitsand they talk about
the social benefits, and by and large the conclusion is that youth
workers don't transform people's lives, but they make a significant
contribution to reshaping young people's lives, giving them a
different path to the future.
Dr Wood: One of the things to
acknowledge is that there is a wide range of evidence available
across the piece. Often, what's been said outside is that there's
not a lot of evidence of the impact of youth work, when the reverse
is true. It is everywhere. It is usually locally collected, because
services are locally delivered, and it crosses all sorts of domains.
Q180Craig Whittaker: Sorry to interrupt
you there, but wouldn't it be fair to say that although there
is a plethora of pockets of evidence, they are quite limited in
Dr Wood: Of course. The follow-through
point is that we need a better sense of how we synthesise that
evidencehow we bring together a more convincing case on
what the impact of youth work is.
We were asked specifically about what major
studies exist. The 2004 one, to which Howard referred, was on
the impact of youth work, commissioned by the Department for Education
and conducted at De Montfort. The big findings that come out of
that are that youth work has a measurable impact on all sorts
of soft skillsthings that are perhaps hard to measure,
and that may in turn have an impact on school attendance, engagement
in the community and so on. The key messages there are that young
people value those experiences, in building their confidence and
self-esteem, and in being able to gain a voice and influence in
the communities in which they live. In response to Craig's point
about interconnectedness, that study also found that youth workers
were making a contribution to a range of other policy objectives,
but there was a primary purpose of personal and social education,
and the consequence and effect of that was some impact on those
other areas that you were talking about.
Q181Craig Whittaker: Let me come back
to that. Given the statement that a lot of these reports are quite
limited in focus, is it not time that we did a national survey
or a national report on youth services?
Dr Wood: I'm excited by that prospect.
Of course I am, because I'm a researcher and a youth worker by
background as well. There is a call to do something systematic
and large-scale that helps us understand the impact of youth work.
The world has moved on significantlyyou were describing
the past 50 yearsand even since the 2004 impact study,
our approaches to evaluations, and the ways in which we engage
young people in the processes of evaluation, have moved on. There
is a lot to be learned from that process. I have been giving some
thought to how that might look and how we might conduct such an
Q182 Craig Whittaker: Howard,
you mentioned the work around Europe. Are any European countries
better at researching and evaluating youth services, and if so,
Dr Williamson: I know you've been
to Finland, although you did not look at the youth work side of
things. The Finnish Youth Research Society is phenomenally well
resourced by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Helsinki.
Part of its package of activity is looking at various kinds of
youth programmes in Finland, but it is exceptional. Largely, research
studies of youth work per se are pretty few and far betweensometimes
we are talking about youth work, and sometimes we are talking
about services for young people; we must be careful about separating
Q183 Craig Whittaker: Jason, can
I ask you about the Department's 2004 study on the impact of youth
work, which concluded that the sector needed to get better at
measuring, and making the case for the benefits of youth work?
Has it changed since then?
Dr Wood: I can give you some views
on what I think has changed. Since 2004 and that impact study,
lots of work has been done to support local authorities and, in
many services, to capture impact better. For example, tools are
out there, and there are approaches that areas can use to demonstrate
the impact of youth services. They can draw on young people's
perceptions of change, on distance travelled, and on parent, community
and school views, and so on. That approach is becoming better.
Do I know the current landscape, in terms of the extent to which
people are capturing outcomes? No, because we do not have that
Input datathe data that should drive
needsare very strong. The fact that we can all quote NEETs,
the number of teenage pregnancies and the number of young people
who are parents shows that we can indicate input datathe
numbers going in. We are also good at counting outputs; we can
say "This many people have a certificate in this", or
"This many people attended this number of provisions for
this length of time." We need to get stronger at looking
at the outcomes and at how we see what an outcome looks like when
somebody has been involved in youth work.
Q184 Craig Whittaker: So there
are pockets of good work, but nothing national.
Dr Wood: My sense is that it is
not national, but my colleagues may have a different view.
Janet Batsleer: I wonder if I
could raise a caveat that relates to the Tired of Hanging Around
study from the Audit Commission. We are talking about a small
level of resource that is at the disposal of youth services. One
of the problems that the Audit Commission identified under the
previous Administration was the amount of red tape, bureaucracy
and collection of data that was required in relation to multiple
funding streams, which were then not analysed. Practitioners were
tied up in that kind of activity for about a third of their time.
If we are going down the measurement roadand,
of course, people who give money go down that roadI wonder
if it is worth looking at what the Charity Commission expects
in auditing and responses to our status as charities. You are
asking, "Better or worse?" In our recent experience,
which is absolutely evidenced, worse is this business of multiple
funding streams with multiple accountabilities, which require
multiple forms of data collection at micro-level. In the end,
those data prove what 40 years of research has already demonstratedthat
personal, social and spiritual developmental opportunities for
young people are of value to our society, and that we value them
in much the same way as other nations value such opportunities.
Dr Williamson: There is a different
research question: what do young people need in the modern world
to equip them with the confidence and competence to function positively
and responsibly in labour markets, civil society and personal
family life? That is what the question should be.
I once asked people to write down a list of
what young people needed, and historicallywhich is the
Chairman's question, in a sensemost of those things were
served by families and schools. Now, with new technologies and
a range of other things, such as mobility and languages, there
is a set of other things that young people need. Most people agree
on a list of about 10 different things, and research supports
that. Once we can produce that list, we have to ask: how do they
get it? Most young people in British society still get it largely
through the good offices of their parents and their school. Some
young people don't get it, and they get left behind. My view is
that public services for young people have to reach out more robustly
to the young people who don't get away from home experiences,
through international exchanges or suchlike, to encourage them
to access those things. Otherwise, they get trapped in localism,
homophobia, racism and so on.
Q185 Chair: You've whipped us
forward. We are making good progress, but we will come to outcomes
later. Jason, you said that you had been giving some thought to
this study. Can you succinctly share that with us?
Dr Wood: Rapidly, yes.
Q186 Chair: We do inquiries, write
reports and give them to Government, who are obliged to respond.
The key element of what we do is recommendations to Government,
so don't leave here today with something that you clearly want
the Government to do without articulating it in a way that might
be reflected in our report.
Dr Wood: I think there is scope
to undertake some sort of meta-analysis of the reports that exist
out there. I think the literature is vast and varied, and the
academic community would welcome an opportunity to look at that.
That would then inform the framework for a national impact evaluation
of youth services, which in my mind looks something like a national
survey of local authority funded provision. That may be 150 local
authorities, or it might be a sample thereof.
Q187 Chair: Who should do this
study, and who should pay for it?
Dr Wood: Obviously, I would say
De Montfort university, in consort with my peers. Universities
that have youth work research and training units would be the
best-placed organisations to do this, because we see evaluation
as a mechanism for understanding and investigating impact, but
we also seek to develop learning as a result of that, so we would
see that informing the teaching of youth workers and also influencing
the local authorities who participated. I have prepared some notes
that I can leave with the Committee on how that might look.
Q188 Chair: Excellent. Thank you
very much. Tony, I know you've been bursting to come in.
Tony Gallagher: I share Craig's
pragmatic view of life. I don't look at these things from an academic
point of view particularly, but Ofsted goes out and we see what
happens. We meet youngsters and we meet workers. To go back to
the issue about young people not in employment, it is entirely
reasonable to ask those questions. Youth services are one of a
bundle of services that contribute to that. If I am a youth worker
working on a Friday night, it is very hard to relate to that national
target. Be assured that in the work that we seethe face-to-face
workwe see youngsters' resilience, and their ability to
communicate better and actually engage with something in the locality.
These small but important steps are out there. I think it's probably
fair to say that there is a lot of convincing evidence that those
things happen with youngsters. The extent to which that has a
knock-on effect on teenage pregnancy rates is a bigger question,
but a valid question nevertheless.
Chair: Excellent. Over to Nick.
Q189 Nic Dakin: One of the new
Government's flagship programmes for young people is the national
citizen service. How would you set the parameters for evaluating
the effectiveness of that now, at the start?
Janet Batsleer: I'm very excited
about the national citizen service. I would say that you have
to think about how to engage and recognise that you're going to
engage all your people. If you're calling it a national service,
it needs to mean that. You need to get some indicators about whether
young people between the ages of 16 to 18 have been able to access
this opportunity, which is an opportunity that is really recognisable
to youth workers, in terms of the residential experience.
In many familiesI would speak for my
own familyyoung people have had the opportunity to access
those kinds of residential experiences through music, sport, the
Duke of Edinburgh award and so on. There are a group of young
people who will access that kind of experience only if they are
supported through the kinds of engagement that voluntary youth
work enables. Youth clubs enable. Youth projects in local areas
enable. Importantly, detached youth work enables. You would have
to evaluate in quantitative terms whether you had in fact reached
young people across that age cohort. We will be able to do that
because of the 2000 birth cohort study. You would then have to
think about what it is you are aspiring to through a programme
of that kind.
One of the things I believe you are aspiring
to do is give the young people of the nation the message that
they are of worth, that they belong, that they are already citizens,
that you recognise their ability to contribute to one another
and, specifically, as I understand it through the scheme, a sense
of integration in society. So there could be the opportunity for
young people from Longsightthe neighbourhood in Manchester
with which I am very familiarperhaps to meet young people
from Kensington and Chelsea; you have somebody from there speaking
to the Committee in the next session, I believe. That would be
part of a residential experience, thus building networks, and
the sense of belonging and connection. I would exploreand
you would be able to do this through counting and, more interestingly,
through qualitative approachesto what extent a serious
intervention of this kind contributes to a growth of a sense of
belonging among young people.
Dr Wood: I would add to that that
there are probably important lessons to be learned from the NFER
evaluations of citizenship education, a longitudinal study looking
at how attitudes and experience changed over time as a result
of citizenship programmes. The strength of that work is that it
points to community-based volunteeringthe volunteering
that creates experiential learningas the strongest. It
would be worth drawing on that body of work to inform monitoring
and evaluation of these activities.
It is also important not just to accept the
instrumental change that you would see in young people, which
is the immediate impact of a project. You might look at something
in the moment and say, "They are doing x number of hours
of activity; that is a successful outcome for the national citizenship
service." I would be asking, "What are the longer-term
impacts? How are inter-generational relationships improving in
local communities? Are young people less isolated? Are they less
intruded on by police and residents and so on?"
Q190 Chair: How would you do that?
Dr Wood: How? It would be a case
of trying to take a particular cohort of that group and revisit
those cohorts over time.
Q191 Chair: Do you have any understanding
of whether the Government have plans to do such a thing?
Dr Wood: I don't know very much
about the plans for the NCS evaluation.
Q192 Nic Dakin: Generally speaking,
so far during this inquiry, I think we have got the impression
that everybody knows what good youth work is when they see it.
There is part of an argumentand I think Janet was going
there a littlethat says, "Let's just crack on with
it." The resource and time spent measuring it could be spent
getting on and doing it. Is that a cop-out, or is it a reasonable
argument that we ought to take cognisance of?
Tony Gallagher: It's not a cop-out.
The reality is that youth work in the country is provided by volunteersthe
backbone of itand part-time workers. There is a cornucopia
of people who contribute. In terms of the "so what?"
questionwhat is the social impact of this?I have
to stress that there is no one simple answer. There is plenty
of evidence to suggest that where it works welland it doesn't
alwayswe see youngsters engaged, they keep coming back,
there is good retention. You can see progress over time: they
can do things now that they couldn't three months ago. You can
see adults around them understanding the development of these
youngsters. You see that mix, if you like, that hopefully will
have a knock-on effect on future resilience and ability.
Yes, I am afraid that is a messy answer in a
sense, but that is the way of this very rich sectorlocal
authority, voluntary sector and what have you. That mosaic is
important. I am not ducking the question. We have plenty of evidence.
There's evidence around C4EOthe Centre for Excellence and
Outcomes in Children and Young People's Serviceswhich has
done some good sector-led work recently about the case study.
Look at a couple of particular cases. Don't just tell the story,
but get below the case study to see the progress these youngsters
have made. I would argue that there is evidence around that, and
it isn't straightforward.
Dr Williamson: Can I just support
the national citizenship service? 20 years ago, I wrote a paper
about the case for a national community service programme. I think
it's a good start, but I would like to see it broadened into formal
schooling as an element of young people's learning, development
and contribution. It is too short at the moment. It has bottled
out of the question of compulsion, because the ultimate acid test
of the national citizens serviceor programme, or scheme,
or whatever we call itis the social integration achievement
that it produces. If it ends up being an option taken by only
a certain group of young people in our society, it might be a
wonderful thing to talk about in terms of community activity,
and so on, but it won't have achieved its primary purpose. That
purpose, I think, is the one that used to prevail in other forms
of national service, which is to provide a shared experience that
people could talk about. That is absolutely critical in an increasingly
divided societyconnecting young people to each other, and
connecting young people to generations.
Q193 Nic Dakin: The panel answered
two of my questions at the same time, which is an interesting,
innovative approach. Janet, should we just get on with it and
trust the people who get the money, and not spend all this time
Janet Batsleer: Don't reflect
back so much as move forward. We are picking up on Howard's point
about what kind of further studies might be done, and we are saying,
"Yes, there is another set of research questions, other than
that of impact." In our field of work, we have always had
a tradition of research and investigation linked to practice,
which was very strong in the detached youth work field. If you
were to read back 40 years, you would find projects called "experimental
youth work", but nobody would suggest running an experiment
on young people nowI hope. The notion of experimental youth
work is, "What new things are happening in the world that
we need to develop the resource and skills for among our body
of practitioners? What new things are happening, and what kind
of projects, clubs and associations do we need?" You are
holding on to the old ideas and cracking on with it, but you are
amending and developing them in a deliberative and gradualist
way, which, I suppose, is the tradition in education research
Specifically in youth work, there is the notion
of projects often supported by national voluntary organisationsI
think it's clubs for young people now. If you look back, how many
of the innovative practices have been developed in that kind of
research practice partnership through detached work? So, crack
on with it, but inform yourselves as you're doing so.
Chair: We need to move on fairly quickly.
Q194 Pat Glass: We are talking,
at least in part, about public money. I appreciate what you're
saying, but we must have something that sits between measuring
absolutely everything we do, taking all the money and doing that,
and a statement that says, "Give us the money and we'll do
good work." What we are looking at, and what seems to be
missing from the evidence we have had so far, is what difference
youth work makes. We need to know in terms of value for money.
Is it working?
Tony, how would Ofsted measure it? In schools,
if you see good youth work, you know itwe go in and observe
the teacher in the classroom. How does Ofsted judge achievement
in terms of youth work?
Tony Gallagher: Thank you for
that. There are two things. First, you would see through various
Ofsted reports a level of criticism about targets. Although it
is imperative that local authorities and Government understand
such questions as how much, how many and how far
Q195 Pat Glass: We are talking
Tony Gallagher: I will get to
that. Targets have been helpful in some way in getting to the
question of outcomes, but there has been an imbalance in that
directionthe direction of targets.
In terms of outcomes, our approach always has
been to engage strongly with the sector, using people, including
young people, in the process of observing practice, and of trying
to record different forms of achievementinformal achievement,
and the more formal achievement through certification and such
like. We have a framework in place from the 1980s, which has been
updated over a number of years and sets out how young people gain,
in terms of their relationships. They learn some of the practical
skills of getting better at getting jobs, and they understand
all these wider issues. In terms of achievement, the way we went
about it was to directly observe practice, set a level of outcome
standards that people understood and could relate to, and
Q196 Pat Glass: So what kinds
of things would those outcome standards be?
Tony Gallagher: For the outcome
standards, in terms of youth work, we measured things such as
the number of people involved and, more importantly, the retentionhow
long they were involved in that sort of activity. There are various
simple and effective ways of charting a youngster's progress,
either by talking to them, or by documenting"The things
I can do now," "How I feel about myself" and "The
things I've learnt over the past four, five or 12 months."
So, there is a way of charting that.
Q197 Pat Glass: Would you use
things such as the child's attendance at school, and whether it
Tony Gallagher: In the past couple
of years, as there's been a move towards the integration of these
services, from a youth work point of view there have been some
core achievements, which I have mentioned, and also important
orbiting achievements, about attendance at school. When we knowwe've
seen plenty of examplesthat a youngster has not been attending
school, because the youth worker has got wind of that or the system
has allowed the youth worker to understand that, then he or she
has worked well with the youngster to address why they are not
attending school, meeting with them in their informal time and
dealing with those sorts of issues. Increasingly, the youth service
and youth workers are part of that bigger picture, for sure.
Q198 Pat Glass: Do you think that
there's a greater role for that? I've come across schemes that
kids really want to be on, but the youth workers make it very
clear that if you do not attend school and do not meet your targets,
you're not on the scheme. That's a way of improving those children's
outcomes. Do you think there's a role for that, and that it should
Dr Williamson: I think that that
produces the problem of defining exactly what we're talking about
when we're talking about youth work. I'm not always a supporter
of the cherished value of voluntarism, but at the moment youth
work is defined as a voluntary engagement. We might want to debate
that. You talk about schemes, and some people would say that such
schemesthe kind I think you're referring toare not
actually youth work; they are other kinds of programmes with different
objectives and purposes, and are time limited
Q199 Pat Glass:
So it should not be publicly funded?
It might be funded by another department.
Yes. I once said that youth work was an act of faith not an act
of science and that has haunted me most of my life, but I also
argue that it's like looking for the holy grail to be searching
for impact measures from what is sometimes a brief encounter with
youth work, sometimes a leisure-based encounter over a period
of time and sometimes a serious encounter over a long period.
I often said that you can turn people around in 24 hours if you
have enough professional discretion and flexibility to give them
support with the police, schools, families or whatever it is.
But sometimes it takes six years. We simply do not know.
What we should be looking at though is the quality
of offer, of the intervention that is made. I think that there
is too much youth work, not just in the UK but in many other places,
that we would want to not exist because it doesn't do young people
many services. We need to be looking at the quality of intervention
that is made. From an inspectorate point of view, that is pretty
hard, but you can go into youth projects
Q200 Chair: But if they can't
do it, who can? If I follow you correctly, you have just suggested
that there are some services that we really shouldn't be offering,
which are taking up scarce public finance. Tony's job is to go
and identify that. Where are they, where is his analysis going
wrong, and how do we root them out so that we can put more money
into those things that do add value?
Dr Williamson: If we look at the
Nordic countries, they publicly fund youth work that is self-governed
by young peopleit is youth organisations. All you have
to have is a membership, and you get funded according to that.
That is based on the political belief that youth organisations,
in running themselves, produce certain kinds of citizenship and
public participation impacts.
Q201 Pat Glass: In these times
of tight public finances, we need a little more than faith. The
arguments that have been given are the same as those that I've
heard over many years in relation to many other services. I have
had this conversation with teachers. I don't care how many deaf
children you see, I want to know: what difference does it make
to their GCSE results? I am looking for outcomes that we can measure,
so that we know that what is going in is good value for money
and that it makes a difference to the child's life.
Dr Williamson: And over what time
frame you seek to measure it.
Q202 Pat Glass: And over what
time frame we need to measure it.
Dr Wood: I would also insert the
multifaceted nature of young people's lives, and the fact that
they are going through a period of transition. It is really hard
to know what services and relationships
Q203 Pat Glass: Exactly the same
arguments are made to me by an EBD school.
Dr Wood: I understand.
Q204 Pat Glass: Measuring the
cost of an intervention is very difficult, but it is about, how
do we do that? Is the work of organisations such as the Prince's
Trust, which has tried to do it, useful and should it be used
Dr Wood: When collected together,
the material becomes a compelling case for youth work. There are
studies that show impacts. There are people who have tracked young
people over a longer period, who have tried to break down the
multifaceted nature of impact. On the impact of detached youth
work, the National Youth Agency has looked at reporting figures
of antisocial behaviour in the community and community perceptions
of crime and safety. There is a measurable difference in that
respect. Poor school attendance is often a proxy measure for the
impact of youth work. We need to look at these things. I do not
want to close down that debate. I think it is worth having and
worth looking at.
Q205 Chair: But if we close down
the debate and come up with a basket of measures, which will inevitably
be criticised by many for its shortcomings because nothing's perfect,
but stick with it for a while and say, "We can't review it
for five years," wouldn't that help to provide some clarity
and allow people to deliver? We could measure some outcomesthat
the children are happy and value what they get. That would be
pretty important. You could have another basket of measures, and
say, "Right, deliver on that and public funding continues."
At the moment, we have incoherence as to what value is being delivered,
which is one of the problems when there is little money.
Janet Batsleer: I think that we'll
need clarity about at what level you want the measures, because
making measures at local authority level makes a lot of sense.
It makes much less sense to make the measures at the level of
the individual child or young person. That has to be thought through.
Ofsted makes those measures at the level of local authority provision,
and it has specific ways of doing that. I think that it may be
that other criteria could be built into the Ofsted or JAR processes,
and I would suggest that the social contribution to a sense of
belonging is a very important impact to explore. As Howard says,
social integration is an important one to explore. Of course you
can count it, because you can count the number of 16 to 18 or
21-years-olds in your neighbourhood, and you can know how many
young people are benefitting from the offer being made around
Q206 Ian Mearns: Young people
are different year on year. They are complex individuals, and
in groups they could be even more complex, but schools are expected
to be measured against the outcomes for a particular cohort. Can
youth work not be done measured on outcomes for particular cohorts?
Tony Gallagher: Can I come back
to my opening statement that tried to describe the landscape of
youth work? Some youngsters get a very deep experience at a point
of crisis; we have seen that and it helps them. Others are involved
for seven years, grow with it and move on. If only it were as
simple as an institution with four walls and set targets, which
is the way schools and colleges are. It is a heck of a lot easier
to do. That is not shirking the question for a minute. On the
notion of a cohort, in fact, only a small percentage of youngsters
choose to be involved in these services.
I argue that there are better ways of doing
it. We could sample itlet's look at samples. The notion
of a cohort, given the landscape I described, is something that
I would find quite difficult, and I think that colleagues here
would probably find it methodologically difficult.
Q207 Ian Mearns: Tony, with respect,
many schools are measured against the performance of other schools.
Some schools have significant churn in their cohort, but they
are not given any credit for that within the Ofsted measurement
Tony Gallagher: Yes, we can do
that. For example, there is the whole notion of benchmarking,
which is how well authority X is doing against authority Y. We
have used those mechanisms in the past, but they are now less
prevalent. There are those harder mechanisms that I think we can
use, as long as it is balanced out, in my judgment, with how well
the youngsters are progressing, given the landscape that I tried
to describe to you. It is incredibly important that we get a grip
on the issue of the value for money and what the social return
from all of this is. I would encourage the Committee to understand
that it is not as straightforward as it would be in an institution.
You've got 800 youngsters, if there are 750
Q208 Chair: Tony, whatever we
are unclear of, we are not unclear about how not straightforward
Tony Gallagher: I am sure you
Q209 Damian Hinds: I do not think
that there is any dispute among any of you or any of us that having
young people engaged in things socially is important, and that
there is clear benefit in having inspirational adults in the lives
of children, whether that is at school, at home and in other senses,
for example when you talked about your particular experience when
you managed to, perhaps not stop people doing things, but slow
them down. We all sort of recognise that; it points to things
in our own youth and people who have had an impact on us. That
has always been there in different formsthe scouts, boxing
clubs and informal things have been there. But we have more of
an industry today, as it were. I'm not sure that in the '50s we
would have had such a distinguished group of academics to choose
from, for example. If, as a result of all that industry, we have
all these brilliant studies, which tell us that everything about
youth groups is positive, and yet we have to come back to where
Craig started: we have almost the highest rate of teenage pregnancy
in Europe and 924,000 young people in what we used to call youth
unemployment, surely they are the wrong measures. Discuss.
Tony Gallagher: I think there
are lots of weaknesses in delivery of youth services in the country.
They are inconsistent across the country and within services.
There is a level of expectation of what youth services can do
with a limited resource. Staff are not always properly deployed.
Until recently, building stock has been poor and, invariably,
services find themselves at the bottom of capital building programmes.
So there is a host of weaknesses, which is very important. Ofsted
has reported over the years where those inefficiencies and challenges
Q210 Damian Hinds: But the central
point is that if all the studies are saying how ace everything
is, yet kids are sleeping around and not getting jobs, how ace
can it really be?
Chair: I want a fab answer to that.
Dr Williamson: There is the huge
question of reach, which is about a lot of the most vulnerable
young people. That is why detached workers are so important, as
are other kinds of work that reach out and go to find young people
who are vulnerable and at risk, with a prospect of becoming NEET.
That's the problem. If you simply have a whole repertoire of voluntary
participative services for young people, those who are supported
by parents, motivated and less at risk will be the ones who pass
through those doors. Janet's paper to you described the Filip
Coussée paradox, but slightly differently from the way
Filip Coussée said it himself. He said that youth work
that works reaches the wrong kids, and youth work does not reach
the kids who would benefit from youth work interventions. That's
the paradox, but that's in Flanders.
Q211 Pat Glass: My background
is in education, and for years, youth work was something that
went on over there with some other people who were not connected
to a school. In recent times, the youth service has been something
of a Cinderella service in terms of funding, and it's likely to
get worse. The people who are putting up the greatest fight for
youth work are schools, because it is the targeted bit. Is that
because the schools are seeing the impact of youth services on
these non-engaged children and those children who are operating
on the margins? Is it because there were some outcomes that the
schools could see?
Tony Gallagher: Our report, "Supporting
Young People", which was published last year, looked at the
whole business of integration. It pointed out some very good examples
in various parts of the country. There were some strong examples
in the north-east, where youth service was integral to the "team
around the child" ideaworking with the schools, the
Education Welfare Service and Connexions. If you like, youngsters
were always being connected. At weekends and evenings, youth workers
knew where they were and were part of a school-based panel. Some
schools operated that very well indeed. There was a centrality
there to the youth service and to the youth workers and a great
added value. There are good models around that, and we can happily
illustrate those for you.
Damian Hinds: I think Jason and Janet
were keen to come in.
Dr Wood: I will be brief. To draw
on both those points, I know that information, advice and guidance
is not in the purview of this inquiry, but we did an evaluation
of the Connexions service. One of the things that we saw was that
those single-stranded, targeted, hard approaches of work with
young people invariably did not lead to a positive impact. It
was the trusting relationship, the flexibility and the multifaceted
nature that had the most impact on young people. That is what
teachers noticed; they noticed that flexibility and that responsiveness
to young people, which somehow sits within and outside a school
Janet Batsleer: I understand the
impetus behind the citizenship service is precisely to say, "You
are of value. Young people are of value to us as a society. At
this point, if you are a young person who is not in work, or who
is expecting a baby, you are still of value." I am sure that
we would make a difference, if the intervention over time was
sustained and if there was a genuine reach of that intervention
across the whole of society.
Q212 Damian Hinds: If we had more
time it would be interesting to discuss the use of the words "output"
and "outcome". In an earlier discussion, people were
describing measures on youth unemployment and teenage pregnancy
as input measures. I think that that is fascinating, but that
is by the by.
May I ask a key question, which I believe goes
to the nub of this? My Committee colleagues will be aware that
I am keen on data analysis, where possible, as a way of prioritising
spend and so on. My own take from this morning and from other
sessions we have had is that you are on a hiding to nothing by
trying to find meaningful, predictive, intermediate datain
other words, the things which would predictively and accurately
measure the things that society will really care about in the
future. If that is true and there really is not much hope of using
data analysis, how should the Government set budgets for the support
of youth work? Does it come down to, as Nick rightly said, the
fact that most people know what is right when they see it, so
the only thing you can do is set a number, whatever it is, and
devolve the budget and decision making to a level where people
can go out and see it, rather than trying to measure these things
with a clever formula?
Dr Williamson: We tried to do
this many years ago. In 1994, I wrote a paper called "Planning
for a Sufficient Youth Service." It was based on a provisional
framework of thinking that perhaps one third of the population
of young people aged between 13 and 19 should be entitled to 100
hours of non-formal education a year, at an hourly rate that was
equivalent to a secondary school hourly rate per pupil. That came
to £300 million at the time, which was broadly similar to
the 2% figure that was seen in 1940-something to be the proportion
of formal education budgets that should be allocated to informal
education or youth work activity. The paper was trying to return
to that 2% marker.
Q213 Damian Hinds: Could you do
a pupil premium version of that?
Dr Williamson: Yes, indeed. I
think that one of the huge challenges is having the right professionals.
I argued with the former Administration that they needed advanced
skilled practitioners in youth services to reach the more challenging
young people with clusterings of disadvantage. Unfortunately,
there are two big problems that I hope you will pay some attention
to. One is that far too many rookie and rather naive youth work
practitioners are put to work combating teenage pregnancy and
they're going to be eaten alive, largely, by some of these wily
and worldly wise young people. The other is that far too much
energy and resources are spent on competing with each other to
provide the same kinds of services in the same locality. That
was not the case 15 years ago; there were big gaps, but then,
suddenly, under a former Prime Minister's social inclusion agenda,
lots of youth organisations turned their face to, "We are
going to be the ones to re-engage the young people who are NEET".
Suddenly, you found five organisations trying to do exactly the
same thing in the same locality with the same kids.
Chair: I am going to have to move on,
though this is fascinating.
Q214 Neil Carmichael: Tony, I've
been looking at the performance of Ofsted in measuring youth services.
Your report of 2005-08 notes that only 2% of provision is judged
by you to be "excellent" or "outstanding".
Why do you think that is? It is not a high figure.
Tony Gallagher: That's a good
question. I add one caveat, which is that life has changed a lot
between 2008 and now. I would like to get to that, if I can. You
are right that the bulk of services then were judged to be "satisfactory"
or "good"; there were few that managed to hit that high-flying
"outstanding" figure. I mentioned the reasons for that
before: it is very striking how inconsistent local authorities
areremember that a local authority owns the youth servicein,
for example, things like deploying staff. Why is it that you can
find a strikingly good piece of youth work and go around the corner
and find something that is very poor? That is one reasonthere
There are other reasons as well. There is a
fair amount of intervention by elected members locally. Elected
members like to have provision in their particular wards, so you
get some skew-whiffing, if you like, of provision. My biggest
issue is that there is an awful lot expected of youth services.
What happens is that the butter is spread very thinly. We see
many small projects. It might be better to see fewer, more effective
and bigger projects with better outcomes. Those are the sorts
of issues that contributed to the fact that very few services
hit the "outstanding" button. It is fair to say that
there was improvement; we saw improvement from 2005 to 2008. By
the way, those issues still remain.
Chair: One more question.
Q215 Neil Carmichael: Then I must
skip forward and move straight on to the comparison between England
and Scotland and ask whether Ofsted should be looking at all services.
What do you think of that idea?
Tony Gallagher: Ofsted's involvement
with the sector has been very profitable over the years, I have
to say. At the moment, we do not inspect youth services; we undertake
children's services assessments and do the surveys I spoke about,
so it is not in my remit to give you a straight answer in terms
of policy, but if there were to be a discussion about, let's call
it inspection, I think it has to move on. We have to look at things
like self-assessment. The days of a blanket inspection programme
will, I'm sure, have gone.
Also, in the notion of the youth sector, there
tends to be a split between the voluntary sector and the statutory.
Let us think about provision for youngsters in the locality; let
us package it in that way. Let's involve young people in that
sort of process, and some peers. I would argue that there is room
for inspectionI would, wouldn't I? It's not for me to say
at the moment, but it will have to be revisited. Certainly, in
Scotland, as you rightly say, the voluntary sector is part of
that. After all, that's part of the youth service family. That
is the way I would argue we should be portraying this, not one
or t'other. So there are five or six issues that I suggest would
contribute well to an inspection accountability improvement framework,
Dr Wood: I have a brief point.
Peer self-assessment and young people's assessment are also good
approaches. All that needs to take place in the debate that we
are now having about whether we need a national institute or a
national body for youth work that enables us to explore such issues.
Neil Carmichael: That's a good suggestion,
Q216 Ian Mearns: Is it possible
to compare services across the country when there is significant
disparity in funding, the type of provision and the type of providers
in different parts of the country? Is there a definitive model
that we should adopt to evaluate youth service standards?
Chair: That's a simple one.
Tony Gallagher: We have an existing
framework that could be revisited. The question for me would have
to be what are the characteristics of a good youth service or
good youth work? Doing a like-for-like comparisonthis is
in my notesis very difficult for the reasons that you have
said. There may be a different emphasis locallyit might
be a rural area, rather than a conurbationso such simple
comparisons are difficult.
We can band work, and we can look at authorities
by size and such like. There is some mileage in doing that, and
it will tell you something. But we have to ensure that we add
a notion of looking at the practice and coming up with a professional
view about how good it is and how well youngsters are engaged.
So, yes, there is room for that, but it is limited in terms of
making a like-for-like comparison.
Q217 Ian Mearns: The bottom line
is, is it worth the bother?
Tony Gallagher: I think it is.
There's work to dobenchmarking is important. It is important
that one authority has a feel for what is happening next door:
are we doing better, and how are we getting on? So there is room
for that, but don't make an industry out of it. That is the problem.
Q218 Chair: How do we get that
visibility? I put down a series of questions to the Department
about mapping. How can people hold their local councillors to
account if they have no idea what the services in their area look
like compared with next door? As you said, there might by fantastic
services next door but those people have nothing and don't even
know about it. If you can't see it, how do you challenge it?
Janet Batsleer: Maps were made.
Maps have consistently been made under each Administration. I
suppose one of the issues for the Department is the connectivity.
Who holds the story in the Department about the maps that exist
when the Administration change? We can certainly point you to
historic mappings of provision that were made under the previous
Q219 Chair: We've already gone
over time and it has been a fascinating session. We have representatives
of the local authorities in with us next, so, very quickly, what
should we be challenging the local authorities on?
Dr Williamson: I'm hot on soundbites,
and I have not met a young person yet who has asked me, "Which
funding stream pays for this?" There can be different arrangements
for delivery, and, clearly, that's something that is exercising
your attention at the moment in commissioning and so on.
I think it's really back to the previous question.
We need to equalise the playing field for young people. A young
person in X place has access to four or five different kinds of
youth service opportunities, but a young person not that far away
has a very limited repertoire of choice. That is a huge challenge
for our society and for delivery. The second point is about rationalising
the kind of crowded territory to which I referred a little earlier.
In straitened times we have to think about a basic offer for young
people and then look at the best mechanisms for delivering it.
Tony Gallagher: Don't let it go.
There's a worry that currently some local authorities, because
of the situation in which they find themselves, are letting it
slip through their fingers. How ever youth work is deliveredthat
is a debatedon't let it go.
Chair: One of the reasons for having
this inquiry is that it is a key opportunity to make the case.
Janet Batsleer: I would ask them
how they are securing open-access youth work provision for the
young people in their locality and how they are evidencing that
they are doing that.
Dr Wood: I'd ask all that, then
I'd invite them to describe the relationship between the local
authority, youth work provision and the local HEIthe higher
education providerand how they are embedding that learning,
training and evaluation data into their practice.
Chair: Thank you all very much indeed
for coming to give evidence to us today.