1 Introduction |
Terminology: the 'Youth Service'
and youth services
5. Around 85% of young people's waking hours
are spent outside formal education. 
Yet each year local authorities spend 55 times more on formal
education than they do on providing services for young people
outside the school day.
There is a statutory duty on local authorities under the Education
and Inspections Act 2006 to provide some such activities.
The duty states that, for young people aged 13 to 19 and young
people aged 20 to 24 with learning disabilities:
A local education authority in England must, so far
as reasonably practical, secure for qualifying young persons in
the authority's area access to
(a) Sufficient educational leisure-time activities
which are for the improvement of their well-being, and sufficient
facilities for such activities; and
(b) Sufficient recreational leisure-time activities
which are for the improvement of their well-being, and sufficient
facilities for such activities.
It stipulates that local authorities may either provide
facilities for such activities, assist others in the provision
of such activities, or make arrangements for facilitating access
to such facilities.
In exercising their functions, local authorities must ascertain
the views of young people about activities and facilities and
the need for any additional such activities and facilities; and
must also publicise information about positive leisure-time activities
and facilities in the area, keeping that information up-to-date.
6. Local authorities have broadly provided two
types of service: 'open-access' (or 'universal') services including
a range of leisure, cultural, sporting and enrichment activities
often based around youth centres; and more targeted provision
for vulnerable young people, including teenage pregnancy advice,
youth justice teams, drug and alcohol misuse services and homelessness
support. Provision is overseen by local authority officers, but
service delivery is often contracted out to local voluntary or
community groups and, occasionally, private contractors. Somewhat
confusingly, perhaps, this local authority provision is often
referred to locally as 'the Youth Service' (e.g. 'Devon Youth
7. The beginning of an organised youth service
in England is usually traced back to the start of the Second World
War in 1939 and the issuing by the then Ministry of Education
of a circular (1486) entitled In the Service of Youth.
The circular called on local authorities to provide resources
for a youth service which would promote young people's social
and physical development. Greater resources were put into youth
services in the wake of a major review of youth provision in the
1960s conducted by the Albemarle Committee. Concerns about teenage
'delinquency' and the end of National Service in the 1950s had
led the Ministry of Education to appoint a committee, chaired
by Countess Albemarle, to review youth services in England and
Wales. Albemarle reported that voluntary attendance (by young
people) and voluntary help (by adult volunteers) were their great
strengths, in contrast to mandatory attendance at school. Weaknesses
were the lack of strong relationships between the statutory and
voluntary sector, and uncertainty about funding. As a result of
the report, substantial additional funding was committed to youth
services, the number of workers doubled in the following decade,
and a Joint Negotiating Committee was established to set terms
and conditions for youth workers at the national level.
8. In addition to local authority provision many
voluntary, community or private organisations choose to provide
services for young people. Some may seek contracts from local
or national government, while others fund their provision from
other sources. These services, too, encompass a range from open-access
activities such as the Scouts and Girlguiding, to more targeted
programmes such as those run by The Prince's Trust for disadvantaged
young people, and from uniformed and faith-based groups to community
and interest focused groups. The range of services and activities
provided under the description of 'services for young people'
is incredibly broad, so much so that even those in the sector
struggled to define it: for instance, Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive
of the National Youth Agency, said "it is almost difficult
to describe us as a sector. We are so differentfrom the
very local to the statutory service to the private deliverer".
Derek Twine, Chief Executive of The Scout Association added that
"the whole of young provision is very diverse. Its strength
is its biggest weakness".
A depiction of the relationship between youth work in its various
settings and the wider range of services for young people is provided
in the following diagram.
9. Our inquiry considered both those services
provided as part of the local authority offer and those run by
other groups. We took oral evidence from heads of local authority
youth services, as well as from a range of non-statutory providers
of open-access services, including the YMCA, the Scout Association
and the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey, and targeted services,
including Fairbridge and The Prince's Trust.
10. Youth work is a "deliberative educational
approach with its own pedagogy and professional base",
whose aim is to support the personal and social development of
young people through non-formal education. The practice has its
roots in the clubs and associations set up by voluntaryoften
faith-basedorganisations in the 19th century,
and youth work encompasses a range of activities with young people,
primarily those aged 13-19, which promote their personal development
and social education. A core principle of youth work is that
young people involve themselves by choice. As the National Youth
Agency describes: "its distinctive characteristics include
the voluntary engagement of young people, young people's active
involvement in developing provision, the use of informal education
as the primary method of youth engagement, and an approach to
provision that is responsive to young people's preferences".
Nick Wilkie, Chief Executive of London Youth, explained that youth
giving young people the opportunity to experience
something new, the ability to take responsibility and to come
together with a positive peer group to do thatall under
the watchful and affirming guise of a supportive, sensible adult
... At some level, most of us, if we were asked to close our eyes
and think about what it was in our adolescence that gives us confidence
and resilience, and the skills that we are using this morning,
would point to opportunities that broadly fulfil a definition
of youth work.
11. Youth workers are trained in youth work practice
and techniques to promote young people's personal and social development
and enable them to have a voice, influence and place in their
communities and society as a whole. Ginny Lunn, Director of Policy
and Development for The Prince's Trust, told us that the role
of youth workers was "to inspire young people, to give them
the inspiration and the hope, which you hear all the time is lacking",
and Janet Batsleer, Head of Youth and Community Work Studies at
Manchester Metropolitan University, 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".
12. Youth work takes place in a range of settings.
In addition to working for local authority youth services, youth
workers are employed by health authorities, youth justice teams,
sports development programmes, drugs projects, social services,
arts venues, schools and a range of voluntary organisations. Youth
work is often building-basedfor instance in community youth
clubsbut can also be street-based, and such 'detached'
youth work has increased in recent years.
Youth policy under the previous
and current administrations
13. Policy initiatives under the previous administration
led to the restructuring of some authorities' youth services and
a closer integration of 'universal' and 'targeted' provision.
The Youth Matters Green Paper (2005) and subsequent Youth
Matters: Next Steps White Paper introduced Integrated
Youth Support Services (IYSS), covering both universal services
such as youth centres, Connexions guidance and a range of personal
development and social activities for all young people; and Targeted
Youth Support (TYS), directed at those at risk of drug or alcohol
misuse, crime, homelessness, teenage pregnancy and other high-risk
individuals. Targeted Youth Support formed a discrete subset of
Integrated Youth Support Services. The rationale given in the
White Paper for this structural change was that agencies working
with young people had fragmented and were duplicating one another's
efforts, and that integrating their work around the needs of young
people would allow improved opportunities for young people to
develop social and emotional skills through informal learning
and provide better early identification of vulnerable teenagers.
Aiming High for Young People: a ten year strategy for young
people (2007) established a national policy framework, requiring
a local authorities to provide an offer for 'positive activities'
for all young people.
14. The current Government has yet to articulate
an overall youth policy, though it has made individual announcements
about introducing National Citizen Service, a six-week programme
of youth volunteering and residential activities for 16-year-olds
being piloted in 2011 and 2012. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State for Children and Families, Tim Loughton MP, told us that
he was "not going to hurry to come up with artificial timetables"
for setting out policy,
but outlined his thinking on youth services:
Youth services in this country are one of the most
high profile unreformed public services. Many other areas related
to children and young people have undergone immense changemuch
of it for the betterover the past couple of decades. It
strikes me that youth services have been left in a bit of a time
He told us that a youth action group had been established,
consisting of ministers from eight different departments, with
responsibility for "youth proofing" all their policies,
and that youth democratic engagement was a priority for the Government.
15. The Department for Education held a policy
summit entitled 'Positive for Youth' with a range of sector representatives
in March 2011, and is currently consulting on the content of a
youth strategy, due for publication later this year. The Minister
explained that he did not want this to be "another glossy
brochure that everyone puts on the shelf, but a living, breathing
document. I shall not just produce it to show it to people".
More broadly, the Government has set out early intervention as
a priority across the board, commissioning a review from Graham
Allen MP, bringing together funds under the Early Intervention
Grant, and calling for evidence-based targeted intervention. In
terms of youth services, this is likely to mean a prioritisation
of public funds for disadvantaged
young people, and of targeted
services over open-access ones.
3 Professor Tim Brighouse, Education without failure,
The Royal Society of Arts Digital Journal, Autumn 2008 Back
See paragraph 53. Mean per pupil spending by local authorities
in 2009-10 was £4,290. By comparison, mean spending per young
person by local authorities on youth services in the same year
was £77.28 Back
Part 1 Section 6 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (inserting
new Clause 507B into the Education Act 1996). Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/40/section/6 Back
Subsection (5) Back
Subsections (9) and (10) Back
Infed, The Albemarle report and the development of youth work
in England and Wales. Available online at: http://www.infed.org/youthwork/albemarle_report.htm
Q 60 Back
Q 104 Back
Adapted from a diagram produced by Tom Wylie, Spending Wisely-young
people, youth work and youth services: an introductory guide,
National Youth Agency (2006) Back
Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency, Q
National Youth Agency and Local Government Association (2010),
Valuing Youth Work, getting it right for young people, p.5 Back
Q 128 Back
Q 142 Back
Q 175 Back
Department for Education and Skills (2007), Targeted Youth
Support: A Guide, Foreword p.1 Back
Q 410 Back
Q 410 Back
Q 411 Back
Q 411 Back