A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
A week’s holiday may have softened my brain, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how much of the draft statutory guidance has made it to the final version, published a couple of weeks ago by DfE.
The range of services and approaches has broadened from the previous ‘positive activities’ guidance, and now includes community activity and volunteering along with personal and social development and creative and sporting activities.
Importantly, youth work is identified as a key element of provision.
Activities have been linked to the resilience capabilities identified through the Young Foundation’s Framework for Outcomes for Services for Young People.
Young people have a voice
There is a strong emphasis on young people having a voice in design and monitoring of provision, and local authorities are told they ‘must’ take the views of young people into account in making decisions about services for them. Had that been in place a year ago, we may have prevented some of the appalling cuts to funding for youth services in top tier local authorities in the South West: it will be important to make sure young people have a voice when more cuts are planned.
Local authorities are urged to ensure they have a structured arrangement for hearing the voice of young people, and that young people can play a role in monitoring and reviewing the extent to which services provided meet their needs. I don’t think this is just about training young inspectors to do snap-shot inspections: it can have a real impact on defining ‘sufficiency’ at local level.
A sufficient approach?
Inevitably, the guidance does not define sufficiency nationally – localism means that local authorities will have to decide this for themselves. However, the guidance does address sufficiency, listing the wide range of services they would expect to be included, encouraging local authorities to benchmark their provision against local and statistical neighbours, and availing themselves of support and challenge from within the sector and beyond.
The Network of Regional Youth Work Units provide a substantial chunk of this support and challenge, through our regional networks for local authority managers and staff, responsive programmes of events and workshops for the youth work field, good practice guidance, focus on young people’s voice and influence, and individualised work with local authorities to help them develop in the areas they identify as priorities. Working with key national partners, we can make sure not only that regions can interpret national guidance for their local circumstances, but also that local issues and developments inform national initiatives and guidance.
I’m glad that we responded to DfE’s consultation on the statutory guidance – it feels as though we have had some influence on the final document. Now all we have to do is try to make sure it is implemented locally!
Learning South West