A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
We’re just catching our breath here at PYL between events, meetings and report-writing: the new term in the academic year is, for us, the end of Quarter 2 for funded activity, and we are racing to get our activities and outcomes completed, delivered and reported on in the next two weeks.
For us this means delivering a major conference on Raising the Participation Age (of which more later); hosting the London Policy Network for senior managers in the Youth Sector; two separate seminars on different aspects of collaboration, including work with schools; hosting the pan-London Youth Engagement Board and, last but not least, the Network of Regional Youth Work Units.
Most of these have outcomes associated with them, data to be compiled and reports written, for funders, delegates and our membership.
Alongside all of this is the on-going activity that makes up daily life at PYL: supporting existing members and recruiting new ones, dealing with queries, compiling and sending the weekly update, keeping the website up to date, developing new activities to get funded, plus general administration, not to mention this blog entry…
So just in case there were any lingering doubts about the Regional Units being in decline – walk a mile in our shoes!
Raising the Participation Age
In the midst of all of this, there is no doubt that we’ve been engrossed by, and immersed in, Raising the Participation Age (RPA), the major policy initiative that began to take effect from the beginning of September this year.
We were very generously sponsored by the City of London to run a major conference for the Youth sector in London, which was held on 16 September in the gorgeous surroundings of the Livery Hall here at the Guildhall, and which was hugely oversubscribed – unsurprisingly, given the high calibre of the line-up of speakers.
The report on this event will be available in the next week or so (I refer you back to the list of activities above!) but what I want to focus attention on is the relevance of this initiative to all youth organisations, wherever they are and whatever they do.
RPA is not just an education initiative; and it’s certainly not ‘raising the school leaving age’. It does provide an opportunity for youth (work) organisations to show how their work with young people contributes to young people’s successful continuing in education or in employment with training, because willingness to engage requires so much more than five good GCSEs.
The ability to cope with the problems they face outside school or college, their confidence and self-esteem, their developing sense of who they are and where they’d like to be in the future – and all the other outcomes that good youth work supports – contribute significantly. Add high quality careers education, information, advice and guidance to the mix, and there is every chance of young people making positive choices that they can build on for the future.
Advice and guidance
And thinking of CEIAG – there’s a long way to go before we have a consistently good level of service that young people can rely on. Going in the right direction? Careers guidance in schools from September 2012, a report published by Ofsted, found that the arrangements for careers guidance in schools are simply not working well enough.
Three quarters of the schools visited by Ofsted were not implementing their duty to provide impartial careers advice effectively to 14-16 year olds, following the introduction of the new duty in 2012. Very few knew how to provide a service effectively or had the skills and expertise needed to provide a comprehensive service; few had bought in adequate service from external sources.
This must have come as no surprise to many in the youth sector, however patchy the previous Connexions and other CEIAG provision may have been – and there was much excellent practice, certainly to our knowledge in London – there were at least opportunities for young people to meet face to face with an adviser and discuss their needs and wishes. The National Careers Service offers a phone line and website, but this is not adequate in the face of a major initiative like RPA.
Inspiration vision statement: Careers and the government’s response to the Ofsted report were published this month, recognising that much more needs to be done. The statement describes how employers, schools and colleges will work together to inspire young people about the world of work, and to raise their aspirations for learning and career opportunities. The government says it will facilitate this by developing the role of the National Careers Service and revising statutory guidance for schools.
Let’s hope that the inspiration and vision become reality; in the meantime, while the youth sector continues to grapple with how it demonstrates its outcomes, let’s bear in mind that RPA offers a real chance for youth organisations to show their contribution to successful futures for young people.
Strategic Director – Partnership for Young London
Photo credit (top right): bizior photography – http://www.bizior.com