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16 May 2014

Friday 16 May 2014

Across London Youth’s network of more than 400 members, we see strong examples of youth clubs in the capital providing some form of structured learning.

However, while schools have the institutional frameworks to demonstrate their outcomes quality and their comparability to other schools (via exams and Ofsted for example), youth organisations do not. For this reason it’s often been a struggle to prove the value which informal learning can add to a young person’s development and performance in school and later employment.

That’s why we’re glad to now see recognition of youth work within the new statutory guidance published by the Department for Education for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff on Careers guidance and inspiration in schools (April 2014).

The guidance details how schools should carry out their duties in relation to advice and guidance; which in this context refers to a coherent programme of activities that inform, inspire and motivate young people, preparing them for work and helping them to understand where different education and training choices could take them in the future.

Of particular interest to us here at London Youth was the addition of the following new responsibility:

"Schools should ensure that all students are aware of out of school opportunities that could help them with their career aspirations, such as the National Citizen Service and other voluntary and community activities."

It’s positive that the government is recognising the part that the sector can play in developing young people’s aspirations, and their employability skills. Voluntary and community activities are highlighted alongside employer engagement as a focus for school leaders, and this surely presents an opportunity for us and our members to open up new conversations with schools about the benefits of what we deliver; both outside of the curriculum, but also in some cases, as commissioned parts of it.

In September 2013, Ofsted published a thematic review assessing the progress schools were making against their duty to secure independent careers guidance and this concluded that the majority need to do more to set high expectations for all pupils and provide high quality advice and guidance that motivates them to succeed. Clearly, Ofsted agree that schools can do more and we believe our members can play a significant part in that solution.

Back in June 2013, London Youth teamed up with Ofsted to try and better understand the quality of the contribution that youth clubs make to supporting mainstream educational attainment (and other measures within schools such as behaviour and attendance). Our research found that quality youth clubs working in partnership with schools can help with:

  • Curriculum enhancement
  • Extra-curricular support
  • Broad behavioural support
  • Work readiness and employability
  • Community development

But more importantly, from discussions with youth workers, teachers and others in formal education, it also became clear to us that actually the debate wasn’t about contributions to educational attainment, but was in fact part of a wider question about the role of schools and youth organisations in together supporting broader outcomes for young people.(You can read more about our work with Ofsted in a previous blog written by London Youth’s chief executive, Rosie Ferguson here.)

So what does the new guidance mean for us and our member clubs in practice? Well it’s likely that schools will be looking for ways to demonstrate that they understand best practice in advice and guidance, and are linked into organisations that can provide appropriate interventions for pupils, which presents a great opportunity for us. Some thoughts we’ve had on it include:

  • The guidance specifically references mentoring and coaching – we know that many of our members provide high-quality mentoring programmes and broker relationships with employers for coaching. Asking local schools how what you do can support them in meeting this statutory duty would be a great conversation to have
  • Schools are now tasked with providing “a learning environment that allows and encourages pupils to tackle real life challenges which require them to manage risk, and to develop decision-making, team-building and problem solving skills”. Would your outdoor education and community-based offers tick this box for them?
  • Youth work programmes that offer employability and entrepreneurial skills to young people can be a key component for a good careers education programme

This new guidance is just a first step and is not an obligatory action for all schools to carry out. So London Youth will be finding further ways to share learning and best practice from across our network, so if you have a successful partnership to share, let us know. Just email hello@londonyouth.org.uk.

This blog was written by Steph, our Head of Talent Match London. Talent Match London is delivered by 35 youth organisations working in partnership to support young people who have not been adequately supported during their time in education, and are currently unemployed. It is a youth-led approach that starts with outreach, and offers personalised support for young people to enter fulfilling careers.