19 November 2013
Content and more information can be found at guest blog on Ambition website by Chief Executive Rosie Ferguson (http://ambitionuk.org/blog/london-youth-works-with-ofsted/) and Children & Young People Now article by Laura McCardle (http://www.cypnow.co.uk/print_article/cyp/analysis/1140427/expand-youth-schools-study-reveals-value-pupils#)
In June this year, London Youth began working with Ofsted to try and better understand the quality of the contribution that youth clubs make to supporting mainstream educational attainment.
London Youth knew already that many youth organisations do have partnerships with schools, and provide learning opportunities for young people, in both structured and informal ways.
Yet what hadn’t been clear in London at least, is any sense of what this contribution amounts to in practice, and what the learning has been from the range of partnerships and programmes that have developed.
Below are the thoughts of Tony Gallagher, inspector and national lead for youth strategy at Ofsted, on an education youth work project and Ofsted's work with London Youth.
"At Ofsted, we have been running a joint project with London Youth to look at how community projects and youth clubs support young people's personal and social development.
"For 2011's Choosing to Volunteer report, we spoke to many schools and colleges to understand how youth work could be improved and how we could share practical examples of what was working well.
"One college presented an analysis of data for some of the students who volunteered, indicating they enjoyed better success rates compared to those students who did not volunteer.
"Other colleges cited improvement in retention and attendance rates. The evidence from schools and colleges shows that well deployed youth workers bring an alternative face with less formal parameters to education and training provision.
"While the benefits can be cited in much of the work of Ofsted inspections, these benefits are often hard to measure. Youth work organisations operate in an entirely different funding and planning environment, usually short-term and sporadic. The need to raise funds is, in itself, a core aspect of their business.
"This mirrored the findings of the project with London Youth. The London-based youth and community projects spanned volunteering, media, arts, mentoring, uniformed organisations and a mix of centres providing employability projects, open access youth work and advice, support and signposting.
"Many of the youth organisations felt schools and colleges were 'institutionally centred' with many activities focused around term-time.
"One noted: 'August is a vital month to support transitions, especially young people who may become Neet (not in education, employment or training). Our funding contract precludes August.'
"There is also an ever-present danger in downplaying the fact that much high-quality and locally responsive youth work takes place during evenings, weekends and holiday periods.
"With equal justification and frustration, schools and colleges also expressed concern about the need for more 'measurable outcomes'.
"For Ofsted, inspections of schools and colleges are concerned with outcomes for learners and the standards of teaching, learning and assessment. While there is no formal mention of youth work in the common inspection framework, this is an area that Ofsted considers in its inspection handbook for inspectors. When looking at pupils' achievement, Ofsted considers pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
"Inspectors will look at a range of issues, including whether pupils:
- Take part in activities that require social skills
- Gain a well-informed understanding of the options and challenges facing them as they move through the school and on to the next stage of their education and training
- Develop an appreciation of theatre, music, art and literature
- Develop the skills and attitudes to enable them to participate fully and positively in a democratic modern Britain
- Respond positively to a range of artistic, sporting and other cultural opportunities
- Understand and appreciate the range of different cultures within school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life.
"The work of Ofsted and London Youth demonstrates that youth work is a valuable tool in helping pupils engage with the community and develop their personal and social skills.
"Time and time again, we have seen that work experience or voluntary and youth work that forms part of a child's or young person's extra-curricular activity certainly enriches that individual in a way that is sometimes very hard to measure."