Local authority youth work 2005–08
Engaging young people draws upon evidence from local authority youth services inspections which took place as part of Ofsted’s joint area reviews of children’s and young people’s services from 2005 to 2008. It reports on the quality and impact of youth work. The report tracks recent but early developments in the introduction of integrated youth support.
Age group: 14–19
Published: March 2009
Reference no: 080141
Executive summary 4
Key findings 5
Demonstrating successes 8
Making and maintaining relationships 8
Case studies 9
Young people as active citizens 10
Case studies 10
Young people as risk takers 11
Case studies 11
Moving towards independence 12
Case studies 12
Obstacles to young people’s success 13
The role and influence of youth workers 14
Case study 15
Curriculum – a framework for learning and enjoying 16
Case studies 16
Leadership, management and accountability 17
Strategy and development 18
Case studies 20
Partnership working 21
Performance management 22
Developing an integrated response to young people’s needs 24
Annex A: inspection outcomes 26
Annex B: youth services inspected (September 2005–September 2008) 28
Engaging young people draws upon evidence from the inspections of local authority youth work which took place as part of Ofsted’s joint area reviews of children’s and young people’s services. The report covers the 100 local authorities that were inspected during the period September 2005 to September 2008.1 It illustrates how the best youth work, properly planned and supported, contributes to young people’s broad education, promotes them as active citizens and helps them acquire the wider skills and attributes needed to engage fully in society.
Of the youth services inspected in 2007–08, overall effectiveness was judged good in a higher proportion than in the two previous years. The lack of any inadequate services contrasts favourably with 2005–07. There was, however, one outstanding service in each of the previous years but none in 2007–08.
Inspection evidence from the 100 local authorities demonstrates that effective youth work can make a valuable contribution to young people’s development in very practical ways, such as helping them to make and maintain relationships and become active citizens, as well as supporting them towards independence and building their capacity to assess and take risks safely. Obstacles to achievement identified by inspectors in the local authorities visited included insufficient action by managers to identify and tackle underlying weaknesses in youth work, and workers being insufficiently skilled in key areas of their practice. Professional development for part-time youth support workers, on whom services are highly dependent, was often lacking. Nonetheless, some youth workers were operating in an increasingly diverse range of settings, above and beyond the youth service. The most effective were able to forge strong, trusting and sustained relationships with young people. More broadly, some were successfully carving out a distinct role in their work across youth support agencies. The inspection evidence demonstrated a link between a youth work curriculum with a sound base and good achievement, particularly in work with targeted groups of young people. A well-grounded curriculum also helped promote equality.
In 2007–08, the proportion of services in which leadership and management were judged to be good was greater than in previous years, although none was outstanding. Strengths in leadership and management included the positive contribution made by youth work to corporate aims; effective operational planning that combined national priorities with local needs; a management focus on continual improvement; and the use of youth workers to support consultative processes with young people. In the better