Youth policy is to move to the heart of Government, but will it still be front of mind for those in education?
Young people are negotiating the transition to adulthood and independence in an increasingly complex and challenging world. To be successful our young people need to be resilient and empowered: actively navigating their role through these choices. As a society we need to find new ways to support them in the face of dramatic funding squeezes, collaborating where possible to make best use of resources.
This week it was announced that responsibility for co-ordinating youth policy is to move from the Department for Education to the heart of Government, where it will be led by the Cabinet Office.
This move sends a positive message from across government that all departments should listen to, and work with, young people. According to current government policy (Positive for Youth) youth policy is a matter for local government. But it’s clear that co-ordinating this involvement centrally will mean that initiatives complement each other to improve outcomes for young people: increased access to projects and services that support their personal and social development ; improved influence on services that affect them; improved educational choice and attainment; raised aspirations; and fulfilling and rewarding employment.
The move to the Cabinet Office makes sense in the light of the fact that the Government’s successful pilots of the National Citizenship Service have been hosted there for two years, with expansion on the horizon. The Cabinet Office has a commitment to furthering social engagement and citizenship, and it seems likely that this will be an increased focus for youth policy over the coming years, with attention focused on ways to increase young people’s participation in services that affect them, from how their school or college is run, to questions of national democracy.
The newly launched Campaign for Youth Social Action has a key role to play in opening this focus to a much larger pool of young people.
The campaign’s long term goal is to increase the number and quality of social action opportunities so that 50% of young people undertake “practical action in the service of others” by 2020. By drawing together and focusing attention on all the opportunities on offer, social action can become a prominent part of youth culture in the UK.
The Young Foundation played a central role in developing an outcomes framework for youth social action on behalf of the Cabinet Office, which will now be trialled by projects funded under the newly announced Youth Social Action Fund.
To do this we drew on the 2012 Framework of Outcomes for Young People we developed on behalf of the Catalyst consortium, which highlighted the fundamental importance of social and emotional capabilities to the achievement of all other outcomes for all young people.
The Government’s own review of ‘Positive for Youth’ highlights that the Outcomes Framework collated the evidence for the significance of personal and social development to wider outcomes for young people – including education and employment outcomes.
Our own work shows that, without essential personal and social capabilities such as communication skills, self determination, and resilience, young people cannot progress onto the outcomes we and they all want, including good exam results and job success.
So, although the responsibility of youth policy now moves to the Cabinet office, we hope that the Department for Education will continue to keep it very much in mind.