Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Posts tagged ‘academies’

Back into the Groove

Courtesy of Jurvetson

Courtesy of Jurvetson

Phew! What a busy summer! I’m now back after a quick holiday refreshed and ready to move forward. It’s time for a number of reviews and evaluations to look at how we might improve and develop the recent activities we’ve been delivering this summer. These kick off this evening with a staff meeting for those involved on the Inspire India programme.

With the start of a new school year I’m involved in consolidating our Service Level Agreements with the new academies in my areas, planning and developing new work and completing some of the ongoing strategy work  I’ve been working on. It all promises to be as exciting and hectic as ever but with new staff now in place I’m looking forward to being able to concentrate on more multi agency developments and less direct operational delivery.

So…..here we go……!

Snowed Under in June!

Courtesy of Wonderlane

Courtesy of Wonderlane

Yep, it’s almost the summer and here I am Snowed Under! Not literally of course! Although there is lots happening here at the moment and I would love to write about it work is so hectic that I’m just keeping on top of it (hopefully) and can’t get the time to actually comment on anything. (I have to have a bit of time out!) Just to give you a taste of life at this end:-

  • I manage 2 District (Operational) areas usually through team leaders who I work with to strategically plan and organise the delivery of all the statutory youth work in the area. However – one has successfully been promoted (congratulations!) and is now joining us on the Senior Management Team and the other is on long term sick leave. In one area one of neighbourhood workers is successfully acting up however in the other I am directly managing the youthwork staff there. They are a great team and the work that is happening in the area is developing all the time.
  • We’ve got summer camps and positive activities programmes for children (8-13yrs) to organise and set up and run however our first plan for doing this has fallen through due to sickness and difficulties recruiting so we are now on about plan D. Exciting but stressful!
  • Inspire India is in full flow (as is our learning curve with regards to this project!) We have 32 targeted young people (16-19yrs) in the process of getting organised to go on a 4 week overseas experience to India at the end of July follwed up by volunteering in their communities for 3 months on their return. We have had parents / guardians / carers information evenings, residential weekends and staff evenings to contend with. This along with supporting the staff is quite hectic!
  • We’ve had a number of operational issues as well as recruitment difficulties with one of our main outdoor centres. This has been well covered by our new DofE, Accreditation and Outdoor Education Manager who has needed a lot of support as they have only just completed their induction. On top of this they have had to (successfully) deal with an AALA Inspection straight away!
  • Tw0 youth wings are on school sites that are going to be Academies at the start of the next school year.   I need to work closely with the new regimes to organise the youth facilities, service level agreements and also a new build on one site.
  • And then there are the ongoing recruitment issues!

In themselves these, coupled with my other areas of work, aren’t complicated to manage or do. I’ve got a great opportunity to get out and see what is happening on the ground and I’m enjoying getting practical.  However the main issue is that the day job of my strategic leads still needs to be covered. I’ve moved from strategic to operational and trying to juggle the 2 is / has been difficult.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting nearer!! I’ve

Courtesy of C.P.Storm

Courtesy of C.P.Storm

appointed a new team leader who will hopefully start at the end of July, the other team leader who has been ill is due to return very soon and we have a new Outdoor Centre Manager! I’ve also booked time out for most of this week to crack some of my policy / papers/ strategic thinking! So, hopefully this blog will resume in the next few weeks……here’s to the summer!

Academies Update

I’ve posted before about the development of Academies and thought I would give an update on how things are progressing. The youth council from the area concerned wrote to Cabinet Members, District and Parish Councillors, youth officers and also their local MP, Tim Loughton to organise a meeting to express their concerns about the lack of planning and potential loss of ‘their’ youth wing. This took place this week and was a real compliment to both them and the staff working with them. They had a number of questions and queries for the invitees which they presented really positively.

Photo courtesy of Colb

Photo courtesy of Colbwt

As mentioned previously, the Academies programme does not allow for capital build of non-educational buildings. This means that there isn’t any funding available for a new youth wing (the old one will be knocked down to make space for the rebuild.) It is the first foray into Academies for both Woodards, the Charitable Trust we are working in partnership with and who will be taking on the running of the Academy, and ourselves. At the moment Cabinet Members have been in touch with Ed Balls Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families to raise the issue with a specific concern about the lack of joined up policy. I think the young people are now looking to write to him directly as well and Tim will also be scheduling some questions.

 

Locally we’re also looking at how we might define ‘Education’ in its broadest sense so that we can include informal education as a potential solution. We also discussed other possible sites with the group although everyone agreed that the school location is the best place in this situation. (more…)

National policy, academies and other thoughts.

Wow! My comment on Hazel Blears blog was acutally read and responded to….how’s that for the power of blogging and social media! Some new Community Power Packs have been launched to support discussion and consultation on the White Paper which could be useful for supporting you to get young people’s views and thoughts and their involvement in the political process (you may need to adapt them to work with young people as the couple I have read so far tend to brush over young people’s specific involvement.)

Taking about ‘political education’ – one aspect of this or participation or empowerment work that we are currently supporting young people with also leads to me wonder how much consideration is given to joining up policies? Whilst there is a welcome (ish) support for the academies programme in funding new schools the issue is that it is purely about funding new school facilities. In a county where we have a large amount of community provision on school sites this provision is now under threat as the academies programme does not allow for the rebuild of this type of provision. Some of my youth work colleagues are now working in very difficult circumstances to support young people to protest at the potential loss of their ‘youth centre’ due to this programme,whilst protesting locally and empowering the young people to be involved in local district and county council meetings, and using this as a way of teaching them about budgets and how decisions are made about funding programmes at a national level, the young people are working hard together to try and ensure that their view is myplaceheard and that they can be a part of the solution.  For the staff it is difficult as the local authority supports the rebuild (as it understandably ensures some much needed new formal educational faciltities in some areas of high need) and yet there are no funds for any rebuilding of youth provision and they are having to juggle young peoples’ expectations through a period of uncertainty.

Isn’t it ironic that this is happening against the backdrop of Myplace which is aims to deliver world class youth facilities driven by the active participation of young people and their view and needs?!? Whilst the young people in this locality would welcome world class youth facilities they would prefer it even more at the moment not to lose the ones they have just because there is a lack of joined up thinking at a national level!

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