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.
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.
Although there was no specific resolution to the problem there was a commitment from all concerned to ensure that youth provision is not lost in the process. All the young people were proactive in asking questions and chairing the meeting. For this particular group it was also a useful opportunity for them to discover how they were represented right through from local to national politics, although judging from some of their comments I think this is an area we need to provide some more support in. (I feel a trip to London coming on!!!!)
So – a great piece of youth work all in all although we’re still no nearer a solution. I’ve also been wondering if anyone else has been facing similar situations or know of any other people going through the same process. If so…..do get in touch as I feel I could do with picking up some tips!