Headlines: July 20th, 2010

Local authorities have made only limited progress in involving voluntary, community and private groups in providing youth services, Ofsted inspectors say in a report today. They have also found that targeted support from councils and their partners is helping to meet the needs of vulnerable young people but a focus on providing services for ‘at risk’ young people risks undermining activities available to all young people.

The report is based on examinations in 11 local areas of progress made in working together by local authorities and support services, including youth offending teams, Connexions, voluntary and community sectors, education welfare officers and substance misuse teams. The Ofsted inspectors say that in the best examples, councils took the lead in shaping youth services, working closely with a range of partners.

The successful authorities are working to engage all young people, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in activities including volunteering, sport, cultural pursuits and youth work. In the period 2007–09, eight of the 11 areas reported a drop in the number of first-time entrants to the criminal justice system and five reported reductions in the numbers of young people who were not in education, employment and training.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said it was good to see vulnerable young people were better supported in most of the areas and it was encouraging to see the value of involving young people in developing services. But she said the new approach was far from embedded. “I am particularly concerned that in some areas the priority given to targeted support for vulnerable individuals and groups appears to be undermining the contribution which youth services should be making to the development of all young people,” she added.