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Our letter to the Education Secretary, and why we need YOUR help!

*Seany**Seany* Deactivated Posts: 51 Boards Initiate
Hi guys,
Long post here here, but please do read it as it's really important!

The Background
Some of you may have seen or heard Michael Gove’s comments at the recent Education Select Committee where he indicated the Government’s intention to give the responsibility for youth policy to local authorities rather than central Government.
Government holds 'select committees' on a variety of different topics, and their purpose is to make sure that various different departments (in this case, the Department for Education) are spending money wisely, implementing policies sensibly and explaining their policies clearly.

What does it mean?
As you can imagine, youth policy is a large policy area. It's currently decided on nationally because many of the service providers and organisations that work within it are national organisations, and there needs to be consistency across the country in how young people are treated and engaged with. Moving these decisions to local authorities (ie - local councils) means that different areas may do things very differently which makes it very difficult to co-ordinate a fair and effective approach to young people's rights, services and levels of involvement in decisions.
Aside from this, we're worried that government delegating youth policy to local authorities means that they don't see it as important enough to be a national issue.
YouthNet, along with many other organisations across the youth charity sector, are concerned about the impact that this will have on young people. YouthNet’s Chief Executive, Emma Thomas, has contributed to and signed a letter in response which you can see on our website.

We need you!
It's all very well for us to respond to these issues, but what really matters is how you feel about it - after all, the only reason we exist is for you guys. So, what we want to do is post another letter to the Education Secretary, but this time it'll be from young people - voicing their concerns. We'd like you to sign it and help us put it together.
So, we are also putting together two questions to ask young people to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to so we can provide Government with some simple statistics to show how young people feel - these will help us to shape how the letter from young people will look.

The first question could be along the lines of ‘Do you feel Government do enough to support young people?’ or 'Do you think youth policy should be also be a priority for national government, much like health, employment, policing, and other areas government deals with?'

The second, however, is up for grabs and we want you to help shape it. What do you want to make sure Government know about? What other question would you pose to your peers to find out how they are feeling? Think about simple questions that you think other young people will understand and be able to give a yes/no answer to.

We have a very tight turnaround on this, so if you could respond by the end of Thursday 31st Jan we would be really grateful.


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    How does it feel knowing you are reviled and are making the country worse?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Do you think that the country that came two places below the UK in the last PISA Study is a good model for the British education system, when the country next door (Finland) has come 1st or 2nd in pretty much every international education study for the past decade?

    A bit too loaded perhaps? Still true though.

    But yeah, maybe something about the concept of free schools, which AFAIC are the biggest education issue today.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Totally disagree with your central proposal that it is bad to decentralise, different places doing things differently is good because it allows them to adapt to suit local circumstances and they're just as likely (or not) to see it as an important issue as central Government
  • **helen****helen** Deactivated Posts: 9,235 Supreme Poster
    Just to clarify, we're asking for questions to ask young people more so than questions to ask the Government :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Do you think there should be a requirement for the Education Secretary to have experience working in an educational setting?
  • *Seany**Seany* Deactivated Posts: 51 Boards Initiate
    Here's the letter being drafted by young people at UK Youth

    Firstly, thanks to those of you who replied above. I appreciate the deadline was really tight, but it's always useful to hear your thoughts.

    Secondly, below is the letter that's been drafted with the input from young people across the charity youth sector - we'd like to know if you want to make any changes to it, and what those changes would be - please leave your comments and suggestions below. Please do this by 6pm on Monday 4th Feb!

    Thirdly, the questions we wanted to ask have now been drafted up and are in this poll. We'll use the results from it to insert into the letter. Please fill out the survey by 6pm on Wednesday 6th Feb. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get as many responses as possible, so please also get your friends or other young people between 11 and 25 that you know. You can find the survey here.

    I've already made a few suggestions on improvements to the letter at our end (mainly grammar!), so don't be afraid to be critical of it if you think it needs improving.

    Dear Secretary of State,

    As young people who attend, work or volunteer with local youth projects across England, we are writing in response to the comments you made in your evidence to the Education Select Committee, stating that “youth policy is a priority for local government and not central government”. This is alarming for all of us, as not only could it put our futures at risk, but also the futures of younger generations.

    We understand that local government has its role to play in how it allocates local resources, and how much goes towards the provision of youth services. However, without central Government to establish a framework to guide this, as it does with other aspects of policy, there is greater likelihood of young people facing gaps in provision which could impede their successful transition to adulthood. As identified and pledged in the Government’s publication of Positive for Youth, cross-governmental support to young people is essential in enabling this.

    A recent survey we did asking x number of young people their views found that x% of young people feel the government does not do enough etc – to be added following final results.

    Despite your view that “every child arrives at and spends their time in school fulfilled, happy and learning” this is not always the case. Not everyone enjoys their time at school, whether it is because they’re being bullied or because their preferred learning style does not match that of the National Curriculum. DfE data shows that in 2010/11 only 34.6% of pupils who are on free school meals – meaning their families earn less than £16,000 a year – obtained five A*-C grades, including English and Maths; and overall only 58.6% of pupils achieved this. These young people rely on the support they receive outside the classroom to guide them, and its value is no less than that of mainstream education.

    Good youth clubs and community projects are a pillar of their community, keeping children and young people off the streets and offering them support in a safe and stimulating environment which they themselves choose to go. Youth workers are often more trusted by teenagers than their teachers due to their tailored support style, and many even act as positive role models – for some these may be the only trusted adults that they can talk to.

    We are not saying that schools aren’t important. But young people need both, and for some of us, youth clubs have offered a life line.

    On your website it says that you are committed to “helping children from less privileged backgrounds to maximise their potential”. However, it seems that your understanding of the impact that informal education can have on this largely otherwise disengaged group is very limited.

    We therefore would like to invite you to come along and see a youth project in action. Recent data shows that you have in fact not been out to visit such a project since your appointment in 2010. We hope to help you understand why we and scores of other young people choose to go to youth clubs, its continued value, and its impact on their positive personal and social development.

    Appreciating that you are a very busy man, we’d also welcome the opportunity to share our views with you at a time and place that suits.
    Yours sincerely,
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Not that I really agree, but a few comments

    1) You put your futures first and only then mention what he's interested in (the future generations). That makes them seem an add-on to your vested interest and DfES isn't really interested in your interests (unless you're a teacher) (or alternatively just make the letter from young people who attend and not the workers)

    2) I'd be much more positive about local Government; it does much more than allocate resources, try and appear like you're agreeing with the thrust of his reforms and you're just suggesting some useful tweaks that make it work better.

    3) personally I'm really cynical about surveys done by the organisation (where they can set the question and basically ask a mate to fill in a form)

    4) I think that ?every child arrives at and spends their time in school fulfilled, happy and learning? seems a misreading of his view. A quick google search shows that it's more his ambition than his belief. Common sense suggests that if he did believe that he wouldn't be putting in place his reforms. Taking an SoS out of context isn;t the way to his Civil Sevant's hearts

    5) In fact I'd drop the entire bit on schools attainment, which only seems to be in to show you can use the internet to search basic stats

    6) The bit on youth clubs is fine, but it doesn't really give me any compelling reason why Government should be in the lead rather than local Government (in fact none of it does)

    7) You called his understanding limited (which is Civil Service code for thick as pig shit) and come over as totally condescending, which is not the way to get a very very senior politician on side.

    8) The bit about recent data shows is also totally over the top - I assume you mean there's been some Parly Question (unless you have access to his diary), but better to say something like 'We understand that you haven't had time in your busy schedule to visit a youth project' which doesn't sound so pompus. Also try and be more specific, suggest something specific (but not a date), though leaving it open to do something else. You may get extra kudos if its in his constituency (but sometimes not, I worked for one Minister who regarded it as a transparent attempt to play on her heartstrings)
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