From youth work to youth development. The new government framework for English youth services

transforming youth work

infed archives

In this (2003) piece Mark K. Smith outlines some key lines of critique around the government specification for English youth work; explores the drive to youth development; and argues that there is hope for alternatives. It was first published in Youth and Policy 79.

contents: introduction · some issues and problems · from youth work to youth development · being hopeful · in conclusion · references · how to cite this piece

[page 46] Government concern to ‘transform’ English youth work (DfES, 2002) provides further evidence, if we needed it, of the extent to which managerial and bureaucratic thinking, and the ideologies of market economics have come to dominate politics and policy. As Rowan Williams (2002) has argued, government has become increasingly technocratic and oriented to voters as consumers. Unfortunately, the vision of this market state ‘has nothing to say about shared humanity and the hard labour of creating and keeping going a shared world of values’. This has profound implications for youth work and youth services. English youth work – at least the portion that Government can influence – is to be moulded to fall in line with the Connexions agenda and its focus on keeping and reconnecting young people with schooling, training and employment (DfEE 2001; DfES 2002). In the new specification, Transforming Youth Work – resourcing excellent youth services (DfES 2002), we see a push towards ‘delivery’, accreditation, individualisation and targeting, and to a way of working that is very close to conventional North American approaches to youth development. To ensure compliance the framework feeds into Ofsted’s Inspection Framework for Youth Work, and the central monitoring of youth services through action plans and the like. In this article I want to outline some key lines of critique around the specification; explore the drive to youth development; and argue that there is hope for alternatives.

Some issues and problems

As I have argued elsewhere (Smith, 2002a) a number of lines of critique can be developed around this new framework. Here I want to highlight and summarize six.

Centralisation. While there is talk of local youth services setting their own curriculum and developing their own plans, one of the inescapable features of the new framework is that they have to address centrally defined targets and work within the Connexions strategy. This, augmented by an increased emphasis on central monitoring, means there has been a shift in power to the centre in the governance of youth services. It will have an impact on the degree of freedom that state-employed and state-funded youth workers have to respond to the needs and wishes of the young people they encounter. If young people (in the 1 3-19 age range, for example) do not fit into the particular target categories identified by the Government they are much less likely to be worked with. If they have no wish to participate in programmes that lead to accreditation (the specification requires that 60 per cent of those worked with in the 13-19 age range attain some sort of ‘accredited outcome’), workers are likely [page 47] to be under pressure to either find other young people or to push people into activities that can be accredited. Some may try to ‘work the system’ and manipulate participation figures and data in order to ensure that youth services are not viewed as ‘failing’.

Targeting. The specification runs in line with early government documents (DfEE 2000, DfEE, 2001) in placing an emphasis on working with young people at risk (defined as those assessed as not in education, employment or training [NEET] or who are at risk of, or already fall into the following categories: teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcohol or substance abuse or offending). There are also specific targets and performance indicators linked to work with these groups.

When set in the context of the overall Connexions strategy we can see that there is an important reorientation of work within youth services, It builds on movements that have been occurring since the late 1970s (and the shift to issue-based work) and entails a significantly increased emphasis on surveillance and control. In this there is an obvious focus on particular groupings as well as a more general monitoring of all young people via the Connexions database. For youth workers and informal educators there are a number of problems. First, there are issues around how they can justify work with people who do not fit into the government’s preferred categories. We know from the experience of other target-driven policies (such as in schooling) that work becomes narrowed and there are considerable pressures to direct resources to the attainment of targets. Second, the focus on ‘at-risk’ young people can lead to stigmatisation of what become more recognizable groups. Third, the shift of resources away from other groups and activities involves a movement away from might be described as social capital building towards a more individualised social pathology.

The focus on accreditation. The requirement in the new framework that 60 per cent of young people worked with in the 13-19 age range must ‘undergo personal and social development which results in an accredited outcome’ has far-reaching implications. It alters the focus of activity in a way that undermines the informal and convivial nature of youth work. Alongside this has also come an emphasis on gaining competencies (particular skills) rather than competence (the ability to live life well). Competence is something more than a collection of competencies (Hyland, 1994). Workers will be under pressure to look to those activities that have an obvious outcome rather than having faith in the benefits of building relationships, process and relationship itself (see below). We are also likely to see a further increase in ‘two bit’ certification – the giving of awards and certificates of little worth and meaning.

Alongside an increased emphasis on curriculum in the specification (and that by definition takes much of youth work out of the category of informal education which is conversation-based) there is a clear alignment of work in youth services [page 48] with the sort of disposition usually associated with schooling. The specification substantially increases the pressure to formalise the tasks of workers within youth services and to take them away from the sorts of open-ended conversations, activities and relationships that defined the work in much of the twentieth century. The overall result is an alteration in the balance of work within youth services between the formal and the informal.

Delivery rather than relationship. Organising work around concepts like outcome, curriculum and issue means there is a danger of overlooking what lies at the heart of youth work. Primarily, workers face losing ‘relationship‘ as a defining feature of their practice. The pressures around the meeting of targets in other sectors have meant a reduction in the amount of freewheeling time that practitioners are able to spend with people. A classic example here has been the experience of teachers in the classroom. The same mix of curriculum imposition, targets, performance indicators, inspection and accreditation (exam success) has led to a narrowing of focus within school classrooms and a declining readiness on the part of teachers to engage with young people as people and to build meaningful relationships with them. Indeed, the pressure in this direction has led to schools employing and using youth workers and informal educators to lessen the impact of these shifts and to ensure that relationships between young people and adults in schools can retain the possibility of some depth.

The problem that workers face isn’t only about the amount of time they are able to devote to relationship, it is the way their work is increasingly framed. Education and the work of youth services are being commodified. In the 1980s and early 1990s this movement was partly carried forward by the rise of managerialism in many ‘western’ education systems. Those in authority were encouraged and trained to see themselves as managers, and to reframe the problems of education as exercises in delivering the ‘right outcomes’. This has meant that schools and youth work agencies have had to market their activities and to develop their own ‘brands’. They have sold ‘the learning experience’ and the particular qualities of their institution in order to get the money they need to survive. Complex processes have been reduced to easily identified packages; philosophies to sound bites; and young people and their parents become ‘consumers’ (Jeffs and Smith, 2002). The overall result has been a drive towards to the achievement of specified outcomes, the adoption of standardised teaching models and a failure to adequately question what is going on. There are now serious questions as to whether schools are engaged in what can rightfully be called ‘education’ (Maclntrye, 2002).

Individualisation. Within government policies there has been a growing focus upon targeting interventions at named individuals – we can see this in some of the activities of youth workers within the new community schools, of learning mentors [page 49] within the Safer Cities Initiative in England and of personal advisers within the Connexions Service. Essentially a form of case management is seen as the central way of working in this area (Jeffs and Smith, 2002). People are identified who are thought to be in need of intervention so that they may take up education, training or work. Action programmes are devised and implemented. Programmes are then assessed on whether these named individuals return to learning or enter work (rather than on any contribution made to the quality of civic life, personal flourishing or social relationships that arise out of the process). While this process predates the Connexions strategy, it has been accelerated by it and taken a new twist. The personal adviser function has already moved some youth workers further towards the territory traditionally occupied by social workers, the Transforming youth work specification also pulls them in the direction of schooling.

Youth services have largely lost faith in association – one of the three central features of youth work identified by the Albemarle Report (1960). Perhaps the most visible sign of this has been the movement away from club into more task-focused work. As a result, there has been an important shift in group work undertaken by workers. It has become less oriented to the needs and processes of the group (or club or unit) as a whole and instead focused on the achievement of learning that benefited individuals. In other words, it had lost much of its communal quality and emphasis on club life (see Robertson, 2000; Smith, 2001; and Jeffs and Smith, 2002). This shift has connected with wider changes linked to globalization and the emergence of the ‘risk society’ (Beck, 1992) and the movements charted by Robert Putnam (2000) and others away from civic participation. However, rather than appreciating the significant costs to local communities, groups and to individuals in these changes, youth services and many youth work agencies have simply gone with the tide. The alternative course, trying to build defences around, and promote, community and association has not been taken by most agencies and services. The result has been a sharpening orientation to young people as individual consumers of a service rather than the creators of groups and activities.

Bureaucratisation: For some years the adoption of so-called ‘professionalism’ has contributed to an embracing of a bureaucratic orientation. A central aspect of this has been the dominance of what is ‘correct’ rather than what is ‘right’ or ‘good’. Youth workers have increasingly submitted to policies and procedures that place their safety first and cut the risk of litigation and disciplinary action, rather than attending to what is good for the actual people involved. At one level the reasons for this are obvious. Issues around safety in minibuses and on trips and activities, and concerns around child protection require careful attention and inevitably lead to the imposition or adoption of rules and procedures. However, the policies that [page 50] result can often tend to fail to give proper space to taking account of the particular circumstances, and to undermine key aspects of youth work (e.g. around spontaneity and informality). Alongside this there has been a growing marginalisation of the role of the volunteer in some services. The emphasis on policy and procedure and upon professional language and competence has worked to devalue their contribution.

Within recent New Labour policy initiatives there has been additional pressures towards bureaucratisation in the shape of ‘joined-up’ thinking and the surveillance and control of individuals. The amount of record keeping on individuals has increased significantly (see Jeffs and Smith, 2001). In the new specification for youth services, for example, there is a raft of new requirements around monitoring and evaluation, and initiatives such as the youth service questionnaire. Services will have to demonstrate that 70 per cent of those participating have expressed satisfaction with the service, for example (DfES, 2002: 16). One of the largest increases in bureaucratic activity brought about by the new specification will be in the necessity of keeping and processing the records necessary to evidence and accredit learning. The requirement that 60 per cent of young people worked with in the 13-19 age range must ‘undergo personal and social development which results in an accredited outcome’ (op. cit.) will bring about an explosion in paperwork. Full-time workers within local youth services already spend a relatively large proportion of their time in administrative activity. They are likely to spend even more in ‘transformed’ youth services.

From youth work to youth development

The scale of the shifts, for example towards accreditation and curriculum delivery, has tipped the balance away from the orientations and practices that have been central to the development of youth work. As Heather Smith (2002) has argued, the form that professionalisation has taken within youth work, combined with these sorts of pressures on practice, has seriously undermined the potential to form and sustain authentic relationships in youth work. An immediate question is whether the government specification for the work of English youth services can meaningfully be described as youth work.

When we come to examine the dominant discourses of youth work in the twentieth century five key elements appear with some regularity (Smith, 1999, 2002b). These are that youth work involves:

  • Focusing on young people.
  • Emphasising voluntary participation and relationship.
  • Committing to association.
  • Being friendly and informal, and acting with integrity [page 51]
  • Being concerned with the education and, more broadly, the welfare of young people.

The Connexions agenda and the new specification for English youth services involve a rather different set of orientations. There has been a shift from voluntary participation to more coercive forms; from association to individualised activity; from education to case management (and not even casework); and from informal to formal and bureaucratic relationships (Jeffs and Smith, 2002). Significantly, the new targets surrounding accreditation will inevitably accelerate the movement away from informal education towards formal education, formation and training. The overall effect is a radical alteration of the shape of work within youth services. Jobs may involve some youth work – but they are increasingly becoming something else. Perhaps the best way of characterising it, for at least work with 13-19 year olds, is youth development.

While there is considerable confusion around the term ‘youth development’ and something of a tendency in the United States for it to be used as a ‘catch-all’ for various forms of youth-related service (see Delgado, 2002), some fairly distinctive traditions of practice have emerged over the thirty years or so that the term has been in professionalised usage. However, there is a strong problem-orientation in much of the discussion of practice and recourse to programmatic activity and competence. For example, the National Youth Development Center defines youth development as, ‘A process which prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent’ (1998:1). In the more recent literature (following Pittman, 1991 and others) much is made of ‘positive youth development’ and of viewing young people as partners in the work rather than as being problematic and in deficit. For example, the National Youth Development Center, again, suggests that ‘positive youth development’ addresses the broader developmental needs of youth ‘in contrast to deficit-based models which focus solely on youth problems’. The discourse of youth development, positive or not, has been part of attempts to advocate and professionalise youth services in the United States. It has often played into governmental concerns about ‘at risk youth’ and has set itself apart from the more associational forms of language and practice within traditional youth-serving organisations such as the YMCA, boys and girls clubs, the Boy Scouts and settlement houses (Delgado 2002: 34).

The language and direction of much of the Connexions and Transforming Youth Work agenda displays a marked similarity with ‘conventional views’ of youth development. They both focus, in practice, ‘almost exclusively on the individual’ [page 52] (Degado, 2002: 48). They both utilise what is, essentially, a deficit paradigm. The Connexions strategy, like conventional youth development, broadly follows a public health model that ‘identifies, isolates, and then treats the subject in order to restore him or her to good health, meaning adjustment to the dominant culture’ (Lane, 1996: 17). The concern to keep young people in, or return them to, ‘good shape’ in the first Transforming Youth Work paper (DfEE, 2001), the particular focus on personal and social development in the second (DfES, 2002), and the assessment model utilised and promoted by the Connexions Service play strongly into a focus on the sort of ‘at risk’ indicators that run through much of the youth development literature (see, for example, Saito’s 1995 discussion). The emphases in conventional youth development on organised and ‘progressive’ activity, on building relevant ‘youth competencies’ and on outcome (National Assembly, 1994) are in line with the new English requirements for curricula and accredited outcomes. When these elements are taken together there appears to be is a strong case for viewing the new specification for youth services (DfES, 2002) as a vehicle for the promotion of a problem-oriented version of youth development.

This emphasis on youth development and the concentration on securing specified changes in the behaviour of targeted groups of young people provide a rationale for the repositioning of youth services that has been taking place in the light of the Connexions strategy. Youth work has traditionally operated in the ‘middle territory’ between social work and teaching (Kornbeck, 2002: 49). Within the Connexions strategy local youth services are losing this distinctive position. The redefinition of youth work as youth development allows services to make sense of the movement of some of their workers into personal adviser roles, and others into development worker roles that resonate with formal education and training. Youth development can embrace both the Connexions personal adviser role and the personal and social development role of the development worker.

transforming youth work

[page 53] The embracing of what is, essentially, a youth development paradigm allows youth services to move from the margins of social work and schooling into the mainstream. This has been welcomed by many within youth services who interpret it as recognition of their work and a firming up of their role. However, as we have seen, it entails a change from the practices, processes and orientation of what we have come to know as youth work – and in the way that workers will be perceived by young people and others in local communities. There is no distinctive place in this for youth work as we have come to know it. Pockets of wisdom and practice might seep into the new format but they will be dominated by the language and practice of these other traditions. As a result, the identity of workers within local youth and Connexions services will change. The personal adviser role that a significant number of workers are now trying to make sense of is different from that of the youth worker. It draws upon practice wisdom and theory of assessment and intervention most commonly found within the case management traditions associated with social work (Kornbeck, 2002). In a similar way, the professional identity of many other workers will become increasingly wrapped up with those of trainers, teachers and personal development practitioners within formal education. Significantly, though, the notion of youth development provides a focus, language and orientation that allow the personal adviser role and the development and training role to meet. They become two sides of the same coin.

A further implication of the shift is that the freedom to engage in relational, associational and more open-ended forms of youth work within state youth services, and within agencies heavily dependent upon the state for funding, will be further curtailed. As we have already noted, a growing proportion of many youth workers’ time has been eaten up by increased paperwork, the management of staff and in ‘co-ordinating’ activity. Not only will this process be accelerated, but the fundamentals of youth work will be further eroded. Workers within local youth services will have their work cut out to maintain and develop youth work based around relationship, conversation and association. Some space will no doubt be found, but direct youth work will be such a small part of many state workers’ practice (and of many of those in receipt of significant state funding) that it will be difficult to describe their overall role as youth work anymore. Youth development workers may be a more accurate description – as some agencies have begun to recognise.

There is also likely to be a growing tension between conventional and more positive or community-oriented approaches to youth development within the strategy. Many of those welcoming the new specification within youth services have taken on good faith the various declarations concerning ‘youth work values and methods’ in the Transforming Youth Work documents. Reading them, it is fairly easy to be [page 54] lulled into the belief that the Government has recognised the worth of what in the United States could be termed a positive youth development agenda. However, when we come to examine the actual services that are required to be ‘delivered’ there is a very clear orientation to work with those deemed to be ‘at risk’, and to the offering of accredited ‘personal and social development opportunities’ (DfES, 2002: 16-17). There is little or no recognition of the time involved in, the benefits, and the open-ended nature of, community-based learning (in contrast to some of the guidance appearing in Scotland e.g. Scottish Executive, 2003). Neither youth work, nor ‘positive’ youth development, can thrive in the sort of target-driven culture that permeates the Connexions strategy in England.

Being hopeful

One of the outcomes of the Connexions strategy, and the move into youth development from youth work by local youth services, is that we can engage in a more productive debate around the nature and direction of work with young people. Broadly, in the immediate future, youth work with its relational and convivial nature is more likely to flourish in non- or limited-state funded organisations. These include churches and religious bodies, community-based projects and groups, and older youth movements. Youth development (sometimes misleadingly called ‘youth work’) largely will be the province of state-funded services and agencies, and will become increasingly professionalised and specialised. In part as a reaction to the narrowness of the emerging youth development agenda, and what was seen as a lack of appropriate focus in more open forms of youth work, a distinctive set of practices around youth ministry has also developed to supplement Christian youth work, often drawing on North American sources (see Doyle and Smith, forthcoming). This is likely to become more of a force in debates as work develops. The number of workers engaged full-time in church-based youth work and youth ministry has, for some years, exceeded the number employed in local government youth services (Brierley’s [2000] study suggests that there were over 7000 full-time workers in churches in 1998). The shape of work is altering in ways that those who focus on Transforming Youth Work (DfEE, 2001; DfES, 2002) can easily miss or underestimate.

It is reasonable to assume that there will be a growing divide between what we can now name as ‘youth development’ work and youth work. Tom Wylie (2003), the head of the English National Youth Agency, has argued that the new specification for youth services provides:

a subtle and robust framework which sets out the legal duty on local authorities to secure an adequate and sufficient Youth Service, in partnership with the voluntary sector and young people themselves. It specifies standards [page 55] and levels of provision which have to be met everywhere in England by 2005. It identifies a core target age group and other potential groups outside the core. It sets out performance indicators and arrangements for quality assurance, backed up by external inspection. It requires each local authority to have a clear curriculum statement which identifies how youth work promotes and records the personal and social development of young people. Identifying the roles of youth workers and those who manage them, it requires employers to ensure that their staff has an entitlement to continuing professional development and a specified budget for training. (Wylie, 2003)

He has further suggested that those who argue against this view are somehow stuck in the past; that the advocacy of ‘informal and convivial work’ is utopian, and that those who believe that government – any government – is going to pay for such work are ‘not operating in the same country as I am’. The line being drawn here is between those who draw on technocratic and bureaucratic concerns, and those who approach the debate from bases in political, religious and social movements. Another way of framing this is as a divide between professionalisation and calling (Doyle 1999). The significance for our purpose here lies in the extent to which the latter entails an orientation to the good, and the former a concern with policy and the correct.

Many within education and welfare are pessimistic about their work and worn down by governmental intervention and bureaucratic requirements. As David Halpin (2003) has pointed out, there is a fundamental need to ‘remoralise’ educational practice – to place an understanding of the good, and an orientation to love at its centre. He argues that teaching (and education generally) is built on hope:

that is, on the possibility that it will realise improvement of one kind or another; that being hopeful as a teacher facilitates innovation and an earnestness to do well in one’s work; and that hope is a relational construct which in the education context requires teachers to look for and build up the ‘Good’ in their students. (2002: 30)

Those of a technocratic bent may well describe such talk of hope and love as utopian or unprofessional – and conclude that governments will not want to pay for such work. Others, perhaps steeped in a religious or social movement’s anticipation of a better future may sense that utopian thinking provides us with a ‘distinctive vocabulary of hope’ and ‘an antidote to cultural pessimism and an alternative to currently fashionable narratives of professional decline’ (ibid.: 44). Having a vision [page 56] of what might be possible, and looking to what is good rather than correct, allows youth workers to engage authentically as people with others. As Parker J. Palmer (1998: 10) has put it, ‘good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher’.

We can predict that the current set of initiatives linked to Connexions will fail either to further economic growth or well-being, in any substantial way. The specification stands in a depressingly long line of political interventions in this area. As Alison Wolf (2002: xiii) has shown in her analysis, the ‘more overtly and more directly politicians attempt to organise education for economic ends, the higher the likelihood of waste and disappointment’. As for well-being, Robert E. Lane (2000) has conclusively demonstrated that once a certain level of wealth and income has been achieved, there is a significant tailing-off of happiness. In market democracies such as Britain and the USA there is now considerable evidence that unhappiness has risen as real income has grown. Interventions such as the Connexions strategy may alter the position of a very small group of people – but they do nothing to alter the fundamental problem of growing inequalities in income (IDS, 2003), and fail, in any real way, to address the fundamental issue of what makes for happiness and human flourishing.

But we can be hopeful. While Transforming Youth Work and the Connexions agenda may be missing the mark, there remains a large amount of youth work – largely within faith-based organisations, community groups and groups associated with social movements – that does not. According to Lane (2000), Putnam (2000) and a growing group of other analysts, friendship, association and a good ‘family life’ are what make for happiness. ‘Companionship’, Lane (2000: 88) has commented, ‘is almost a condition of happiness’. However, for a number of complex reasons, people do not generally know the causes of their well-being and will often confuse increased consumption, and the possession of things, with happiness (ibid.: 325). It is here that the traditional concerns of youth work with relationships, association and character come into their own. People can benefit from help and encouragement to explore what constitutes human flourishing. Some, like Kerry Young (1999: 120) would argue that the purpose of youth work is to engage with young people in the task of moral philosophising, ‘through which they can make sense of themselves and the world’. Many others working in religious or social movement settings would be happy with the old McNair Report characterisation of the youth worker as a ‘guide, philosopher and friend to young people’ (1944: 103).

We have a large amount of evidence with regard to how the experience of friendship and associational life can significantly alter how people feel about their lives and the world. We know, for example, that joining in with the life of a club can significantly [page 57] extend an individual’s life expectancy and sense of well-being (Putnam 2000: 326-335). Putnam’s discussion of these issues via the notion of social capital provides youth workers with a powerful rationale for their activities. Their paradigmatic working environment is the group, club or organisation – and these are central to the fostering of social capital within communities. They are the central means of cultivating social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness. His work also provides a case against those who want to target work towards those who present the most significant problems and tie youth workers’ activities to the achievement of specific outcomes in individuals to further social cohesion and order. Crime can be reduced, educational achievement enhanced and better health fostered through the strengthening of social capital Putnam argues. Significantly this entails working across communities – and in particular sustaining the commitment and capacities already involved in churches, other religious organisations, community organisations and enthusiast groups, and encouraging those on the cusp of being actively involved. The majority of the people we are talking about here cannot be classified as suffering from multiple disadvantage, will not be engaged in criminal activity, and will be (or have been) engaged with education systems and/or the world of work. In other words, open and generic work needs to be afforded a far higher priority – and so-called ‘issue-based’ work needs to be more closely interrogated as to the benefits it brings. Excellent youth work involves living, working for, and inviting people to share, the good life.

In conclusion

The shape of services for, and work with, young people over the next few years now seems clear. There will be a growing division between those concerned with youth development and those interested in the relational and associational life of youth work. This division will largely follow institutional lines with local and national state youth service organisations (and those tied to them significantly by funding) focusing on youth development; religious organisations, largely non-state funded youth movements and community groups looking to youth work. There will also be a growing gulf in language and orientation – with a more technical and professionalised discourse being allied to youth development.

In the short run government will, on the whole, back youth development – but there will be significant exceptions. One effect of programmes like New Deal for Communities, and developments in social housing such as tenant management organisations (Cairncross et al, 2002), appears to be a growth in the numbers of community groups locally who want to set up and run youth groups – and money has flowed in their direction. Such ‘organic youth work’ sits quite firmly within what can be called the ‘social and leisure tradition’ and has some emphasis on [page 58] mutual aid, friendship and association (Smith, 1988: 48-64). There has also been some significant funding given to local non-governmental agencies around the cultivation of social capital that has found its way into youth work initiatives. In the longer run the picture may well be different. As centralised initiatives in education and welfare fail to achieve targets, and people remain dissatisfied with what is happening; and as critiques of the ‘received truths and clichés’ (Wolf, 2002: 256) that constitute government policy in this area mount up, there will be pressure to change. Politicians may even discover that education, and youth work and youth development, have purposes other than to promote economic growth. As for those steadily working away in religious institutions, older youth movements and in community-based youth groups – there will be pressures to adopt a stronger focus on youth development. But surely many will be able to resist the pressure to copy state-sponsored work and speak the language of faith, hope and love.


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Smith, H. (2002) ‘Seeking out the gift of authenticity’, Youth and Policy 77, pp. 19-32.

Smith, M. (1988) Developing Youth Work. Informal education, mutual aid and popular practice, Milton Keynes: Open University Press. The book is also available in the informal education archives:

Smith, M. K. (1999: 2002b) ‘Youth work’, The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education,

Smith, M. K. (2001) ‘Young people, informal education and association’, the informal education homepage,

Smith, M. K. (2002a)’Transforming Youth Work- Resourcing excellent youth services. A critique’, the informal education homepage,

Williams, R. (2002) ‘The Richard Dimbleby lecture 2002, delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Roman Williams’, The Guardian Online, full text available:’religion/Story/0,27h4,863224,00.html. Accessed December 20, 2002.

Wolf, A. (2002) Does Education Matter? Myths about education and economic growth, London: Penguin Books.

Wylie, T. (2003) contribution to discussion ‘Resourcing excellent youth services: a critique’, the informal education bulletin board, .msnwtpgmarket=en-us.

Young, K. (1999) The Art of Youth Work, Lyme Regis: Russell House Publishing.

Some parts of this article concerning Transforming Youth Work first appeared in Smith (2002a)and have been the subject of discussion on the informal education homepage.

How to cite this piece:  Smith, M. K. (2003) ‘From youth work to youth development. The new government framework for English youth services’, Youth and Policy 79, Available in the informal education archives:

This piece has been reproduced here with the permission of the writer. © Mark K. Smith 2003. First placed in the archives: May 2004. Updated June 2019.