Youth and community work in the 70s – introduction

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This particular chapter of the Fairbairn-Milson Report (Youth and Community Work in the 70s) provides some of the official background to the report and provides a review of developments since the Albemarle Report.

contents: our approach · the albemarle report · subsequent developments · membership in the youth service · footnotes · how to cite this piece
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Our approach

cover: Youth and Community Work in the 70s

15. The Youth Service must, by its very nature, be dynamic and responsive to changes in the society it serves; the search for new directions now going on is a healthy sign. Nine years ago the Albemarle Committee’ (1) gave a chart for action to make the Youth Service a more significant part of the educational structure. Most of the changes sought by the Committee have now been achieved. Yet, as was expected, there have been significant changes in our society since the Albemarle Report and the debate about the role of the Service continues.

16. The Youth Service Development Council is a vehicle through which this debate can be transferred into comment and advice for the Secretary of State. From time to time we have concentrated attention on selected subjects- part-time training, community service and the role of the voluntary organisations-and we have received help in these enquiries from many parts of the Service. Of late, however, doubt and misgivings have arisen about the Service as a whole and, in particular, whether it was meeting the need for different types of provision that might be called for by different age groups. ‘One of the reasons that we are possibly failing in the Youth Service is that we are trying to do too much in one age-band-14 to 20. Young people at the top end of that age range find very little identity with the people at the bottom end of that age range. It therefore seemed to me that both ends of the Youth Service age-range should be examined’ (Mr. Denis Howell, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, House of Commons, March 26th 1967). Clearly the time was ripe for an overall review and we have, in this connection, read with great interest the booklet ‘Community of Interest’ written by the Standing Consultative Council on Youth and Community Service in Scotland.

17. The YSDC appointed two sub-committees. The first, under the chairmanship of Mr. A. N. Fairbairn, was asked to study the relationship of the Youth [page 10] Service with schools and further education; the second, under the chairmanship of Dr. F. W. Milson, was to report on the relationship of the Youth Service with the adult community. There are clear implications here for training, which have been studied by the Department.

18. Having considered the work of these three bodies, the Council appointed a working group consisting of the Chairman of the Council and the chairmen of the two sub-committees to produce a consolidated paper on Youth Work in the 70s. This, having been considered by the Council, led in turn to the present report. A list of evidence received and places visited is at  Appendix 1.

The Albemarle Report

19. ‘We believe that a ten-year development programme is required, to start in 1960. During the first five years prompt steps must be taken to catch up with a situation already upon us. During the second five-year period the permanent structure should be securely established’. In these words the Albemarle Committee expressed the core of their main recommendations, calling for both remedial measures and re-planning. We ourselves need to review the progress made in carrying out these recommendations, before we come to the measures necessary for further development during the decade of the 1970s.

20. The Albemarle Report proposed the appointment, by the then Minister, of the Development Council in order to advise him on the policy for and progress of development. Other major recommendations in that Report fell into three main categories. The first was concerned with training: that an emergency scheme should be initiated, to boost the numbers of full-time youth leaders from 700 to 1,300 within five years, and that long-term training arrangements should be set in hand; along with this, there should be a recognised system of qualification and recognised salaries and conditions of service for leaders; and training arrangements for part-time workers in the Youth Service should be expanded. Second was the recommendation that a ‘generous and imaginative building programme’ was essential to rehabilitate the Youth Service and to equip it for the expansion called for; the Committee suggested that it might be useful to get ideas on design from the Architects and Building Branch of the Ministry; it also urged that high priority be given at every level to remedying the general shortage of facilities for physical recreation. The third kind of recommendation concerned expenditure by all partners in the Service: central government should offer special grants for experimental work and should face increased expenditure on the Youth Service; local government should give greater and more consistent financial support to local voluntary bodies; voluntary organisations should consider a proposal for supporters’ councils, and management committees should relieve skilled leaders of the burden of raising money and thus allow them to concentrate on giving practical [page 11] help to young people; and in turn, young people themselves should be encouraged to pay more for good facilities.

21. The fact that the main recommendations, and a number of subsidiary ones, gained quick acceptance from the several partners in the Youth Service is a tribute to the work of the Albemarle Committee, not only in reaching realistic practical conclusions for a first stage of development-‘an exercise in the possible’ as they themselves saw it-but in the subsequent discussion of what youth work is all about which their Report helped to generate. The Report itself spoke in terms of a Service – primarily ‘social and pastoral’ yet an integral part of the educational system-providing ‘for the continued social and informal education of young people in terms most likely to bring them to maturity, those of responsible personal choice.’

22. We can see, therefore, that as we approach the end of this first decade of development, most of the Albemarle Committee’s practical recommendations have taken effect. By 1966 there were over 1,300 full-time youth leaders on the Department’s register of those currently in post (there are now over 1,500). The National College at Leicester has run emergency one-year courses since 1961. Conditions for acceptance as a qualified youth leader have been worked out, together with salaries and conditions of service (the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth Leaders was set up and first reported in 1961). In addition to the National College course, existing courses at Westhill College of Education, Swansea University Department of Education, London (YMCA) and Liverpool (NABC) were recognised as leading to qualified status. Over 30 colleges of education have also introduced optional courses in youth leadership for teachers in training.

23. There are still in the Youth Service some of the ‘dingy drab premises’ noted in the Albemarle Report, but new buildings provided over a period of eight years have produced remarkable improvements. The style and modernity of much of this provision have undoubtedly made an impact on the pattern of work. The Department’s Development Group of Architects were associated with an experimental club project, and Building Bulletin No. 20 on General Mixed Club Buildings has been produced. We have also noted the following Bulletins which are relevant to development of leisure-time facilities for young people:

No. 25 : Sixth Form and Staff

No. 28 : Playing Fields and Hard Surface Areas No. 30 : Drama and Music

No. 32 : Additions for the Fifth Form No. 41 : Sixth Form Centre.

24. Building programmes for the period April 1960 to March 1968 have allowed starts to be made on building work totalling £28 million. This [page 12] expenditure covered over 3,000 projects, both statutory and voluntary. In the same period, 160 youth sports projects totalling approximately £2.4 million of building work were programmed.

25. The Department’s grants have increased from £299,000 in 1959-60 to £1.9 million in 1967-68. These grants are at present made towards local voluntary capital projects, and towards the headquarters administration and training expenses of national voluntary youth organisations, the training of youth leaders at Leicester, Swansea and Westhill, and special developmental and experimental grants (the total offered under this last head since their introduction is over £206,000).

26. Local education authorities have also substantially increased their spending on the Youth Service: from an estimated £2.58 million in 1957-58 for England and Wales to £10 million in 1967-68. To assess the degree to which local education authorities’ resources devoted to the Youth Service have increased, we have obtained sufficient information to complete Appendix 2, which is constructed on similar lines to Appendix 4 of the Albemarle Report. It will be seen that the same questions were asked after a ten-year interval. The number of full-time youth leaders has more than kept pace with the Albemarle recommendations, as we shall re-emphasise later in another context; there has been a large increase in the number of part-time youth leaders; the total number of youth groups assisted has increased by 112%; expenditure per head of related population now varies from £0.42 to £6.27, compared to a variation from £0.07 to £2.65 ten years ago (allowing for the changed value of money, the average increase per head during this time is in the order of 120%).

Subsequent developments

27. In the last few years there have been further specific developments in several fields: notably, the training of part-time and full-time leaders, voluntary service, provision for immigrants, work with the handicapped, and research and experiments.


28. In July 1961, the Minister set up a working party under the chairmanship of Mr. G. S. Bessey to consider the nature of the training which should be available to part-time youth leaders and assistants, both paid and voluntary, and to advise on the best ways of arranging such training. Their report, (2) published in July 1962, took one stage further the study of the youth leader’s job, and suggested a minimum professional skill needed, whether the leader worked full-time or part-time. The report identified a common element in the

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training required by part-time leaders of youth groups of all kinds, and recommended that local education authorities and local voluntary bodies should jointly organise basic courses incorporating this common element of training. The report urged that there should be full consultation between statutory and voluntary partners in this task and that co-operation between neighbouring areas should also be considered. The case for such joint training rests strongly on the need to use in an effective team the scarce resources of good trainers wherever they are employed.

29. We have been able to assess progress in the implementation of these proposals. In December 1965 we had the benefit of a report’ (3) of our Review Committee (appointed in December 1964) under the Chairmanship of the Countess of Albemarle. This Committee reported that there had been an impressive response to the Bessey Report. By the end of 1963 some kind of joint training agency had been set up in the areas of 110 out of the 146 LEAs in England and Wales. (55 areas had a single agency, and there were 19 combined schemes in which 55 LEAs, and voluntary bodies in their areas, were participating.) The Committee, however, not entirely satisfied with the degree of consultation between partners in the provision of this training, attempted an examination of the hindrances, and confirmed that future progress must be firmly based on joint action. The Committee commended tutorial group methods of training and emphasised the importance of team work and team training for the staff involved in this task, and of more effective association between educational services and institutions of all kinds and those immediately concerned with the training of part-time leaders. Their report also reflected some of the discussion of the time among many people concerned with training when it said, ‘A few years ago, the concept of training in the Youth Service appeared to be the passing on of information together with demonstration by example. This has changed, and evidence shows a growing appreciation that training is designed to help the leader to develop his understanding and his working skill so that he can be more effective in his particular situation’.

30. The Department has been studying the question of future training for the full-time youth leader and has consulted, both informally and formally, many who are closely concerned with this training. The results of these studies, which we have followed with great interest, are incorporated in the proposals for re-organising training in the near future. It wilt be seen later that our proposals cover youth and community workers over a wider field than that of the present youth leader or the community centre warden. We would emphasise here that a similar change of concept is needed in the role of the part-time youth worker, a subject to which we return later in our report. [page 14]

Voluntary service

31. We are convinced, as were the Albemarle Committee and others before us, of the value of the voluntary principle at every level of activity. We have therefore been interested in the encouragement of voluntary effort by adults and by young people in all areas of youth work, statutory or voluntary. It may often be easier for voluntary organisations than for local authorities to obtain voluntary adult help, but in both cases a great deal of future development must continue to depend on the work of such volunteers supported where necessary by trained full-time workers. We are particularly attracted by the growth of community service, a subject we return to later.

Immigrants and the Youth Service

32. A Committee of this Council, on Immigrants and the Youth Service, was appointed in December 1965. Its chairman was Lord Hunt. Its terms of reference were ‘to consider the part which the Youth Service might play in meeting the needs of young immigrants in England and Wales and to make recommendations’. The Committee received evidence from local authorities in areas of immigrant settlement, voluntary organisations and people concerned in various ways with the welfare of immigrants, Youth Service associations, youth officers and youth leaders. It held a seminar in the West Midlands attended by people having a personal knowledge of immigrant problems, and individual Committee members made field visits, reporting their findings and impressions to their colleagues. The Committee’s report,(4) published in July 1967, called for: discussion at local level among all concerned with encouraging new attitudes to the problem; improvements in the Youth Service itself (including training); and a community-based approach to work with young immigrants. Local authorities and voluntary organisations were urged to review their broad strategy and policy in this respect and to assess their Youth Service provision in terms of these particular young people. The need was clearly stated to involve the help of a wide range of social agencies, and in particular the schools, colleges of further education, the Youth Employment Service and employers, the churches, social workers and the local voluntary liaison committees and the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants (5). The Department’s Circular No. 8/67, which accompanied the report, asked local education authorities and voluntary youth organisations for reports by the end of 1968 on action taken and on developments designed to further the interests of integrating young immigrants. We understand from the Department that the replies suggest the following main trends. First, that there is still need for more local discussion of the issues involved and for basing joint action on what the immigrants themselves feel they really want. Second, that broad strategy and policy has in many cases still to be worked out. Third, that some individual

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local education authorities and voluntary organisations have initiated useful work: examples include the holding of conferences at which interested bodies were represented, the canvassing of support in the schools, encouragement of parents to sit on parents’ committees and the appointment of youth workers to help specifically with immigrant problems. There is also evidence of success among the uniformed organisations in dealing with young immigrants. But   all in all, we are far from happy about the total response so far made towards implementation of the proposals contained in the Hunt Report. We shall      recommend what more could be done when we come to consider the administrative aspects of our proposals.

Work with the Handicapped

33. Many special efforts are being made by voluntary organisations and LEAs to help handicapped young people. In several areas there are clubs for educationally sub-normal children, associated with special schools, some catering also for ‘normal’ young people. One voluntary organisation is at present engaged on the development of work with backward adolescents with the help of a grant from the Department. Other voluntary organisations have developed residential holidays considerably during the last few years, bringing together physically handicapped and able bodied young people at several centres, and others are doing the same. One LEA arranged for a group of young people to staff a work camp in Father Borelli’s House of the Urchins in Naples. The      same authority has a scheme which enables girl club members to ‘adopt’ deprived children and share a week’s holiday with them. Many more examples could be given of the Youth Service working with minority groups and serving needy elements of the community. For many young people the experience is all the more attractive and enjoyable if they have it in the company of others from the same club or organisation.

Research and Experiment

34. We recognise the contribution that can be made by fundamental research projects, simple surveys mounted for particular purposes, and experimental work in a variety of Youth Service settings. 

35. The Department of Education and Science has recently commissioned a fundamental research project at the University of Keele, to examine the nature and      purpose of work with youth and to contrast the perceptions of young people in and out of the Youth Service, professional youth workers, administrators, teachers, parents and employers. The Department has also asked the University of Leeds to conduct related research into the relationship between statutory and voluntary bodies in the Youth Service context. In addition, the Government Social Survey has undertaken a complementary study of the Youth Service and young people, designed to throw light on three basic questions about the role of the Youth Service: first, who takes part in the [page 16] activities at present provided by the Youth Service; second, what are the differences between young people who do and those who do not take part in these activities; third, what form of Youth Service can best meet the needs of young people.

36. We have been able to make limited and only simple enquiries of our own which we describe immediately below, and the figures we quote from enquiries and other sources must be regarded as tentative. We therefore look forward to the external assessment of youth work being carried out through the research projects mentioned above.

37. The special grants by the Department recommended in the Albemarle Report are particularly for experimental or pioneering work with the 14-20 age range. The Department supplies a paper of guidance to would-be applicants, who need normally to be sponsored by a recognised research organisation or the headquarters of a national voluntary youth organisation. On completion of a project a report is required so that the results can be shared. At the beginning of 1969, 15 projects had been completed (reports were then ready on seven of these), 14 projects were still in progress, four had attracted special pump-priming development grants and three projects had been abandoned. About half the projects have been concerned with special needs of particular young people including the handicapped and the unattached (see para 68); the remainder were variously concerned with particular youth work methods, training, voluntary service, and adventurous pursuits.

38. We shall have more to say about research towards the end of our report.

Membership in the Youth Service

39. Some figures produced by the Fairbairn and Milson Committees, and partly from other sources including the Government Social Survey are attached at Appendix 3. They contain a number of estimates and approximations and should be treated cautiously.

40. The main conclusions that can be drawn from them are:

(a) The proportion of young people attracted by the Youth Service is some 29%, compared to the Albemarle estimate of ‘one in three’.

(b) The proportion of memberships falls away markedly by the ages of 19 and 20.

(c) The voluntary organisations (many of whom are grant-aided) attract a higher proportion at all ages, not only below 14.

(d) Club attendance by those in full-time education is disproportionately large and the appeal is mainly to those of 14 a d 15.

(e) A smaller proportion of girls is involved than of boys and they lose their interest more quickly.

41. These findings reflect what has happened to the Youth Service at a time of social change, a subject to which we now turn.


(1) Committee appointed by the Minister of Education in 1958 ‘to review the contribution which the Youth Service of England and Wales can make in assisting young people to play their part in the life of the community, in the light of changing social and industrial conditions and of current trends in other branches of the education service; and to advise according to what priorities best value can be obtained for the money spent.’ (Report. Cmnd. 929).

(2) “The Training of Part-time Youth Leaders and Assistants’, HMSO.

(3) “A Second Report on the Training of Part-time Youth Leaders and Assistants’, HMSO.

(4) “Immigrants and the Youth Service’, HMSO. 

(5) (now succeeded by the Community Relations Commission).

How to cite this piece: Department of Education and Science (1969) Youth and Community Work in the 70s. Proposals by the Youth Service Development Council (The ‘Fairbairn-Milson Report’), London: HMSO. Extracts in the informal education archives,

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First placed in the archives: April 2003