Youth and community work in the 70s – the younger teenage group

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This particular chapter (xi) of the Fairbairn-Milson Report (Youth and Community Work in the 70s) (1969) argues for an increased opportunity for involvement and responsibility, and for establishing satisfying personal relationships.

contents: introduction · youth work in schools · development/teachers centres · youth work in further education establishments
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[page 69] 179. If the role of the young adult as envisaged in the Active Society is to become a reality then its foundations must be built in the work with the young teenager.

180. In our consideration of the ways in which the Youth Service and schools are responding to the needs of young people, we were encouraged by the many factors which will help the young person go on to meet his social and personal responsibility and the increasing scope for social, cultural and recreative pursuits. It is apparent that the trend in Secondary Education is such that schools are developing a wider role than in the past and are becoming much more involved with the community and linking their activities with the reality of life. While it is true that many youth organisations have been active in this way, for schools generally this is a new and developing trend.

181. As we pointed out earlier, in our chapter on The Changing Social Scene, the increasing complexity of society brought about by the accelerating rate of change in technology and the calling into question of previously accepted attitudes and moral values makes it necessary for parents, schools and youth organisations to help young people understand the many new and confusing circumstances that they encounter in society.

182. In choosing a society which will seek to involve its members in decision making and in creating a youth and community service which will seek to encourage this, it is fundamental that the work with the younger group must increase the opportunities for experiences in two main areas—in addition to providing opportunity for formal education, cultural, recreational and social activities—first, opportunities for involvement and responsibility and second, opportunities for establishing satisfying personal relationships.

183. The decline in authoritarianism is creating a climate in which questioning and a sharing of opinions can take place. It is no longer the duty of a pupil to listen and believe. The voice of the young is being listened to and opinions and decisions are being arrived at jointly. In the teaching situation itself new approaches to learning through discovery and experiment and the relating of courses to the real world is having a profound effect on the pupil/teacher relationship. In schools it is now commonplace to find groups in discussion [page 70] over local, national and international affairs. This is not teaching in the old sense but it is helping the young person to become aware of the society in which he will play his part.

184. As in youth organisations, schools are encouraging young people to create and be responsible for their own social and recreational affairs. These developments together with the concept and practice of pastoral care which is firmly established in the schools are making it possible for a wide range of personal relationships to evolve. With the extension of the school into the affairs of the community and the trend to link informal further education more closely with the schools, many of these relationships will be able to continue beyond the stage of leaving school.

Youth work in schools

185. There are those who will argue that the influence of examinations, syllabuses, curricula, organisation and sanctions may introduce structure and stratification, and influence relationships between teacher and student as well as between students themselves, in ways which are not conducive to youth work. That there is force in these arguments we would not deny, but we are convinced from our evidence that it is a diminishing force. Much that is being done in schools to meet the needs of young people end the new approaches to learning promises to accelerate the process at an exciting rate.

186. The changing approaches in the classrooms are making it increasingly possible for the school to engage successfully in leisure provision for young people of school age. We expect, therefore, in the long term, that much of such leisure provision will be made, if not within the school, in close association with it and its resources by the school itself and by voluntary organisations working within the school programme.

187. An important factor emphasised in paragraph 66 was that young people should be able to make choices. This means that facilities outside schools are essential for the younger age-range. Here the LEAs and the voluntary organisations, with their proud history and long experience of working with young people, will continue to play a major part.

188. A Youth Service in which the school played no part would be quite inadequate; but equally so would be one which was entirely school-based and using only the resources of the school. It is quite crucial that all the relevant material and personal resources of a particular area combine purposefully towards a common end.

Development/teacher centres

189. Schools Council Working Paper No. 2, ‘The Raising of the School Leaving Age’, suggested that there should be operational centres to release [page 71] teachers from the classroom, provide facilities for local discussion and planning, and to develop collaboration between the various agencies concerned with young people. Working Paper No.10, ‘Curriculum Development,Teachers’ Groups and Centres’, is concerned with the development of these centres, but only cursory references are made to ‘the co-operative process of curriculum development’; and only the involvement of those institutions and associations directly involved in the school teaching situation is suggested. It is a pity that the term ‘Teachers’ Centres’, with its exclusive implication, is used more often than ‘Local Development Centres’, although in some areas this has not prohibited participation by youth workers. While it is fundamental to the whole notion of curriculum reappraisal that initiative should come from the teachers themselves, we see here a golden opportunity for the introduction of expertise and experience from other workers with young people and for the consequent improved communication between all concerned.

Youth work in further education establishments

190. We have described in an earlier chapter (paragraphs 134—149) the potential for youth work in major further education establishments. It is right, however, to sound a note of caution. While there are colleges of FE which are growing closer to the community, and while we have seen other situations which promise well, we believe that the achievement of real integration is difficult, even where there is a college principal who is himself sympathetic to the idea of a ‘community based’ college of further education. The stumbling-block is that it may be difficult for those in the colleges to adjust themselves to the notion that their college is not only primarily an instrument for the provision of vocational educational activities. We believe that many are so orientated towards the provision of such activities that they tend to undervalue other less formal provision; are so concerned with individual achievement over a narrow spectrum of life possibilities, that they undervalue and thereby alienate the examination non-achiever; and above all, are so used to working only with those who come to their institutions that they ignore those who do not come and think themselves right to do so. This is not to say that they may not allow certain facilities to be used for non-vocational further education activities, but some will do so only so long as this does not interfere with what they see as the basic job of the colleges—the provision of organised courses.

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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This piece has been reproduced here by the informal education homepage under licence from from the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland. The informal education homepage holds a licence to reproduce public service information and another to reproduce Parliamentary material.

First placed in the archives: April 2003. Updated June 2019.