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Policy

Joint Area Reviews (JARs)

Ofsted began a three-year programme of Joint Area Reviews (JARs) in September 2005. JARs examine how far children and young people in a local authority are achieving the Every Child Matters outcomes – i.e. are healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and experience economic wellbeing. They cover all education and social services directly managed or commissioned by a local authority, as well as health and youth justice services provided by partner agencies. In October 2007, the focus of the reports changed to concentrate on children with learning difficulities and/or disabilities, those who are looked after and children at risk or requiring safeguarding. There are further sections on equality and diversity and safeguarding, and additional investigations are carried out into issues such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), other health inequalities, and the 14-19 strategy.

Annual Performance Assessments (APAs) assess a local authority’s contribution to improving the lives of children and young people through its education and social care functions, and covers other services such as health and youth justice provided by partner agencies. APAs are linked with Joint Area Reviews to form an integrated approach.

The following reports provide evidence from JARs of the contribution that youth work is making to successful outcomes for young people, and of youth services' success in demonstrating the value of their work to others.

Joint Area Reviews (JARs)

JARs from previous years are available in Word document format.  Please send requests to Jo Poultney.

Ofsted has also published a report that draws on evidence from local authority youth services inspections, carried out as part of Ofsted’s joint area reviews of children’s and young people’s services from 2005 to 2008. It reports on the quality and impact of youth work and tracks recent but early developments in the introduction of integrated youth support.

Joint Area Reviews, Youth Engagement and Neighbourhood Renewal

The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit commissed The NYA to undertake an analysis of Joint Area Review reports in June 2006. The analysis focused on two aspects of the reports: the extent, quality and impact of children and young people’s involvement in decision-making in local services; and the extent to which neighbourhood renewal was identified as contributing to positive outcomes for children and young people.

The details of the analysis are found in the full document:

Joint Area Reviews, Youth Engagement and Neighbourhood Renewal

The following reports provide evidence from APAs on the contribution made by youth work and youth services.

Ofsted also publishes Annual Performance Assessment (APA) toolkits for each local authority. These are the APA performance indicators that contributed to the assessments given to local authorities on their services for children and young people. The toolkits can be found on the Ofsted website >>

The following briefing papers bring together the strongest evidence from each year of JARs and APAs of the contribution made by youth work and youth services.

JARS for 2008/09

Twenty-third round Joint Area Reviews (JARs) April 2009

Ofsted has published the final round of Joint Area Reviews (JARs) which continues to include an encouraging number of positive references to the role of youth services. JARs explore the extent to which children and young people are healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and secure economic wellbeing.

They focus specifically on children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, those who are looked after and children at risk or requiring safeguarding. They evaluate the collective contribution made by all relevant children’s services to outcomes for these groups. There are further sections on equality and diversity and safeguarding, and additional investigations are carried out into issues such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), other health inequalities, and the 14-19 strategy. JARs have now been replaced by the Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) inspection framework which came into force on 1 April 2009. The CAA will look at how local services work together to improve the quality of life for local people. It will reflect local priorities and assess councils, health bodies, police and other agencies responsible for public services in order to highlight barriers and identify best practice.

A total of 17 reports have been published in this round which show that youth services are contributing in particular to helping vulnerable young people adopt healthy lifestyles and make a positive contribution.

While it is sometimes difficult to detect youth services’ contribution to partnership work, scrutiny of accompanying youth service inspection reports reveals instances where youth services are involved in multi-agency work highlighted in JARs.

Equality and diversity

Reading Youth Service is described as having ‘a pro-active approach to equality and diversity issues’ that has resulted in increased levels of participation by vulnerable groups. There are also examples of good individual projects from other youth services including the Fusion Project in Oldham, which has increased young people’s understanding of different cultures and backgrounds; a targeted youth work project in Tower Hamlets for Somali young people; and an initiative in Bury that involves young people in the annual preparations for the Holocaust memorial.

Being healthy

Turning Point runs a sex and relationships peer education programme in Leicester that trains young parents to deliver sex and relationships education (SRE) to young people in eight of the city’s secondary schools. A drop-in centre run by the youth service offers Chlamydia screening to young people ‘in a sensitive and discrete way’. Over 100 young people were tested in the first three months of the service operating. In Reading, ‘a committed team of youth workers’ delivers SRE in five of the seven secondary schools. The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust also works in partnership with the youth service to provide contraception and sexual health advice in two schools and the college. The report states that so far, over 3,000 young people have received SRE within youth settings. Youth workers in Norfolk are trained in health screening and conducting pregnancy tests. In Lambeth, young people were involved in developing the teenage pregnancy strategy, which included a high profile publicity campaign developed by and for young people.

Youth workers in Blackburn with Darwen have been appointed to work alongside CAMHS with young people aged 19-25 in a preventative capacity. The report notes that the partnership is having a positive impact. In Lambeth, the CAMHS team for looked after young people is co-located in the Children and Young People’s Service, a development that ‘has been effective in preventing placement breakdown’.

In South Tyneside, the youth service, along with school nurses and the Matrix service, provides ‘effective advice and good support to young people about the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse’. The report on Reading also notes that ‘young people engaged in youth activities benefit from clear advice on drug and alcohol misuse’. In Lambeth, a need to raise the profile of substance misuse treatment across universal services has resulted in the substance misuse commissioning function being integrated into the Children and Young People’s Service.

Making a positive contribution

Local democracy

Young people in Blackburn with Darwen are ‘involved well in debate and decision-making’. The report notes that they participated in a national project to develop leadership skills amongst young Muslims and took part in a debate on national security held at the United States Embassy in London. Young people have also contributed to Neighbourhood Voices events and ‘are routinely included in groups at all levels planning services for children and young people’. In Lambeth, young people have been involved in the development of an independence training programme and an award winning website. They participate in staff recruitment, commissioning and the review of placement providers, and act as peer inspectors, for example in relation to housing provision for care leavers. Young people are also represented on the management boards of many of the borough’s youth centres.

The report on Warwickshire states that the contributions of young people to service improvement have led to better integration and targeting of youth services. Young people have also been involved in the scrutiny committee’s reviews of substance misuse and transport. Similarly, the youth council in Oldham has been involved in recent scrutiny work. In Southwark, ‘many initiatives have been developed through feedback and engagement with young people, which has helped to increase the attendance and commitment of those engaged in activities, for example in sports, fashion and music programmes’. Young people have also been involved in the evaluation and redevelopment of projects, and a ‘significant number’ of young people have been trained as peer mediators.

Young people in Leicester are described as being ‘able to make a key contribution to shaping services’. Youth MPs meet with the Director of Children’s Services on a quarterly basis. In Middlesbrough, young people organised a Local Democracy Week, and are ‘effectively engaged’ in evaluating youth service provision. In Essex, young people’s involvement in planning, development and quality assurance within the integrated youth service is described as ‘outstanding’. The youth service in South Tyneside is described has having ‘engaged successfully with young people to help develop its provision’.

Anti-social behaviour

The report on Lambeth describes crime and fear of crime as a key priority for the council and its partners. An additional £1.7 million over the next three years has been allocated to support the council’s Young and Safe strategic action plan, including more effective youth support services. The council runs a number of ‘innovative’ projects to tackle gun and knife crime and raise awareness of the danger of joining gangs. The report notes that ‘staff deliver their message in a credible way, often through high quality workshops that challenge young people to question their choice of lifestyle and the use of drugs and criminal activity. Rigorous evaluation of projects demonstrates their effectiveness in reducing crime and improving behaviour’. Among the projects highlighted are the X-it programme, described as ‘high quality’, that has reduced offending and gang behaviour among the 120 young people who have participated so far. It uses group work, a residential course and leadership training and some of the young people are trained to work on future projects. The Fire Service runs the LIFE project that works with young men aged between 13 and 16 who are identified as at risk of exclusion from school or becoming involved in criminal activity. Participants work alongside officers at a working fire station and the report states that ‘the programme has led to an improvement in self-image, attitude, behaviour and better engagement with education among the 150 participants’.

Tower Hamlets also operates a number of effective initiatives to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. Operation Curb is a partnership between the police and the youth service which has achieved a ‘noticeable reduction’ in crime by targeting hot-spot areas around transport hubs and routes to and from school. The Rapid Response Team works across the borough to defuse incidents and engage young people in peer mediation. The Brick Lane Youth Development Association targets young people from black and minority ethnic groups who are involved in crime via a mentoring service, the Aasha gang conflict mediation project and the Amaal girls’ project. The council has also launched six intergenerational projects across the borough, resulting in an indication from residents’ surveys that there has been a drop in the perceived fear of crime.

Young people in Blackburn with Darwen are described as being ‘fully involved’ in initiatives to promote community cohesion. Young people gave presentations to members of the Local Strategic Partnership’s People and Communities Forum sharing their views and experiences of activities to promote community cohesion. A multi-agency initiative has also developed a nationally recognised toolkit used to challenge young people’s pre-conceived ideas and prejudice and encourage inclusion.

In Southwark, the council has developed ‘a wide range of innovative projects across the borough focused on preventative diversionary activities’. A number of the projects are described as being ‘particularly effective’ in bringing a diverse range of young people together, reducing territorialism and engaging young people who are reluctant to travel outside their neighbourhoods. Projects include the Bermondsey Four Squares Estate Project, Diva Day, which is a celebration of young women’s musical talents, and the Southwark Youth Carnival that involves high numbers of young people in a Caribbean themed event. In Essex, the integrated youth service is described as addressing anti-social behaviour ‘effectively’, using mobile provision and detached work to explore issues of alcohol and substance misuse and anti-social behaviour with young people. The report on Darlington states that targeted work in hot spot areas by the youth service is resulting in lower incidences of anti-social behaviour. In Norfolk, the Discovery Centre in Kings Lynn ‘signposts challenging young people to take on positive youth work opportunities’.

Supporting vulnerable young people

The report on Lambeth describes how youth work engages those young people most unlikely to participate in universal youth provision and notes that ‘many front line youth support staff are well trained in the use of the CAF and how to deal with issues that are indicators of risk such as mental health, drugs misuse, domestic violence and dyslexia’. Reading Youth Service is also described as being ‘well placed to facilitate partnership working and effectively support targeted provision for the most vulnerable’.

A high number of young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities participate in youth service provision in Oldham. ‘The service has very good information about individuals and makes every effort to contact them and involve them in activities’. In South Tyneside, young people with disabilities are consulted through the ‘Check it Out’ project (a youth assessors group) and the ‘Talking, Meeting, Eating’ group. This has led to service improvements such as better accessibility to public venues and developments in the ‘Special Friends’ scheme. Youth workers in Bury supported activities at a fun day for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities at the local leisure centre. Warwickshire youth service offers a ‘wide range’ of activities for disabled people. The Wacky Forum provides those in special schools with an opportunity to participate in decision-making and is used ‘increasingly frequently as a formal consultation route on a variety of issues’. It also has good communication links with the youth forum. In Walsall, the number of young people with disabilities using the youth service has more than doubled in recent years and youth workers are described as ‘sensitive and measured in their approach’. Youth workers in Darlington also ‘demonstrate significant skill and expertise’ in engaging disabled young people. The Sportability project gives young people the self-esteem and confidence to take a greater part in mainstream youth club activities.

Looked after young people in Darlington created their own DVD ‘Listen to me’, which has been used for training staff and presented at national conferences. They also participate in the recruitment of children’s services staff. In Leicester, looked after young people express their views through the ‘impressive’ Stand Up Speak Out group. The youth service in Middlesbrough runs a ‘well-attended’ service for looked after children and supports their progress into mainstream services.

Young carers in Reading are described as ‘particularly well supported by the youth service’. In Norfolk, young carers also have ‘good access to support from youth teams’.

Economic wellbeing

Youth services’ contribution to this outcome is most evident in helping to assist young people back into education, employment and training. In Oldham, the youth service offers a range of alternative awards and specific programmes for young people disengaged from school. The report notes that ‘for many young people this provides their first opportunity to gain an accredited outcome and it can lead to more positive engagement in school’. The integrated youth service in Essex also provides a personalised alternative education programme for young people aged 14-16. Youth workers in Middlesbrough provide ‘good personal support’ for young people not in education, employment or training and provision is described as having ‘a clear focus on transferable key skills’.

In Leicester, a partnership between the health service, Connexions and the youth service supports young parents to gain qualifications and improve their prospects of continuing in education or employment. The youth service also runs targeted activities for older young people that lead to accreditation and progression into youth work. In Darlington, ‘the volume of youth service provision has tripled since 2005’. The youth service offers a range of short accredited courses, some of which are specifically tailored to disaffected young people. The report notes that ‘many of these programmes were developed with the help of young people’.

Twenty-second round Joint Area Reviews (JARs) November 2008

A further round of Joint Area Reviews (JARs) has been published by Ofsted which continues to include an encouraging number of positive references to the role of youth services.

JARs explore the extent to which children and young people are healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and secure economic wellbeing. They focus specifically on children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, those who are looked after and children at risk or requiring safeguarding. They evaluate the collective contribution made by all relevant children’s services to outcomes for these groups. There are further sections on equality and diversity and safeguarding, and additional investigations are carried out into issues such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), other health inequalities, and the 14-19 strategy.

A total of five reports have been published in this round which show that youth services are contributing in particular to helping vulnerable young people adopt healthy lifestyles and make a positive contribution.

While it is sometimes difficult to detect youth services’ contribution to partnership work, scrutiny of accompanying youth service inspection reports reveals instances where youth services are involved in multi-agency work highlighted in JARs.

Equality and diversity

The youth service in Tameside is described as providing ‘strong support for young people from vulnerable groups including gay and lesbian young people and good initiatives to raise the understanding and tolerance of others’.

Safeguarding

The report on Worcestershire states that ‘integrated youth support achieves a sound balance of universal specialist and targeted work with a clear emphasis on safeguarding and promoting equal access for all young people’. The work of the youth service in Wiltshire, along with children’s centres and schools, is cited as evidence of the local partnership’s commitment to developing and providing a range of early intervention and preventative services for children and young people. Youth services in the East Riding of Yorkshire are partners in a ‘good anti-bullying strategy group’.

Being healthy

Youth workers in the east Riding of Yorkshire ‘deliver a good range of creative and effective sexual health and sexual education activities, as well as support for young parents’ and the report states they are ‘generally held in high regard by young people’.

In Wiltshire, the youth service along with the Children’s Rights Officer, has been involved in supporting three groups of looked after young people to help raise their self-esteem as part of a longer-term approach to young people’s sexual health and behaviours. The report notes that those young people who attended ‘valued the groups and have demonstrably learnt from them’. The youth service in Tameside runs clinics where young people access sexual health advice and screening. The multi-agency one-stop shop ‘No.31’ also provides a range of services including drug, alcohol and sexual health advice, smoking cessation services and counselling, and is particularly appreciated by young people aged 16 to 19.

Making a positive contribution

Local democracy

In the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Youth Assembly is ‘well supported’ by youth workers and is actively engaged in a number of activities including the development of anti-bullying strategies and reviews of school policies. The Youth Assembly also has representatives on a sexual health sub-group who are trained as peer educators to plan and deliver consultation activities for young people. They have also produced a ‘Man2Man’ booklet and a range of posters to raise awareness of homophobic bullying. The report notes that ‘young people in this group feel consulted and included by the council and its partners’. Youth forum members in Worcestershire have contributed to ‘effective’ multi-agency strategies on hate crime and domestic violence. The report also describes how the Youth Opportunity Fund is used well for activities to involve and support young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in local decision making. In Wiltshire, young people have been involved in the design of a new youth centre in Warminster and the development of a website and an online radio station ‘Sparksite’ which is run by young people.

Anti-social behaviour

In Wiltshire, good early intervention and support by youth workers for young people and the use of acceptable behaviour contracts are described as contributing to the low use of anti-social behaviour orders. Diversionary activities are also run for young people during the school holidays through the ‘Splash’ programme. In Worcestershire, the delegation of small amounts of funding to elected members for youth work in their areas has enabled local members to gain a better understanding of issues for young people and to develop their understanding of community cohesion.

Supporting vulnerable young people

The looked after children’s council in the East Riding of Yorkshire is described as making a significant contribution to service development. The group regularly meets with the director for children, family and adult services and has secured improved allowances and pocket money for looked after young people and also access to funding for redecoration of rooms in children’s homes. Members of the council are also involved in training foster carers and social care professionals, and were involved in the appointment of the current director of children, family and adult services. The report states that ‘young people report that senior managers and councillors are listening and are taking action on their recommendations and that the work of the looked after children’s council is having a significant impact on improvements to the service’.

Care Can Change, run by Motiv8, a voluntary youth organisation in Portsmouth, supports looked after children and young people to influence the planning and development of services. The report describes an example whereby feedback from young people led to changes in the contract that gives them access to computers in their placements. In Tameside, the youth service disability project supports young people to become volunteers. Wiltshire youth service is described as providing ‘good opportunities for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities through the bridging projects and Spark radio’. They are also given opportunities to engage in decision-making through the Wiltshire Assembly of Youth.

Economic wellbeing

Youth services’ contribution to this outcome is most evident in helping to assist young people back into education, employment or training. In Portsmouth, a weekly programme of activities run by the youth service is part of a number of measures described as having a positive impact on the numbers of children in care who are not in education, employment or training. In Wiltshire, the youth service works alongside rural communities to help reduce the number of exclusions among younger children.

Twenty-first round Joint Area Reviews (JARs) (October 2008)

A further round of Joint Area Reviews (JARs) has been published by Ofsted which continues to include an encouraging number of positive references to the role of youth services. JARs explore the extent to which children and young people are healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and secure economic wellbeing.

They focus specifically on children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, those who are looked after and children at risk or requiring safeguarding. They evaluate the collective contribution made by all relevant children’s services to outcomes for these groups. There are further sections on equality and diversity and safeguarding, and additional investigations are carried out into issues such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), other health inequalities, and the 14-19 strategy.

A total of eight reports have been published in this round which show that youth services are contributing in particular to helping vulnerable young people adopt healthy lifestyles and make a positive contribution.

While it is sometimes difficult to detect youth services’ contribution to partnership work, scrutiny of accompanying youth service inspection reports reveals instances where youth services are involved in multi-agency work highlighted in JARs.

Equality and diversity

In Redcar and Cleveland, ‘good work is being undertaken in schools and the youth service to promote equality and diversity’. The report highlights the Youth and Community Black and Minority Ethnic project as having ‘done much to raise awareness of diversity and challenge racism’. In Lancashire, the Building Bridges in Burnley project has successfully brought together young people from different heritages to work on activities to break down racial barriers in their communities, one result of which has been increased representation from all groups of young people on the youth council.

In Waltham Forest, young people are ‘involved well in the promotion of community cohesion’, for example through the young Muslim leaders’ project and a swapping cultures project to explore cultural identity and Islamic awareness. Connexions 4 Youth, the combined Youth Development and Connexions Services in Telford and Wrekin, provides ‘well-differentiated’ programmes for vulnerable groups of young people including young mothers, Travellers and those from Black and minority backgrounds.

Being healthy

The report on Telford and Wrekin describes how ‘well targeted work by the Connexions 4 Youth service has been effective in encouraging young people to defer parenthood’. Young women at one youth club described how youth work sessions had had a positive effect on their personal development, attitudes and values. The service is also planning a programme of detached youth work targeting young men and potential young fathers. In South Gloucestershire, all youth workers are trained in sex and relationships education and targeted access to sexual health services for vulnerable groups is provided via the mobile Urbie Project. A clinical outreach nurse runs drop-in clinics in selected schools and youth centres and young people interviewed stated that they ‘highly rated the service offered by the clinical outreach nurse and youth workers at the drop-in clinic and in youth centres’.

In Waltham Forest, the youth service is a partner in delivering ‘effective and coordinated’ child and adolescent mental health services. A designated youth worker works with black and minority ethnic young men to provide ‘good work’ on sexual health and relationships and the youth service also plans to establish a young fathers group. Redcar and Cleveland youth service is represented on the Young People’s Substance Misuse Partnership Board and partnership initiatives between the police and the youth service are described as having a ‘positive impact’ on reducing substance misuse.

The Trelya youth project in West Cornwall is cited as providing ‘an outstanding service to vulnerable young people living in a deprived area,’ offering education and support on alcohol and drug use. The project has recently been involved in successful work with young people around alcohol-related harm. In Nottinghamshire, trained youth workers helped two looked after young people with their emotional needs during activity weekends.

Making a positive contribution

Local democracy

In South Gloucestershire, the youth service leads on participation. The report notes that ‘young people are involved in all aspects of its work and feel they make a real difference’. There is ‘strong evidence that young people have had significant influence on the development of their local communities’ influencing a range of issues including anti-bullying initiatives, the development of open spaces, and sex and relationship education programmes. Young people are fully involved in the recruitment of staff, designing job specifications and sitting on recruitment panels. They are also involved in developing and managing projects, such as the Big Stash fund, where they allocate grant funding to initiatives designed and presented by young people. The council has recently developed the Youth Unlimited website to promote participation and act as a signpost to activities on offer.

In Waltham Forest, the ‘Forest Flava’ young people’s newspaper is delivered to every household in the borough and advertises participation and consultation opportunities on offer to young people. Examples of young people’s participation include the 2012 Olympic youth ambassadors scheme, involvement in interventions to combat anti-social behaviour and knife crime, the young advisors programme, running high profile events, and publishing their views and achievements in the local press. The report notes that many participation activities are accredited.

The DAFBY (Democractic Action for B&NES Youth) project in Bath and North East Somerset is cited as an example of the active participation of young people in shaping services, where they make ‘particularly impressive contributions to their communities’. In Lancashire, consultation with young people is described as ‘extensive and imaginative’ through surveys, participation events and youth councils. Nottinghamshire has developed a young inspector scheme to enable young people to shape and influence local services.

Anti-social behaviour

The youth service in Redcar and Cleveland is involved in a wide range of projects to tackle anti-social behaviour with ‘many positive outcomes recorded’. A fleet of buses is used to promote citizenship and respect in hotspots in the borough. They are equipped with healthcare facilities and offer a support service to meet the physical and emotional needs of vulnerable young people. The report notes that the buses engaged with over 6,000 young people last year.

In Waltham Forest, ‘the youth service contributes well to activities deterring young people from anti-social behaviour, for example, through good opportunities for accredited learning’. A combined approach in the borough has resulted in a recent reduction of 18 per cent in incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Supporting vulnerable young people

South Gloucestershire council consults and involves a broad range of children and young people who are at risk of not being heard. At the Brimsham Green youth centre, young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are involved in planning sessions and bidding for funding. A number of rural youth projects help to engage young people from rural areas, and care leavers have been involved in developing and delivering training to staff and councillors on working with looked after children. CAMHS has appointed a dedicated participation worker to work with young people with mental health issues, and black and minority ethnic young people are described as ‘actively engaged’ in local services. The report highlights a number of specific initiatives including the Breakthrough project, described as ‘excellent’, where young people shape the programme to meet their individual needs. Young mothers have been involved in developing the Parenting Support Strategy which has led to funding from Sure Start for four new ‘Young Mums’ groups. Traveller young people also designed a booklet entitled The Site Detective Safety Book and were involved in a focus group to raise awareness of their experiences and needs with other agencies.

The youth service in Telford and Wrekin is described as providing ‘some outstanding opportunities’ for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, such as Club 17. In Nottinghamshire, the Young Pioneers group helps young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities influence the shape and quality of services and is described as ‘well supported by the youth service’. Redcar and Cleveland youth service runs a ‘good range’ of inclusive activities and provides good support to young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities through open access provision at the Fusion Youth Club and targeted provision at the Grenfell Club. In Cornwall, ‘young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are involved effectively in mainstream, open access youth service projects and extended school activities’. The youth service in Bath and North East Somerset provides provision for black and minority ethnic young people, including a music project and holiday workshops.

Economic wellbeing

In Cornwall, youth workers ‘engage effectively’ with young people not in education, employment or training ‘through a good range of projects and styles of working, including mentoring in schools and colleges to encourage course completion’. The report on Telford and Wrekin notes that ‘schools report good, specialist support from the Connexions 4 Youth service’ for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

Nineteenth and twentieth rounds Joint Area Reviews (JARs) (August 2008)

A further two rounds of Joint Area Reviews (JARs) have been published by Ofsted which continue to include an encouraging number of positive references to the role of youth services. JARs explore the extent to which children and young people are healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and secure economic wellbeing. They focus specifically on children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, those who are looked after and children at risk or requiring safeguarding. They evaluate the collective contribution made by all relevant children’s services to outcomes for these groups. There are further sections on equality and diversity and safeguarding, and additional investigations are carried out into issues such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), other health inequalities, and the 14-19 strategy.

A total of seven reports have been published in these two rounds which show that youth services are contributing in particular to helping vulnerable young people make a positive contribution.

While it is sometimes difficult to detect youth services’ contribution to partnership work, scrutiny of accompanying youth service inspection reports reveals instances where youth services are involved in multi-agency work highlighted in JARs.

Equality and diversity

Youth service projects in Halton that deal with anti-racism and attitudes to gay and lesbian young people have had a ‘positive impact’, and the report praises the Positive Futures project for effectively re-engaging socially excluded young people in positive activities. The report on Bradford states that ‘the youth service makes a valuable contribution to community cohesion’.

Safeguarding

In Bradford, the youth service and youth offending team have established an anti-bullying project which offers young people a first line of contact and advice and signposting service. The report describes the project as ‘an impressive response to a locally identified issue’.

Being healthy

The report on York highlights the work of the Castlegate one stop shop which provides a wide range of information, advice and support services for young people aged 16 to 25. A research project conducted by looked after young people resulted in health services for them being redesigned, and the research concluded that overall they felt well supported in staying healthy.

Making a positive contribution

Local democracy

Young people in Kent are described as making ‘an excellent contribution to civic life and local politics’ as a result of the ‘very significant role’ played by the youth service. In York, the work of a consultation group for looked after young people, ‘Show Me That I Matter’, is described as ‘highly commendable’. Through the group looked after children and young people have achieved many improvements to services aimed at them. A celebration event held for looked after young people, organised by the group, received ‘excellent’ feedback from officers and guests, and young people themselves described the event as ‘brilliant’ and ‘the best ever’. Older young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities have had a ‘significant influence’ on CAMHS delivery through ‘The Heard’ project. They are represented on the strategic board and have secured the provision of a telephone support line and website which they run themselves. The report notes that they ‘feel empowered and consider that they make a difference’.

There are various participation structures in place for young people in Halton. The Youth Bank is collecting the views and opinions of young people as they express them through Youth Opportunity Fund bids. The ‘Involve’ project offers young people a say in how Connexions is run. The council also supports a number of celebratory events which attract a large number of youth groups. The report states that through these opportunities young people ‘gain knowledge about democratic structures and their part in them. They have raised expectations and a more optimistic outlook on what can be achieved in life’.

The Bradford and Keighley Youth Parliament has representatives on the Champions for Children Board, the Children and Young People’s Strategic Executive and the Young People and Education Improvement Committee. The report notes that they ‘make an effective contribution, challenging officers and councillors’ plans’.

Anti-social behaviour

The youth service in York takes the lead on a number of successful preventative initiatives including the Inspired Youth Arts and Media Project, Playspace and the Chill Out Zone. The police and local communities have reported that these projects are effectively reducing anti-social behaviour in some of the most deprived areas. Targeted youth work is also helping to reduce the numbers of looked after young people involved in re-offending and offending behaviour. The report on Halton highlights a diversionary initiative called ‘On the Streets’ where the fire service, youth service and Connexions work together in areas where incidents of arson had been increasing.

Kent youth service actively participates in crime reduction panels in each district and the report highlights the work of a partnership between the youth service, police and Charlton Athletic Football Club in providing an effective diversionary activity for young people. The report on Croydon cites the Positive Activities for Young People programme and youth work as examples of ‘good work’ to promote community safety and community cohesion which is helping to reduce fear of crime in the area. In Shropshire, the youth service is described as ‘working well with partner agencies to develop community safety and reduce anti-social behaviour through club, outreach and detached work’.

Personal development

The report on York states that ‘targeted work by the youth service and partners to provide alternative activities to engage young people is consistently good’. Youth workers and neighbourhood wardens worked successfully together to identify reasons why young people were not engaging in leisure activities and as a result deployed mobile resources to fill gaps in provision. The ‘Potential’ social cohesion group also effectively re-engaged a group of young people who had been affected by the murder of a friend to achieve well at GCSE and become youth leaders themselves. The youth service element of the integrated structure in Halton is described as ‘sensitively managed and focuses well on informal learning’. In Solihull, young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities ‘develop impressive inter-personal and social skills in youth provision, including representing others in the UK Youth Parliament’.

Supporting vulnerable young people

The youth service in Croydon ‘makes an important contribution’ to the cultural and leisure activities provided for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. They are well supported in making applications to the Youth Opportunity Fund, and young people with physical disabilities take part in challenging overseas trips and outdoor activities. In Halton, the youth service uses ‘creative approaches’ to engage young people with a learning difficulty and/or disability and looked after young people in youth work activities, including making sure they are fully integrated with their peers in open access projects. An increasing number of looked after young people undertake voluntary work through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. The youth service also undertakes ‘well conceived’ work with young gay and lesbian people and promotes anti-racist approaches. The report notes that ‘such work has also had a good impact on young people’s attitudes towards minority groups more generally’.

In Bradford, the youth service runs an ‘innovative’ peer education project that supports young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to deliver awareness raising sessions for youth groups. The youth service in Shropshire provides ‘effective support’ for older young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to develop teamwork and leadership skills. Solihull youth service has recently invested in a mobile youth facility to help provide more out-of-school provision for young people in rural areas.

Economic wellbeing

In Kent youth workers are involved in a partnership between the council and the Rainer Foundation in providing 16+ services for looked after young people and care leavers preparing for independence. The report notes that ‘the work of youth workers is particularly valued’ by young care leavers. Youth workers are also involved with partner agencies in providing ‘high quality, well-integrated support’ to young people excluded from school or at risk of becoming disengaged with learning. Improvements have also been made to careers education and the provision of information, advice and guidance, and a web-based county-wide prospectus for 14-19 education and training opportunities has been developed. The report states that ‘collaboration between Connexions and the youth service has made a major contribution to these developments and to the provision of high quality, targeted support for vulnerable young people’.

Youth workers in Croydon support Connexions advisers in helping prepare young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities for learning, training and employment post-16. The youth service also supports young people refusing to attend school. Halton youth service has worked alongside Connexions and the YMCA to develop a range of projects which engage hard to reach young people. The report on York states that ‘the youth service and other partner agencies work diligently with those young people who are ‘hard to reach’ and have achieved considerable success in getting reluctant learners back into mainstream schools’.

Seventeenth and eighteenth rounds Joint Area Reviews (JARs) (June 2008)

A further two rounds of Joint Area reviews (JARs) have been published by Ofsted which continue to include an encouraging number of positive references to the role of youth services.

JARs explore the extent to which children and young people are healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and secure economic wellbeing. They focus specifically on children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, those who are looked after and children at risk or requiring safeguarding. They evaluate the collective contribution made by all relevant children’s services to outcomes for these groups. There are further sections on equality and diversity and safeguarding, and additional investigations are carried out into issues such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), other health inequalities, and the 14-19 strategy.

A total of eight reports have been published in these two rounds which show that youth services are contributing in particular to young people’s health and wellbeing and to helping vulnerable young people make a positive contribution.

While it is sometimes difficult to detect youth services’ contribution to partnership work, scrutiny of accompanying youth service inspection reports reveals instances where youth services are involved in multi-agency work highlighted in JARs.

Equality and diversity

The report on Luton describes the youth service’s promotion of diversity and social cohesion as ‘outstanding’, with a range of targeted work aimed at vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups. In St Helens, young people observed during youth work activities are described as displaying ‘much tolerance, understanding and sensitivity towards others’, while the Breeze Youth Festival in Leeds and Talking Leeds DVD are cited as examples where young people from a wide range of communities are given the opportunity to mix and take part in positive activities.

Safeguarding

The safeguarding procedures adopted by the youth service in St Helens are reported as enabling the service to ‘contribute effectively to the community services safety agenda’.

Enjoying and achieving

Youth services in both Poole and Camden provide opportunities for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to enjoy and achieve through a range of after-school and holiday activities. The report on St Helens notes that the youth service has improved provision for young people on Fridays and at weekends.

Being healthy

The report on Poole cites a sexual health outreach project based at a local youth club as a ‘good example of multi-agency working’ around health promotion. The project involves a teenage pregnancy reduction co-ordinator, a male sexual health educator, and youth workers. Many young people, including young Travellers, access the drop-in service and take part in activities around alcohol misuse and sexual health. The youth service in Oxfordshire, alongside Connexions, is described as being ‘increasingly involved in health promotion and prevention’. A consultation with young people living rough or in difficult circumstances led to the development of a dedicated clinic run by a GP at a youth centre to cater for their sexual health needs.

The youth service in Southend-on-Sea works with Southend YMCA and the leaving care team in a close partnership that has resulted in ‘timely and appropriate referrals for 16-19-year-olds to training programmes for substance misuse’. The YMCA also produced a film ‘Killer in a Can’ which was seen by 200 young people who attended the ‘2 smart for drugs’ roadshow and has won a Prince’s Trust national award for good community impact. Young carers are also targeted in health promotion work and are involved in producing the Fit It and Vibes magazines, which focus on health issues and are aimed at young carers.

In Luton, young people in need of a substance misuse service are exclusively treated by the young people’s service, and the youth service is described as supporting good personal and social health education around smoking, alcohol and drugs misuse. St Helens youth service is described as providing ‘excellent opportunities for young people to consider the consequences of poor health practices, such as drinking and use of drugs’.

Making a positive contribution

Local democracy

Stockton-on-Tees has a young citizens’ panel called Youth Viewpoint which the report notes has over 500 members aged from eight to 18. Members receive regular questionnaires about issues relating to their community and council services and a newsletter which feeds back on what has changed as a result of consultation with them. Positive examples include the introduction of youth cafés and youth buses in response to young people’s requests for a better choice of more informal provision and better access to facilities in outlying areas. The report on Luton states that ‘excellent systems, supported by the youth service, are in place for involving and engaging young people in planning services at a strategic level’. Most youth groups have membership committees that successfully involve young people in developing and influencing provision, and over 3,000 young people took part in the election for 25 members of a youth parliament.

In Leeds, young people were consulted on the city wide transport policy which was revised to provide subsidised bus fares for young people. Following this success, the report notes that ‘the children and young people’s scrutiny committee formed a shadow scrutiny committee of young people which is developing its own work programme on issues decided by young people themselves, giving them a direct route into policy making at council level’. Young people in Oxfordshire have been involved in helping the council decide where to place play and leisure activities and shape the approach to anti-bullying. The youth forum also takes ‘significant responsibility’ for deciding where youth opportunity funds should be spent.

Anti-social behaviour

In Luton, ‘the police and youth service collaborate successfully to deter anti-social behaviour’. A mobile youth centre has been deployed on estates where anti-social behaviour has been reported which has resulted in a reduction in incidents. In St Helens, the youth service offers ‘a good range’ of projects to deter young people from offending, some of which are described as ‘highly effective’. Camden Youth and Connexions service and the youth offending service are described as working ‘exceptionally well together on community safety and on the prevention of crime’, and ‘good multi-agency work’ involving the youth service in Poole is described as ‘having a positive impact on anti-social behaviour’.

Supporting vulnerable young people

The Independence Day in Poole has been running for the past four years and has enabled young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to put forward their views on local services and facilities and question policy makers. The report notes that ‘the outcomes of some of the Independence Day activities have been used as exemplars of good practice at regional and local events’. The youth service also engages effectively with other vulnerable groups, notably young Travellers, where youth services are involved in providing parent groups, youth clubs and support for school councils, and young carers, where there are good links with youth workers and the lead worker offers a mobile phone contact service.

In Stockton-on-Tees, looked after young people are described as having good opportunities to participate in a range of activities, for example the annual Riverside Festival, supported by the youth service, where young people gained recognition for their achievements in designing their own outfits and planning their contribution. The report also notes that youth service projects successfully attract young refugees and asylum seekers, ‘who highly value the strong personal support they receive’. Members of Stockton Disability Forum have developed their own award scheme, the MB Awards, which accredit sport and team working.

Twenty-four carers from Southend-on-Sea attended the Young Carers’ Festival in Southampton and a full-time worker is funded through the national carers’ grant. In Camden, young people in care provide a drop-in service for others and for care leavers, act as peer educators and train officers on their particular circumstances. Young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in Luton are given the opportunity to comment on service provision through annual youth service surveys and are represented on the Luton youth cabinet. In Oxfordshire, rural areas make up around 50 per cent of the county and the report describes how the youth service supports access for young people in rural areas through ‘the creative use of travelling buses, including the rural children’s centre, youth clubs and sexual health advice’.

Economic wellbeing

The report on Leeds notes that a youth worker is based in every secondary school and that this has ‘contributed significantly to the re-engagement of many young people who had previously disengaged from education, employment and training which is improving attendance and raising attainment’. In Luton, the youth service is described as ‘working particularly well’ with disengaged young people, and that as a result these young people ‘achieve very high rates of recorded and accredited outcomes’.

Sixteenth round Joint Area Reviews (JARs) (February 2008)

A further round of Joint Area reviews (JARs) has been published by Ofsted which continues to include an encouraging number of positive references to the role of youth services. JARs explore the extent to which children and young people are healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and secure economic wellbeing.

They focus specifically on children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, those who are looked after and children at risk or requiring safeguarding. They evaluate the collective contribution made by all relevant children’s services to outcomes for these groups. There are further sections on equality and diversity and safeguarding, and additional investigations are carried out into issues such as child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), other health inequalities, and the 14-19 strategy.

A total of nine reports have been published in this round which show that youth services are contributing in particular to young people’s health and wellbeing and to helping vulnerable young people make a positive contribution.

While it is sometimes difficult to detect youth services’ contribution to partnership work, scrutiny of accompanying youth service inspection reports reveal instances where youth services are involved in multi-agency work highlighted in JARs.

Equality and diversity

The report on Bracknell Forest notes that the ‘embedded inclusive practice and outreach work of youth services’ ensures that all young people in the area are well served. In particular, it states that good practice in youth work incorporates anti-racist and strives to tackle homophobic harassment. The Shadow Board in Derby is described as providing ‘imaginative strategies’ to help raise young people’s awareness of racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination, and the report notes that ‘several young people interviewed provided poignant testimony to the effectiveness of this work’.

Safeguarding

The Shadow Board in Derby is also described as a ‘particularly good example’ of how the council works with children and young people to develop and monitor services. The report uses as an example a meeting organised around the theme of staying safe, where young people were able to use their own direct experiences to enable officers to gain a better understanding of issues relating to gang culture.

Being healthy

In Derby, the youth service works together with family nurse partnership practitioners to provide young people with information about safe sexual health behaviours, and the report notes that evaluation of case histories shows that this is having a positive effect on the lives of individuals. The youth service is also involved in Spaceman, a boys and young men’s sexual health project; the Angels project for girls and young women; and Delay training, focused on preventing teenage pregnancies and promoting sexual health. All these initiatives have proved popular with young people – for example, in 2006-07 over 200 young men attended Spaceman sessions.

Two partnership projects between the local Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the youth service are highlighted in the report on Knowsley. The THINK clinics deliver a wide ranging programme of health promotion and are well regarded by young people – over 2,700 young people used the clinics in 2006-07. The mobile clinic ‘Clinic in a Box’ is described as ‘excellent’, targeting geographical hotspot areas and working effectively in youth work settings.

In Bracknell Forest, a range of individual support, mentoring, group work and coaching sessions on social skills, bullying and relationships education are provided by the NRG youth project in partnership with CAMHS, the Behaviour Support Team (BST) and an educational psychologist. The youth service in Wandsworth is involved in promoting healthy eating, through breakfast clubs and cooking sessions, particularly for young men. Hammersmith and Fulham youth service, along with Connexions, provides young people with ‘good support for emotional health problems’.

Making a positive contribution

Local democracy

The report on Leicestershire notes that the children and young people’s partnership takes young people’s views seriously and ‘uses a good range of formal and informal means of gaining them’. The annual ‘Vox Pop’ event for young people has been established for ten years and enables young people to meet directly with elected members and senior officers to raise issues and concerns. The report describes how at the latest event, young people from Loughborough raised concerns about a lack of facilities which led directly to a £600,000 investment to extend youth work facilities at a local community centre. In Derby, young people are provided with ‘extensive opportunities to contribute to service development and review’ through the Shadow Board, neighbourhood fora and school councils, all of which actively include young people with disabilities. In Gloucestershire, the youth service ‘has successfully engaged with young people to help develop its services’. Young people in Liverpool were involved in the development of an anti-bullying strategy for the authority.

Anti-social behaviour

The multi-disciplinary ‘Hustle’ initiatives involving youth workers in Knowsley, are described as providing ‘effective diversionary activity for large groups of young people at weekends’. Targeted street work is also highlighted as being ‘of good quality and responsive to incidents of anti-social behaviour’. In Liverpool, the youth service works with the police to deliver a targeted project which addresses racially aggravated offences. The report on Wandsworth notes that young people perceive anti-social behaviour by gangs in the area to be an urgent problem. In response, the authority plans to relocate its youth facilities into more central areas to help combat the problem and encourage inclusiveness.

Supporting vulnerable young people

In Bracknell Forest, young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities have access to leisure and recreational opportunities specifically to meet their needs through holiday youth schemes run in partnership with Disability Challengers and the Kerith Konnections youth club. Groups of young people with learning difficulties have also been supported to apply for Youth Opportunity funding to organise and develop their own activities. In Leicestershire, voluntary groups and specialist youth workers actively promote participation in both specialist and integrated settings, and the report notes that participation by young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities has increased by 32 per cent in the last year. The report on Knowsley states that children and young people with disabilities have ‘good opportunities to contribute their views’ through the youth forum and the youth parliament. Others are supported to act as mentors to younger children in out-of-school activities. The Fusion and Splice projects in Liverpool have helped youth centres and other partners develop skills and training to support young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

The youth service in North Lincolnshire is described as providing ‘a good contribution’ to the opportunities available to looked after young people, and their voice is promoted through the X-press Forum. The youth service also funded a trip to the Beamish Heritage Museum and a residential break in response to requests from siblings of children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. In Derby, looked after young people are described as making ‘a valuable contribution to the work of the Shadow Board and to the consultation activities organised through Kids In Care In Control (KICK)’, which led to equal pocket money allowances for all looked after children. ‘Very good work’ is also undertaken by the youth service to provide opportunities for young deaf people to meet together and to access universal services.

The report on Leicestershire states that ‘the youth service effectively meets the needs of priority groups such as BME young people, young people from Traveller communities, young carers, young people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual and refugees and asylum-seeking young people’. The youth service in Hammersmith and Fulham ‘is reaching high numbers of young Black men, who are achieving well’. In Liverpool, youth workers engage successfully with young Somalis and Yemeni. In Gloucestershire, ‘youth services have delivered effectively in rural areas’, where young people are helped to access information by a telephone helpline and texting service.

Economic wellbeing

The youth service in Liverpool contributes to the programme of activities provided by the Ethnic Minority and Traveller Education Service (EMTAS) which is described as effectively supporting young people newly arrived in the country. In Hammersmith and Fulham, the youth service is one of a number of partners working ‘very effectively’ with specialist personal advisers at the One Stop Shop, ‘providing good links between the education service and other specialist agencies’.