Paul Oginsky, the adviser on youth policy to David Cameron declares:

“If youth work is being closed down, then youth workers aren’t communicating how effective and beneficial youth work is to their local authority.”

Go to Oginsky’s Clichés for a glimpse into his amazing grasp of youth work history, policy and practice.

I was moved to the following understated response on the Children and Young People Now Forum. It begins:

Evidently Paul Oginsky is ‘chirpy and down-to-earth’, a chummy fellow-traveller – despite their differing backgrounds – of the smooth-talking, privileged Etonian, David Cameron. Viewed through a different lens he strikes me as being bloody cheeky, on another planet and a Tory toadie. Now call me old-fashioned, but I expect an adviser on youth policy to have some knowledge of the history of youth work and youth policy. However Oginsky reveals himself to be both ignorant and arrogant, knowing little, being no more than the empty voice of the oh-so meaningful, yet meaningless sound-bite.

We are told, ‘there’s been a disconnect between youth and community’ with not the slightest understanding that the question of the relationship between young people and their communities has long been a central issue in our work. We might ask if he knows of the existence of the Milson-Fairbairn Report, Youth and Community Work in the 70’s,which drew on Etzioni’s notion of the ‘Active Society’. I won’t press the obvious irony. On a personal level across 40 years how come I have sought to be a youth and community worker, a District Community Education Officer and a Chief Youth and Community Officer if I thought these were two separate rather than deeply interrelated things?

As for the assault upon the national network of youth clubs, already underway before and during the New Labour years, Oginsky does youth and community lecturers a favour by coming up with a new assignment title. ‘The present government is so deeply concerned about local youth services that it wishes to encourage contestability at a local level. If you understand what this means, discuss.’

We are told that Oginsky is evangelical about personal and social development. So much so that he now he is available for a fee to enlighten us about its importance.. Let’s forget that youth work pioneers such as Josephine Macalister Brew were utterly committed fifty years ago to the personal and social growth of young people, the Albemarle Report of 1959 created a Youth Service founded upon a desire to promote personal and social awareness. Back in 1967 Bernard Davies and Alan Gibson wrote the classic The Social Education of the Adolescent , which was a mite concerned about personal and social development. Given that the Coalition’s strategy is to smash ideologically and financially the best outcomes of this societal consensus, we are prompted to ask the born-again evangelist, Oginsky, who do you think you are, what are you up to and what have you to say beyond a few stale clichés?

As for his clincher, that if youth work is being closed down, youth workers are to blame, you have to be stunned by its simplistic stupidity. It is evidently sod all to do with the greedy excesses of the powerful, who now wish us to pay for their financial crisis. Back in 1994 I was the Chief Officer of a Youth Service devastated by post-Poll tax attacks on local government spending. I was beside myself with guilt. In the midst of this I was taken aside by the former charismatic Director of Education, Charles Hopkinson, by then a leading councillor, to be assured that our demise was nothing to do with a failure to make our case. Our reports were impressive and thorough. We were quite simply the first port of call when it came to cuts. By and large the situation isn’t that much different today. Which is why a defence of youth work must be at one and the same time the defence of all education and welfare provision, which itself must come under the control and scrutiny of both users and workers.

And for all you, youth workers, who haven’t come up to scratch, Oginsky’s outfit run days such as the following:

If only you had such imagination, you would never be cut!!

During On Your Marks the young people will:

  1. work in small groups
  2. take part in fun activities
  3. learn and develop skills
  4. begin to think about their personal goals
  5. start to share their views and feelings with others.

On Your Marks will help them to:

  1. reflect on where they are and where they want to get to in life
  2. start to feel motivated and take responsibility for themselves and others
  3. start to make meaningful use of their time
  4. identify the skills they’ll need to get to where they want to be
  5. log hours towards a UK Youth Achievement Award (if they wish to)
  6. gain the Get on Track bronze certificate for successfully completing this stage.

You have to admit you wish you had come up with this mind-blowing breakthrough. Ah well, we can’t all be innovative entrepreneurs.

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