Jumping the Gun? The NYA to launch the Institute for Youth Work on September 1st

From the beginning we have been ambivalent about the proposed Institute for Youth Work, but have sought to be usefully involved in the process. Conscious of significant disagreement within our own ranks and the youth work field in general we have counseled caution as to the pace of events. Nevertheless the NYA has circulated the following announcement:

I am sure you are aware that there have long been plans to create an Institute for Youth Work (IYW).  The DfE originally funded a two year programme to develop the concept of the Institute (as part of the Catalyst Consortium) and now we are pleased to announce that IYW will launch 1st September.


This is an exceptional opportunity for individuals working with young people to join an organisation dedicated to promoting the highest professional standards of youth work and  be part of a ‘collective voice’ within the sector. As the information sheet shows (see below) members will have access to CPD opportunities and regular information on sector policy development and will sign up to an ethical framework for youth work.


Could I encourage you to circulate and display the attached information sheet, as well as promote the Institute for Youth Work as widely as possible within your organisation amongst all staff and volunteers working with young people.


However, beyond that, as a major player within the sector, we would like to invite you to become an ‘Organisational Supporter’, endorsing and promoting IYW to your staff and volunteers.  For £1,000 per annum you will be enabling any of them to join for half price, a benefit and encouragement they are sure to appreciate. Supporters will be listed on a dedicated page on the IYW website with a link through to their own sites. We are of course happy to discuss the Institute with you or your colleagues should you have any questions. Please call Alkesh Patel in the first instance on 0116 242 7350.

IYW Information Sheet and Flyer

From an IDYW perspective as ever we would encourage supporters to disseminate the information as widely as possible.

For the moment though two areas of concern leap off the page.

1. The NYA in its leading role continues to fudge the fundamental issues of what today is to be defined as youth work and what constitutes the youth sector. To pose these dilemmas is not an expression of ‘theological narcissism’ as Tom Wylie would have it – see his comment here. It is simply an expression of the need to be clear and precise – we might even say rigorous – about what we mean by youth work and the youth sector.

In contrast the IYW information sheet talks blandly of engaging ‘with all those in the youth sector who work to enable young people to develop holistically and to reach their full potential.’ Whilst the Draft Code of Ethics out of the blue speaks of youth work as being about ‘intervention, prevention and informal education’. Thus boundaries are blurred. Perhaps this is inevitable, necessary and good. If so, let’s be open and honest about the state of flux.

2. The Draft Code of Ethics, to which we must sign up to be accepted, is out for consultation.  Early signs indicate a range of concerns, not least the nature of the machinery, which might expel someone for transgressing the code. In this context is it not somewhat premature to embark on a recruitment campaign?

At this moment in time would you join up or is NYA jumping the gun?



  1. Thanks for the name check ,Tony ! . I am very clear what youth work is ;I just don’t want us to waste time and influence by agonising over its exact boundaries with a new opposition spokesperson.For me, 3 key features make an activity with young people ‘youthwork’ : a focus on their personal and social development; the use of a distinct methodology, notably experiential learning and the conscious engagement of a trusted adult ; the adoption by those adults of a set of values (those originally formulated by Bernard Davies). If the proposed Institute enlists people who broadly subscribe to those principles, that’s fine by me. In the week when the Dept of Education casts aside 75 years of history by giving up its responsibility for youthwork,shouldn’t IDYW be drawing attention to that surrender ?

  2. Thanks, Tom, for keeping the comments flowing- just wish more folk would join in!
    In the midst of a post re the shift from DfE to the Cabinet Office, but got bogged down in trying to read the self-congratulatory Positive for Youth progress update, according to which today’s young people generally feel a sense of well-being.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.