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.
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?