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Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People and Education Committee

10/05/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Hefin David AM
John Griffiths AM
Julie Morgan AM
Llyr Gruffydd AM
Lynne Neagle AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Mark Reckless AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Catrin James Cydlynydd Rhanbarthol, Cyngor Cymreig y Gwasanaethau Ieuenctid Gwirfoddol
Regional Co-ordinator, Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Service
Catriona Williams Prif Weithredwr, Plant yng Nghymru
Chief Executive, Children in Wales
Chris Richards Swyddog Datblygu—Young Wales, Plant yng Nghymru
Development Officer—Young Wales, Children in Wales
Emma Chivers Cadeirydd Bwrdd yr Ymddiriedolwyr, Ieuenctid Cymru
Chair of Board of Trustees, Youth Cymru
Joanne Sims Cadeirydd Grŵp Prif Swyddogion Ieuenctid Cymru a Rheolwr Gwasanaethau Ieuenctid, Blaenau Gwent
Chair of the Wales Principal Youth Officers’ Group and Youth Services Manager, Blaenau Gwent
Joff Carroll Is-gadeirydd Cyngor Cymreig y Gwasanaethau Ieuenctid Gwirfoddol a Phrif Swyddog Gweithredol Clybiau Bechgyn a Merched Cymru
Vice-chair of the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services and Chief Executive Officer of Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Wales
Julia Griffiths Prif Swyddog Gweithredol ar y Cyd dros Dro, Ieuenctid Cymru
Joint Acting Chief Executive Officer, Youth Cymru
Marco Gil-Cervantes Trysorydd Cyngor Cymreig y Gwasanaethau Ieuenctid Gwirfoddol a Phrif Swyddog Gweithredol ProMo Cymru
Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services Treasurer and Chief Executive Officer of ProMo Cymru
Paul Glaze Prif Swyddog Gweithredol, Cyngor Cymreig y Gwasanaethau Ieuenctid Gwirfoddol
Chief Executive Officer, Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Service
Steve Davis Is-gadeirydd Grŵp Prif Swyddogion Ieuenctid Cymru a Rheolwr Gwasanaethau, Ieuenctid Sir Benfro
Vice-chair of the Principal Youth Officers' Group and Services Manager, Pembrokeshire Youth
Tim Opie Swyddog Polisi Dysgu Gydol Oes—Ieuenctid, Cymdeithas Llywodraeth Leol Cymru
Lifelong Learning Policy Officer—Youth, Welsh Local Government Association

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Gareth Rogers Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Sian Thomas Ymchwilydd
Researcher

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

Good morning and welcome to the Children, Young People and Education Committee. We've received apologies for absence from Darren Millar and from Michelle Brown, and there are no substitutions. Can I ask if there are any declarations of interest, please?

A gaf i ddatgan budd fel un o lywyddion anrhydeddus Cyngor Cymreig Gwasanaethau Ieuenctid Cymru?

May I declare that I am one of the honorary presidents of the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services?

2. Gwaith Ieuenctid—Dilyniant: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 1
2. Youth Work—Follow-up: Evidence Session 1

Item 2 then is an evidence session on our follow-up on our youth work inquiry—an evidence session with CWVYS. I'm very pleased to welcome Joff Carroll, who is vice-chair of CWVYS and chief executive officer of Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Wales, Marco Gil-Cervantes, who is CWVYS treasurer and chief executive officer of ProMo Cymru, Catrin James, CWVYS regional co-ordinator, and Paul Glaze, chief executive officer of CWVYS. Thank you all very much for attending this morning, and, if you're okay with it, we'll go straight into questions. And the first questions are from Llyr Gruffydd.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Bore da. Y tro diwethaf buoch chi ger ein bron ni fel rhan o'r ymchwiliad, mi rannoch chi bryderon sylweddol gyda ni ynglŷn â chyflwr y gwasanaeth ieuenctid, ac roedd hynny yn ôl yn 2016, wrth gwrs. Felly, a gaf i ofyn: beth yw eich asesiad chi o'r darlun cyffredinol ar gyfer gwasanaethau ieuenctid erbyn hyn, 2018? I ba raddau y mae pethau wedi newid, neu beidio?

Thank you very much. Good morning. The last time you were before us as part of our inquiry, you did share significant concerns with us about the state of youth services, and that was back in 2016, of course. So, may I ask: what is your assessment of the overall picture for youth services by now, in 2018? To what extent have things changed, or not?

I can pick that up. Good morning. Yes, some issues are still the same, in respect of cuts being made to services, particularly within local authorities and the organisations that we represent as CWVYS, i.e. the voluntary sector youth organisations. At the time, at the initial inquiry stage, we were suggesting that around 30 per cent of our membership were teetering on the brink or having difficulties in continuing. We've seen nothing to suggest that that's changing necessarily, although those organisations are trying to be as resilient as possible and deliver the best that they can in difficult circumstances. There's some really good success stories too and part of that, I think, is in terms of the partnership and collaborative work that goes on and has been developed over time.

From a broader perspective, in relation to the strategy and the delivery of that, the officials that we're working with at the moment made quite a positive and powerful statement at the start of their tenure, which was in August last year, when they said that they had no background or understanding necessarily of youth work. And we thought that was quite a—. We respect that honesty and that's something we can work with. So, from that perspective, we think we've got—. There's much more to be done, but that's a sound basis from which to work in the future. So, we're optimistic in that sense. There's a lot of work that needs to be done still, so we're willing to play our part in that. But the overall environment is still one where local authority services and also organisations that we represent are still having a difficult time in relation to resource. One of the questions that we picked up on during the last evidence session was around leadership. And that's something that we are keen to see from the new Minister and we're supportive of what's been said so far in relation to the potential future direction for youth services. I don't know whether my colleagues would agree, but that's my perspective on things, if that answers the question.

Ie. A oes rhywun eisiau ychwanegu rhywbeth?

Yes. Does anyone want to add anything?

For me, I think there's just been—. I find there's been a positive way forward in terms of attitude, of working with the sector to provide the knowledge of the sector to Welsh Government and bring that in to be able to be part of the whole strategy, because, without that, I think, we're all going to end up struggling. And, when money is tight, you need to do that even further—to do that to bring in all those strengths. So, I do see a change there, and I hope that continues.

Ocê. Mae yna gwpl o wahanol agweddau felly i hynny, buaswn i'n meddwl. Fe ddown ni'n ôl at yr adnoddau mewn munud, achos mae honno'n broblem amlwg. O safbwynt perthynas y sector gyda'i gyd-rannau oddi mewn i'r sector a hefyd gyda'r Llywodraeth, a ŷch chi'n teimlo bod pethau'n llawer mwy positif nawr nag oedden nhw yn 2016? A ŷch chi'n teimlo bod y berthynas yn fwy adeiladol, bod yna fwy o ymddiriedaeth, a bod y cyfeiriad—? A ydy'r sector yn ei gyfanrwydd yn symud i'r un cyfeiriad wrth edrych ymlaen?

Okay. So, there are a couple of different aspects to that, I would have thought. We will return to the resources later, because that is an obvious problem. But, in relation to the relationship between the sector and its component parts and also with the Government, do you feel that things are much more positive now than they were in 2016? Do you feel that the relationship is more constructive, that there's more trust, and that the direction—? Is the sector as a whole moving in the same direction, looking forward?

09:35

O ran y llythyr, ac yn y gynhadledd gwaith ieuenctid, yn bendant, roedd yr awyrgylch yn fwy positif, ac roedd yna ymdeimlad o symud ymlaen. Rydw i'n credu beth sy'n bwysig nawr yw bod y momentwm yna yn parhau. Y sefyllfa ar hyn o bryd yw bod yn dal—fel corff cenedlaethol, rydw i hefyd yn gweithio i Urdd Gobaith Cymru—angen curo ar 22 drws yr awdurdodau lleol ac mynd i siarad a thrafod a chreu perthynas. Felly, mewn ffordd, mae yna sawl model gwaith ieuenctid yn digwydd mewn 22 a mwy o sefydliadau, achos, fel mudiadau unigol, mae gennym ni ein dulliau ein hunain o weithredu, ac rwy'n mawr obeithio y bydd y strategaeth genedlaethol, pan ddaw hi mewn, a gyda'r bwrdd interim yn gweithio arni hi, yn mynd i fedru gwneud rhywbeth mwy cydlynus a strategaeth fwy cydlynus yn genedlaethol. 

In terms of the letter, and in the conference on youth work, definitely, the atmosphere was more positive, and there was a feeling of moving forward. I think what's important now is that that momentum continues. The situation at the moment is that there is still—as a national body, I also work for Urdd Gobaith Cymru—a need to knock on the 22 doors of the local authorities and discuss with them and create a relationship with them. So, in a way, there are many models in relation to youth work happening in 22 and more bodies and organisations because, as individual organisations, we have our own methods of working and I very much hope that the national strategy, when it will be implemented, and with the interim board working on it, will be able to achieve something more coordinated and a strategy that's more coordinated on a national level.

Sorry, just to follow up on that, I think Catrin's absolutely right, but a good deal of progress has been made in relation to, for example, the youth work reference group and the way that works and the way that is being used more as a reference group these days, I would say. And that's important in terms of that tone. The report that—I'm sure we'll get into this later, in relation to Margaret Jervis's report, 'Our Future', which was an important piece of work for the sector. The other issue for us, and the other important issue for us—. And the emphasis now is on youth work, as opposed to youth support services, which was the original intention of the review into extending entitlement, of course. So, that was a really positive thing, from our perspective, in relation to the concentration on youth work as opposed to youth support services.

We also, of course, have the announcement that there will be an interim youth work board, with a new chair to be appointed early next month, we understand. So, there are things in place potentially to move things on in a positive sense. I guess, as somebody said to me last week—one of our members—'Talk is cheap; we just need to make things happen.' And I think it's incumbent on the sector as a whole, within its component parts, to assist that process. There's also a positive reflection on the influence and shaping that young people can provide in this process too, which was something that perhaps has been lacking in the past. So, that's something we're positive about.

So, the right noises seem to be being made; it's just about making it happen now. The only thing I would say in relation to your initial point about the context of the sector as a whole, is that, again, people—I'm talking about the organisations that we represent and ourselves—see the development of an interim board as a positive step. We understand it has a two-year role, so the interim nature is of two years, but, as people are saying to us, 'Well, what happens in the meantime?' If that board is in a position to develop a business case for youth work, which is a positive thing, things being difficult as they are in certain areas, how likely is that to—? Will that get worse or better over those two years? And that raises other questions in relation to the interaction between that board and the sector as well. So, I'm not sure whether that answers your question, but, in terms of the context, that's how we see it from a strategic perspective, but, operationally, it may be different.

We recognise there's a real need to work more closely with local authority youth services. We've recently had a meeting with the principal youth officers' group in north Wales, which was kindly facilitated by Jane Williams from Conwy, which I felt was very, very positive. There's a need to look at a more strategic approach to what we're doing. We're working across the region anyway, but, if we're going to offer young people more value, added value service, I think there is a definite need for the voluntary sector to work more closely with local authority services.

Ocê, iawn. Diolch yn fawr iawn am hynny. Rydw i yn meddwl bod y pwynt ynglŷn a momentwm yn bwysig, oherwydd byddem ni i gyd yn awyddus i sicrhau nad oes yna ddim momentwm yn cael ei golli. Mi gyfeiriodd Paul gynnau at y 30 y cant o aelodau nad oedd yn rhagweld y bydden nhw'n goroesi, efallai, o reidrwydd, y tu hwnt i ddiwedd y flwyddyn ariannol nôl yn 2016. Wel, rydw i'n tybio eu bod nhw wedi, ar y cyfan, goroesi. Roeddech chi'n cyfeirio at fwy o gydweithio ac yn y blaen. Hynny yw, rydw i'n cymryd bod yr un broblem yn dal yna, mae'r un gofid yn dal yna; rydw i'n tybio ei fod ef yna i'r un graddau. Felly sut maen nhw wedi goroesi? Hynny yw, nid wyf i eisiau awgrymu nad oes yna ddim gofid, ond yn amlwg maen nhw wedi llwyddo i barhau â'u gwaith. Roeddech chi'n awgrymu efallai bod mwy o gydweithio a rhyw bethau felly'n digwydd. 

Okay, fine. Thank you very much for that. I think that the point about momentum is important, because I'm sure we'd all be keen to ensure that no momentum is lost. Now, Paul referred earlier to the 30 per cent of members who did not envisage that they would necessarily survive beyond the next financial year back in 2016. Well, I suspect that they have, in the main, survived. You referred to greater collaboration and so forth. Now, I take it that the same problem still exists and the same concerns still exist. I take it that it's there to the same extent. So, how have they survived? I don't want to suggest that there isn't any concern, but, clearly, they have managed to continue their work. So, could you talk a little bit more about that for us, please?

Sure. We've seen, for example, in terms of our membership—our membership is renewed on an annual basis, so, for us, it's about retaining those members. So, the ones who come back to us, we know that they are still out there and we're still in touch with them. We do know that some of those no longer exist. So, that is a fact and that has happened.

The voluntary youth worth sector, in its experience, in its knowledge, in its talent—and I'm sitting here with people whose organisations range from 40 years to nearly 100 years in existence, so they have a track record and an understanding of the need of how to be resilient and robust and usually find a way to do that. Sometimes that's by working in partnership with other organisations as well, but they have a defined set of constitutional rules by which they operate, and so they find a way to make that happen. That could be in collaboration with local authorities and/or with other voluntary sector organisations too. And they are very good at talking to funders about the benefits and the potential benefits of the work that they deliver.

As CWVYS, we're trying to develop support for consortia-style bids, for example, and that brings partners together and is more cohesive sometimes for some funders to see that being played out across a wider geographical area, and they get more for their pound—or their euro, of course, as things are at the moment. So, that's a positive way of looking at things. We try to encourage that as much as we can. So, it might sound a trite thing to say, but they've existed for that long because they have that ethos behind them and they're willing to go that extra mile, I would suggest, to ensure that they're providing better services for young people as a result of that.

09:40

Ac mae’r ffaith eu bod nhw’n dal yn aelodau o CWVYS ddim o reidrwydd yn golygu nad yw’r corff neu’r mudiad ei hunan wedi crebachu’n sylweddol oherwydd y toriadau, wrth gwrs, hefyd, ontefe? So, mae hynny’n rhywbeth inni gadw mewn cof.

Jest yn olaf gen i—yn amlwg, mae’r cyd-destun ariannu yn un anodd. Rwy’n cofio mi welsom ni, fel rhan o’r ymchwiliad a wnaethom ni, fod cyfanswm incwm awdurdodau lleol ar gyfer gwaith ieuenctid wedi cwympo o dros £40,000 yn 2013-14 i dros—sori, £40 miliwn, ddylwn i ddweud, tipyn o wahaniaeth, yn 2013-14 lawr i £31 miliwn yn 2016-17. Mae rhywun yn tybio bod y wasgfa yna a’r trend yna’n parhau, ond, o gofio hynny felly, y cwestiwn yw: i ba raddau mae cynnig gwaith ieuenctid cyffredinol Llywodraeth Cymru yn un realistig o fewn y cyd-destun yna?

And the fact that they're still members of CWVYS doesn't necessarily mean that the organisation itself hasn't significantly shrunk because of the cuts. So, that is also something we should bear in mind.

Just finally from me—obviously, the funding context is a difficult one. I do remember we saw as part of our inquiry that the total local authority income for youth work had reduced from over £40,000—sorry, £40 million I should say, quite a difference—in 2013-14 down to £31 million in 2016-17. One suspects that those pressures and that trend continues, but, bearing that in mind, the question then is: to what extent is the Welsh Government's universal youth work offer realistic in that context?

I guess for us—and in terms of our evidence that we provided in the most recent written evidence— it's around the non-hypothecation of the revenue support grant and how that is used, and whether that's used to its fullest extent within a local authority area. That's still an issue for us. There are some local authorities—. And it's only fair to pay tribute to those that go as far as they can with the amount that they have within that allocation, but there are still others that spend a lot less than others. So, that offer, necessarily, is different across the whole of Wales from a local authority perspective. Organisations that we work with and represent have their own offers within that too. So, a young person could be in receipt of a variety of offers. The issue for us, I guess, is the parity of that offer and where that does or doesn't exist.

Hefyd, os ŷch chi’n edrych ar y cyfanswm gwariant o £31 miliwn, mae'r canran sydd yn mynd i’r sector gwirfoddol yn ganran bach ohono. Felly, yn ei gyfanrwydd, mae’r arian sy’n mynd i waith ieuenctid yng Nghymru yn llawer mwy na’r £31 miliwn. Ac mae yna sôn am gael yr un lefel o gydnabyddiaeth ac yn cael ein gweld fel rhan annatod o’r cynnig i waith ieuenctid yng Nghymru.

Ond, wrth ddilyn hynny trwodd, wrth weithio mewn partneriaeth gydag awdurdodau lleol, rŷm ni hefyd bron yn cyd-ariannu, oherwydd rŷm ni’n ychwanegu gwerth. Ac felly rwy’n credu bod hynny’n bwysig i’w cydnabod wrth sôn am y £31 miliwn. Mae beth yr ŷm ni’n ei wneud fel sector yn fwy na hynny.

Gan siarad am yr Urdd, 20 y cant o’n cyllid ni sy’n dod o ffynonellau cyhoeddus o unrhyw fath. Felly, mae beth yr ŷm ni’n cyfrannu’n ôl i bobl ifanc yng Nghymru, ar ein rhan ni i gyd, rydw i’n credu, yn llawer mwy na £31 miliwn. Ond beth sydd ei angen arnom ni yw gweld dull tryloyw o ran sut mae’r £31 miliwn yna yn cael ei gwario fel ein bod ni’n gallu gweld sut mae hi’n cynorthwyo pobl ifanc a sut rŷm ni'n gallu hefyd ychwanegu gwerth at gynnig yr awdurdodau lleol trwy weithio mewn partneriaeth neu gynnig gwasanaeth sydd yn ychwanegu gwerth at gynnig yr awdurdod lleol, a vice versa, mewn ffordd.

Also, if you look at the total spend of £31 million, the percentage that goes to the voluntary sector is a small percentage of that. So, as a whole, the money that goes towards youth work in Wales is much more than £31 million. And there is talk about having the same level of recognition and being seen as an important part of the youth work offer in Wales.

But, in following that through, in working in partnership with local authorities, we are also joint funding almost, because we're adding value. And I think that's important to acknowledge when there is talk about the £31 million. What we're doing as a sector is more than that.

Talking from the Urdd's point of view, 20 per cent of our funding comes from public sources. So, what we contribute back to young people in Wales, on behalf of all of us, is much more than that £31 million. But what we require is to see a transparent method of how that £31 million is spent so that we can see how it assists young people and how we can also add value to the local authorities' offer in working in partnership or in offering a service that adds value to the local authority offer, and vice versa, in a way.

Yes, if I could, Chair, thanks. I was interested in what you said about co-ordination and working together because I know that there can be many players in the field—the local authority, various voluntary bodies, the police, perhaps, some of the new leisure trusts that have been created, and so on. And I just wonder to what extent there's mapping going on to look at who is doing what and how it might be pulled together more effectively and whether that's been part of the well-being assessments and plans and public services board work.

09:45

Yes, there's a lot there in terms of potential for collaboration, and traditionally, I suppose, we've looked at it in terms of local authority youth services and the voluntary sector in terms of the delivery of those services, but more and more, we're working with other bodies. You mentioned the police, and for CWVYS, we've got very good working relationships with the police and crime commissioners, for example, throughout Wales, and that's thrown up some really positive examples of collaborative working. Just to pick on one example, Dyfed-Powys have paid for a pilot programme for 12 months, with a couple of our members in west Wales, looking at issues of substance misuse and also rurality as well. That's one example, so that's happening in other areas, but there's plenty of potential in other places too—the health sector, of course, and the adverse childhood experiences agenda. We're working with those agencies.

In terms of the mapping, I think we recognise—. I was in a meeting yesterday with the Principal Youth Officers' Group and the Welsh Local Government Association about the need to look at that and how we map those services, and also how we represent ourselves as a sector on other bodies where youth work needs to have a role and needs to have a place, or at least a voice in those discussions. One of the examples was about the national arson reduction programme, for example, where youth work can have a real positive role to play in that.

In terms of PSBs, and, again, if somebody else wants to pick up on this, they may have a different view, but for us, it's early days and we don't see much traction there in relation to issues that affect young people directly. So, we'd be keen to work more in tandem with PSBs on those issues. I suppose for us, from a third sector perspective, county voluntary councils hold a seat on the PSBs, so there's some work to be done there in relation to us prompting those representatives in terms of the work that youth work does within those PSB areas.

We're working with North Wales Police on a Friday night football project, which is going very, very well. It's attracting disengaged young people who are pretty much hanging about on street corners. We're working with the community policy officers to attract them into doing something more positive. So, it started with football—we'll start there—but obviously it could grow into other activities. We encourage local police officers to visit—. We have over 170 clubs throughout Wales, so, yes, the mapping would be handy just to see where we are actually providing a service. Most of them are community clubs, so we do invite a local police force to come in and speak to our young people, particularly about anti-social behaviour and other things that are relevant, really, to young people in the community.

I think from my end, there are the resources to be able to map. So, as an individual organisation, you do the links you can. You work hard to make those links, and I think in the voluntary sector you have to do those things. I think, across the board we'll do that, and we have links with SchoolBeat, who go into all schools in Wales for us and highlight the Meic project. That's literally every school, and without that kind of link, it wouldn't happen. So, I think, in the voluntary sector, we'll always try and make links and we'll always try and do that, but sometimes that's difficult. I'm linked to a PSB, but it's very hard for the voluntary sector to do all that work. At the end of the day, our work is trying to make sure that young people have services, and we could spend so much time, so that there's a balance between all those things.

In terms of survival, I think it's a question of tenacity and innovation—you have to; we have no choice, we have to do things. When you don't have money, you do things. That happens all the time, and that continues.

If I might pick up on that point around the police and police and crime commissioners—a couple of other examples: we've got memoranda of understanding with both South Wales Police and PCC and also with Gwent PCC too. The latter example is something where we've been talking about a child-centred approach to policing within Gwent in particular, and they've also picked up on the fact that they would like to have some youth work training taster sessions for new police community support officers, for example, and for new police officers too. So, there's plenty of potential there to engage with other sectors and other work for the benefit of young people, broadly.

Sometimes, you have to carry out—. Youth information and virtual youth work has been on the strategy for a long time. It's been written into the strategy, but I think the problem is that, sometimes, we have a strategy and we sometimes call it an aspirational strategy, and there isn't a thought for how anything happens after that. That's difficult, but you've got to have aspirations, but then you've got to bring it back. So, sometimes, as a voluntary sector, we have had to say, 'Well, I can't see any developments taking place in youth information.' So, we have to take the initiative, and we've found money elsewhere to do the research to bring into Wales. We still link with the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency at a European level, we still do those things, with no funding that is coming from any public authority. So, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation have helped us to do that. We're able then to gather that research and disseminate it across both the statutory and the voluntary sector, working with CWVYS et cetera, because we know there's support there. Because things like the youth information service in Wales has literally disappeared. We've come from a situation that Robiu Salisu from Newport, whose parents came from Nigeria, was representing European people across Europe—was elected by other European young people to represent youth information services in Europe. That was about six years ago. He went to Croatia with the vice Prime Minister of Croatia and European Commissioner for education, and represented—. Again, he was elected by other European young people. So, that's where we were. Where we are now is that you're very lucky if you have—. It's totally dependent on whether it's the voluntary sector doing it, or if there's some work at a local authority level. But, in a sense, the way forward we've had to take is we've just got to get on with it. Because otherwise we're all waiting. So, we've had to find that money, and we've had to find something, and we'll be able to do that. I'm giving you my case because I know my case. Other people will talk about similar situations. 

09:50

Mae'n gymwys yr un peth gyda ni fel mudiad. I ddod yn ôl at y pwynt ynglŷn â'r byrddau gwasanaethau cyhoeddus, y PSBs, rwy'n credu, fel mudiadau cenedlaethol, ac fel corff ymbarél CWVYS, byddem ni wedi disgwyl mwy o ymwneud â ni fel mudiadau, yn enwedig pan rŷm ni'n edrych ar y cyfraniad rŷm ni'n ei wneud o ran Cymru lewyrchus, cyfleoedd i bobl ifanc ddatblygu sgiliau, y Gymraeg yn ffynnu, a Chymru sy'n gweithredu ar lefel fyd-eang, a'r arian o Ewrop. Ond mae'n ddiwrnodau cynnar, ac rwy'n credu bod hynny'n rhywbeth y mae eisiau inni edrych arno fe o fewn y strategaeth yma, ynghyd hefyd â'r dull o gynllun cynaliadwy i ddatblygu pethau i'r dyfodol, yn hytrach nag edrych ar gyllido yn flynyddol. Rwy'n credu bod yna waith i'w wneud, ac rwy'n siŵr y bydd e'n digwydd o fewn y strategaeth o nawr ymlaen—gobeithio. 

It's precisely the same thing with our organisation. Returning to the point about the public services boards, I think, as national organisations, and as a CWVYS umbrella body, we would have expected greater engagement with us as organisations, particularly when we look at the contribution that we do in terms of a prosperous Wales, offering opportunities for young people to develop skills, in the Welsh language as well, and helping Wales to operate on an international level, and also in terms of European funding. But it is early days, and I think that we need to look at it within this strategy, as well as the method of having a sustainable scheme in terms of developing things for the future, rather than looking at annual funding. I think that there is work to be done there, and I'm sure that it will take place within that strategy from now on—or I hope so.

Thank you, Chair. I wanted to go back, actually, to the leadership stuff that Llyr was asking you about, because the committee's report did ask for the Minister to take a radical approach to a youth work offer for all young people in Wales, and I know you've said you feel things are going in the right direction, if that's what I interpreted. But would you say there was a radical change, have you felt, as a result of our inquiry? It's important for us to know what effect our inquiries have.

I guess it's how you define 'radical', really, in that sense. But I suppose from a youth work perspective, we seem to have a way forward in relation to a timeline, for example, that has been published, and which everyone can see, which says that by December of this year we'll have a new youth work strategy in place. That's relatively radical in terms of timelines—it's something we haven't been used to previously. It's quite a tight timeline. One of the things that's missing from that timeline is consultation with the sector, for example. So, we would be looking for that to be part of that leadership approach in terms of saying we want the sector and young people to be really part of that consultation process. One of the things that came out of the review of the current strategy was the fact that not that many people actually knew that it existed and what it was meant to do. So, from that perspective, we would see that as a positive thing, and radical, in that sense, in terms of engaging young people in particular in that process.

For us, the other issue is about how that leadership manifests itself in terms of the offer for young people. It's something we've suggested for a while, but we seem to be getting closer to the point where we would suggest it would be a good idea for the Minister to stand up in front of a group of young people and say, 'This is the offer that we will be offering you.' And also maybe to have other people from the sector to the side of that room saying, 'And these are the people who are going to be delivering it for you.' And, therefore, it's about that accountability and leadership in the round, really, in order to make that happen. And young people have to be part of that process, as far as we're concerned.

So, in that sense, yes, that is a fairly radical approach. We would hope that the new board will be able to seize that and take on that role, and become even more radical in that sense, nd to pursue everything that's on the list of its specification in terms of what the board is meant to be doing. For example, it's picking up on the recommendations in Margaret Jervis's report, which centres on youth work. So, from our perspective, we'll continue to try and be as radical as we possibly can within the sector, in order to prompt that change for better services for young people.  

09:55

I think from my end, what was radical was the previous move away from youth work, and what this inquiry has done has moved everything, the debate, back onto youth work as core principles that have been there for a long time. I think those core principles have been lost. They've been eradicated, as if history wasn't there, as if that practice wasn't there, and now we're talking about youth work again, and I think that's really key, and that is radical—to bring it back to that discussion about what youth work is about and what we're trying to do, because, otherwise—we were talking about something else, and now we are talking about that. I feel there is a move to—. You know, it's about empowering the sector to be able to be part of that strategy, because if we're not part of it, it won't work. So, that's actually positive, but I just don't want it to move backwards. But at the same time, there's a feeling that, yes, there is that, and that will go a long way, but I think there's still a struggle around resources. That's another struggle, but at least there is a positive way forward for that that I can see. So, that is the radical bit that we've almost come back—  

We've got back to where we should be. We're actually talking about—. We're in a room talking about the right thing, not about something else, because, then, we may as well have gone on holiday. 

A hefyd, pan oeddwn i yma ddiwethaf, roeddwn i'n sôn amboutu'r corff cenedlaethol, ac mae'n braf gweld y corff cenedlaethol yn adroddiad Margaret Jervis y gwnaeth hi ar ymestyn hawliau, a gweld wedi hynny, yn rôl y bwrdd, y byddai'r bwrdd yn cynghori y Gweinidog i weithredu'r argymhellion yn adroddiad Margaret Jervis. O fewn yr adroddiad yna, mae sôn am gorff cenedlaethol, ystyried diogelu gwariant canran ar gyfer gweledigaeth gwaith ieuenctid, a hefyd ymchwilio i sut mae gwariant gwaith ieuenctid yn cael ei ddosrannu yn dryloyw. Felly, rwy'n gobeithio y bydd y rheini yn gweld golau dydd fel rhan o'r cyfeiriad mwy radical o ganlyniad i adroddiad Margaret. 

Also, when I was here before, I was talking about the national body, and it's great to see the national body in the Margaret Jervis report about extending rights, and then seeing, on the role of the board, that the board would advise the Minister to implement the recommendations in Margaret Jervis's report. Within that report, there is talk about a national body, considering safeguarding expenditure percentage for the vision of youth work, and also investigating how the funding of youth work is being distributed transparently. So, I hope that those will see the light of day as part of this more radical direction as a result of Margaret's report.  

Also, I think that youth work is and wants to be radical itself, and it's about how that's matched on a strategic level, really. I think, perhaps, that mismatch over time has caused some of the confusion and some of the issues. I think if we can be seen to be heading in a similar direction with a radical approach, and also to allow those challenges within the sector as well, and that kind of debate that makes it stronger—I think that that's a healthy position to be in, and perhaps, in recent years, that hasn't been the case, but that's something that we'd like to move towards. 

So, these plans have been set in place, and it's about the accountability, I guess, really, of the board, for example, but also of the work that the Minister's set out. And Catrin's point that was made earlier—the momentum of that is absolutely critical.   

So, what do you think the next steps should be following the review? 

Well, the timeline suggests that we'll have a strategy by the end of December. The appointment of the chair to the board, in our view, is absolutely critical, in terms of who that person is going to be. And then, of course, the membership of that board. So, for us, that's the progression, really, and the next question will be about how that board interacts with the sector—whether it is through the current mechanism, which is the youth work reference group, and/or in other ways. So, those are the next challenges, I think.   

Going back to consulting with young people, as Paul has mentioned, you want a cross-section of young people's opinion, not just the usual suspects, as I call them. There should be a cross-section of opinion from young people from all—[Inaudible.]

And do you feel that there hasn't been enough consultation with young people so far? 

I don't think there has, actually. If you go back to the review of the impact of the youth work strategy 2014-18, carried out by Wrexham Glyndŵr University and, I think, Cardiff Metropolitan University, they mention that 57 per cent of young people weren't even aware that there was a youth work strategy, which I found quite concerning. I think that needs addressing, but perhaps we can help with that. Perhaps we haven't done enough to create the awareness amongst our young people. I think that's certainly a point that needs looking at. 

10:00

For me, the other side is—. You talked about moving forward, and there is strategy, but I'd like to see—. I think if we have another strategy, then we just wait until December for a strategy and look at another strategy, and there is no sense of anything happening, I think that's not going to be a good state of affairs to move anybody forward. When I quickly looked at the timetables, we're talking about a timetable to create strategies; I'd like to be developing timetables for something to happen, so that the young people can see something, so young people can be involved, organisations can see something. Otherwise, I think—. I don't want to be looking at a strategy again, as I keep on repeating. I can see things—and I just think it will tie us in and we'll lose the will to push. 

And as Paul has said, I think it's critical that the appointment of the chair—

Next month. It's critical that the right person is in place. I think it's got to be someone who understands youth work and understands the strength and weaknesses of the sector historically and how that can be improved upon. 

I think we would accept, obviously, that the sector has a role to play and it needs to come together and work more collaboratively in that sense, but to coalesce around an offer, so that young people understand what that is, so that everybody's aware of what that offer constitutes. And, of course, locally, you may have differences, and there might be some different variations. We have, as you say, 22 different approaches in terms of local authorities and numerous numbers of other organisations doing that. But as a central offer, it's about the articulation of that, I would suggest. And that's part of that radical approach, because it just hasn't been done before in that sense. 

Well, you certainly seem much more positive than when we saw some of you last. 

We always try to be.

What's your view about Welsh Government establishing the interim youth work board, and what are the implications of this to how the ministerial youth work reference group is working and the degree of engagement with the sector?

We see the creation of the board as a positive thing. Our initial evidence suggested that we were disappointed that the focus has been taken away from what might be a national youth service, for example. That's been put to one side to an extent, in as much as we see the role of the board as looking at the potential for something like a national body in the future. So, we see that as a potential good stepping stone. We've already talked about the membership of that board. We have questions about how many will be on that board and who will they be, so we would be looking for some parity of membership on that board, which is absolutely critical.

In relation to the youth work reference group, that's open to question really, I think, in terms of how the board might want to utilise the existing format. It could be, for example, that it may turn into a working group that works for that board, or several working groups. The reference group has grown in number in terms of membership, so there's potential for that to be used in that regard. So, unfortunately, I don't know the answer to that in terms of what it may become, but it's good to see that we have a board potentially coming in with a list of defined purposes, really. Then it will be accountable on that basis.

Yes. It's linked to something—and I'm going to repeat something here—. For me, the idea of an interim board worries me, because 'interim'—does that mean in the interim you do nothing? That's two years. So, we can't wait two years for something to happen. It's building in that kind of working to start to deliver.

Sorry, but I don't understand why you're concerned that the nature of the body being interim would mean that nothing would happen for a period. 

I'm just going from having looked at a strategy for the last five or six years that hasn't, sometimes, in areas, moved forward at all. So, I'm very concerned that we move from that, and I know it's just a name, but I'm just concerned that it moves from a strategy that we look at and read to something where we say, 'Okay, we can move and do this and do that'—and actual actions. 

A couple of challenges that that board will face is its accountability to the sector, and also how it interacts with that sector. I know I've mentioned that a couple of times, but I think that's absolutely critical in terms of—. Its position can't be—and I'm sure it won't be—an isolated one. It has to be one that engages, because, of course, people will be looking to that board as a positive step and will be looking for it to—. There are certain expectations around that, I would suggest. 

Do you think that board should be accountable to the sector, rather than, say, to Ministers or the Assembly or local government?

I think it's a double-edged thing in many ways. It's a publicly appointed chair, of course—it's accountable to the Minister—but it's about taking account of what the sector may think about certain issues, I would suggest. There's nothing to suspect that they won't be interactive, and I think that would be welcomed. And it's up to us, as the sector, to play our part in giving them the best support that they can get, because we see it as a positive development. 

10:05

I was listening particularly to your comments, Marco, about the idea of a national model for youth work, incorporating statutory and voluntary. I believe our predecessor committee took evidence from you on this and, in response, we recommended that this should happen. I think you've said that this is now even more important than it was in 2016. What has changed?

In that sense, nothing, really, in terms of us saying that it's still as important as it was before. Our disappointment was in relation to the specific recommendation, which didn't seem to be answered, because the answer was about setting up a board, rather than a national body. But that's been ameliorated to an extent by the board taking on the recommendations of other reports that suggest that there is a potential to consider a national body in the future, which we would see as a positive thing. We've cited the example of Youth Scotland, for example, which supports both local authority and voluntary sector organisations. We believe that that's something that Wales could actually achieve in years to come.

We also recommended that young people should have a clear and meaningful route to be equal partners in the development of this work—and I hope people will forgive me if I say that none of us around this table appear to be in the first flush of youth. Is enough being done really to integrate young people and ensure that they, as the users and the potential beneficiaries of the service, are actually driving its design?

You've alluded to the need for genuine participation, and that means that young people don't just get involved in the design of what's being delivered, but also that they own that as well as a longer-term process. So, for example, there has been discussion about whether young people should sit on the interim board, for example, as a positive example of that. The youth work reference group has tried that in the past and it's ebbed and flowed—more ebbing than flowing at times. And, so, I think there's an opportunity there to engage young people at that strategic level. But, of course, there's a lot of active participatory work going on, on a day-to-day basis, within the organisations that we represent, so it's about galvanising that, really, and making sure that young people have the opportunities to engage, whether it's face to face, whether it's digitally, in a wide range of areas. And, actually, it's looking to the sector deliverers as the experts in that in terms of—

You don't currently have any young people on the interim board and you talk of it being more ebb than flow. Why is that? What are the barriers or challenges?

Again, coming back to board membership, we don't know how that's going to work, but it's a suggestion that it would be a good thing to have a young person's voice on that board. We don't know about the make-up of that. The youth work reference group started off with young people on that group and they're no longer on that group. So, there's an opportunity there to return to that and engage. As we said before, that reference group may become a working group or several working groups, but there's an opportunity there for young people to—. We want them to be engaged in that process. As Marco said, if the sector—young peole—aren't part of it, or understand that that work is being done in their name, effectively, then that just won't work. 

All of our organisations will be doing that engagement, but I think we can help to do that. It doesn't always work, in terms of putting someone—a young person—on a board. That isn't always the answer; it's about how you create those channels. And we're happy to work with the interim board to help that to happen, because I think sometimes, there is a lot of work—. Most of our activities are about working in that way: you work with young people; what do they want to do? And they're involved from the core. That's what youth work is about, so we're already doing that. How could our work be engaged with to do that, I think, is—

Some of that is linked to our comments around the aspirational nature of strategies. To make it more meaningful and to give life to that, it's about ensuring that the people who are part of that process and are being asked their opinions of how things ought to be are engaged fully in that process, as opposed to just to that point. I agree with Marco; it's not just about giving young people the opportunity to be on a board. That's one aspect. It's about an ethos, really, and a culture of active participation.

Young people don't always have the confidence to be contributive in that position, really. It's difficult for them to sit in a room of adults. It's difficult for us, but for young people, it clams them up, really. They can't really express themselves in that sort of scenario. I think we get plenty of feedback from young people in the projects and the work that we do, which guides us in planning the future strategy of what we're going to do over the next five years. So, it's important to get feedback from them in that way.

10:10

We're acutely aware also that we are not young people. So, in that sense it's about engaging on young people's terms, really.

To link to that—finally from me—the issue of workforce development, is the sector currently attractive for recruiting people, including young people coming through, to work for it, and is there then sufficient opportunity for progression?

Mae nifer o bobl ifanc am ddatblygu i fod yn arweinyddion ifanc ar lefel wirfoddol, ac yn edrych i gamu ymlaen i gael swydd neu weithio ymhellach gyda phlant a phobl ifanc. Efallai nad yw'r swyddi ar gael ar y cyflogau y mae rhai o'r bobl ifanc yn eu dymuno, oherwydd llymder y sector, ond fel sector, rŷm ni yn hyfforddi'n helaeth yn ein gweithlu. Mae gennym ni gyfleoedd i bobl ifanc ddilyn cymwysterau ac i unigolion ddod mewn i'r sector, ond efallai nad yw'r swyddi na'r cyfleoedd ar gael ar yr ochr arall i'r hyfforddiant. Rŷm ni yn cymryd cyfrifoldeb am ein staff, i'w hyfforddi nhw i'r dyfodol, ac mae yna gynlluniau da ar gyfer lefel 2 a lefel 3 gwaith ieuenctid. Efallai bod angen edrych ar y lefel uwch o hyfforddiant i gael model sy'n fwy addas i'w bwrpas i ddiwallu anghenion sgiliau uwch gwaith ieuenctid. Ond wrth i'r strategaeth newydd ddatblygu, credwn fod angen strategaeth hyfforddi a datblygu ar yr un lefel ac ar yr un pryd â datblygu'r strategaeth honno.

O ran yr Urdd, rŷm ni'n cyflenwi ein swydd, boed yn awyr agored neu'n waith maes yn y cymunedau yn y gogledd ac yn y de. Rŷm ni'n llwyddo i ddenu pobl ifanc i'r swyddi. Ond dyma'r math o swyddi hefyd y mae pobl yn eu defnyddio i gamu ymlaen i swyddi eraill a swyddi gwell, ac mae hwnnw'n un o'r cyfraniadau economaidd yr ydym yn eu gwneud fel mudiadau i yrfaoedd proffesiynol pobl ifanc yng Nghymru.   

Many young people want to develop into being young leaders on a voluntary level, and are looking to step forward to get a job or to work further with children and young people. So, the jobs may not be available with the wages that the young people would have liked because of austerity and its effect in the sector. We do have many opportunities for young people to gain qualifications and for individuals to come into the sector, but the jobs or the opportunities may not be available at the other end of the training. We do take responsibility for our staff in terms of training for the future, and there are good schemes for level 2 and level 3 youth work. Perhaps there is a need to look at the higher level of training and making sure that it is fit for purpose, to meet the needs in terms of the higher skills involved in youth work. But as the new strategy develops, I think there will also need to be a strategy on training and development on the same level and at the same time as the development of that strategy.

In terms of the Urdd, we do fill our posts, whether they are outdoor posts or fieldwork out in the communities in north and south Wales. We do succeed in attracting people to those jobs. But they are also the types of jobs that people use as a stepping stone into other jobs, which may be better jobs. That is one of the economic contributions that we make as organisations to the professional careers of young people in Wales.

Again, I think we will all look for money elsewhere as well. If the funding is not there, we have to create—. We've actually used a social business fund from Europe to get money to run business ventures with young people so they get an apprenticeship. So, we have to also look elsewhere because there isn't—. If there is no industry, if there is no youth work, then we can't falsely train people into a dead end.

We're similar to the Urdd. We encourage young people to look at level 2 and level 3 youth work training, leading them on a pathway to further training and future employment. We've also recently been offered active inclusion funding and working with the private sector to create opportunities for young people to find a pathway to employment there.

[Inaudible.]—Mark Reckless, speaking as the youngest member of the committee. [Laughter.] I had to get that in.

I'm 40. You know; it's all relative. Regarding our recommendation 10, which was that the statutory and voluntary sector should play a central role in curriculum reform, in your response, you said that you are members of the strategic stakeholder group for education reform, which should give you a degree of influence in the development of the curriculum. But you also say that you feel that the main focus remains with schools with regard to the development of the curriculum. So, can you just give us a little bit of a developed answer on how you feel you have influenced, or are influencing, the development of the curriculum? 

Iawn. Diolch yn fawr. Rydym yn aelod o'r grŵp rhanddeiliaid strategol ar ddiwygio'r cwricwlwm. Rwy'n credu ein bod ni wedi mynychu pob un ohonyn nhw. Mae natur y cyfarfodydd yn un lle'r ydym yn derbyn gwybodaeth dda. Rydym yn cael ein diweddaru; rŷm ni'n cael yr updates. Maen nhw'n dweud wrthym ni beth sy'n digwydd. Ond ychydig iawn, ar hyn o bryd, yw'r cyfle i ddylanwadau ar beth sydd i mewn yn y chwe maes dysgu a phrofiad, ac i gael trafodaeth ar yr hyn y maen nhw'n ei baratoi nawr, sef 'what matters'. Mae hynny fel sector, ond fel unigolion, rŷm ni'n gorfod mynd ar ein liwt ein hunain. Nid wyf am ddweud hap a damwain, ond wrth siawns rydym yn cwrdd â rhywun ac yn dweud, 'O, maen nhw ar un o'r grwpiau ysgolion arloesi sydd ar y dyniaethau', a dweud, 'O, mae eisiau paratoi pobl ifanc ar gyfer dealltwriaeth o'r byd o amgylch a dinasyddiaeth.' Felly, nid oes cydlyniant strategol.

Yn y cyfarfodydd, rwyf wedi gofyn cwestiwn i'r swyddogion a chynnig y dylid bod yna lwybr paralel i'r sector i drafod beth sy'n digwydd ym maes diwygio'r cwricwlwm, a beth sydd angen i ni ei wneud o ran ein gweithlu fel ein bod ni'n gallu paratoi ar gyfer y newidiadau, achos mae'n mynd i fod yn ffordd wahanol, gysyniadol, o ddysgu. A, hefyd, rwyf wedi cynnig ein bod ni'n cydweithio mwy i roi'r profiadau sy'n cyfoethogi, ac i ddysgu o'r cyfraniad anffurfiol a heb fod yn ffurfiol sydd gennym ni fel sector i'w gyfrannu i bobl ifanc. Achos yn niwrnodau cynnar y strategaeth—. Roedd 'Dyfodol Llwyddiannus' yn sôn bod gan yr holl brofiadau dysgu gwerth ar gyfer dibenion addysg, ac roedd gan y Cwricwlwm Cymreig, yn yr hydref, weledigaeth yn sôn am brofiadau cyfoethogi yn rhan annatod o'r cwricwlwm a dysgu dwfn. Ac, felly, nid ydym yn cael yr ymdeimlad, ar hyn o bryd, fod camau breision yn digwydd i ddatblygu cyd-berthnasoedd cryf ac ymdeimlad cadarnhaol o gydweithio o fewn y cwricwlwm. Ond, efallai eu bod yn ddiwrnodau cynnar, nid ydym yn gwybod, nid ydym yn rhan o'r sgwrs. 

Right. Thank you very much. We're a member of the strategic stakeholder group on curriculum reform. I think we've attended each one of then. The nature of the meetings is one where we receive good information. We are updated; we have the updates. They tell us what is happening. But, there is very little opportunity at present to influence what's in those six areas of teaching and experience, and to have the discussion on what they are preparing now, namely 'what matters'. That's as a sector, but as individuals, we have to go on our own. I'm not saying it's haphazard, but it's by chance that we meet somebody and say, 'Oh, they're in one of the pioneering schools group on humanities', and say, 'Oh, there is a need to prepare young people for an understanding of the world around them and citizenship.' So, there is no strategic co-ordination. 

In the meetings, I have asked a question to the officials and proposed that there should be a parallel pathway for the sector to discuss what is happening in the area of curriculum reform, and what we need to do in terms of our workforce so that we can prepare for the changes, because it is going to be a different, conceptual, way of teaching. And, also, I have proposed that we work together more to provide those experiences that are enriching, and learn from the informal and not-so-formal contribution that we have as a sector to contribute to young people. Because in the early days of the strategy—. 'Successful Futures' talked about all learning experiences being of value for education purposes, and the Cwricwlwm Cymreig had a vision in the autumn of enriching experiences as an integral part of the curriculum and deep learning. And, so, we don't have the feeling, at the moment, that major strides are being taken to develop strong co-relationships and a positive feeling of collaboration within the curriculum. But, perhaps they are early days, we don't know, we're not part of the discussion. 

10:15

But it sounds like what you're saying is that the strategic stakeholder group isn't very strategic at all. 

Rŷm ni'n cael gwybod beth sy'n digwydd. Rŷm ni'n cael gofyn ein barn ar fframwaith Estyn a phryd dylid cyflwyno pethau ynglŷn â'r Ddeddf Anghenion Dysgu Ychwanegol a’r Tribiwnlys Addysg (Cymru) 2018, ond nid oes dim byd yno i gael trafodaeth. Rydw i'n deall ei fod yn gaeedig a bod yr ysgolion yn gweithio'n galed i ddatblygu'r cwricwlwm— 

We are informed of what happens. Our view is sought on the Estyn framework and when things should be introduced in terms of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018, but there is nothing there that states we have to have a discussion. I understand that it's closed and that the schools are working hard to develop the curriculum— 

Oes, ac rydym yn teimlo ychydig bach ar y tu fas ac nad ydym wedi cael ein gwahodd i'r parti. 

Yes, and we feel slightly left on the outside and that we haven't been invited to the party, as it were.

I think it's fair to say that we were very optimistic when, as a result of the Donaldson report and 'Successful Futures', there was an open door policy, if you like, in relation to non-formal and informal learning and, so, obviously that's where we would play a part. We'll keep chipping away, as we always do, and that's something that we'll continue to do. Again, for us, it's about the correlation between the work that's been done strategically in terms of youth work and we would hope, for example—and we would expect—that the new youth work strategy that comes out at the end of this year will have sufficient clout to be heard loudly at that strategic stakeholders group. It's another opportunity for us to say, 'This is what youth work is about and this is how we can play our part in relation to that.' But, certainly, at the moment, it's formal education that dominates that agenda. 

So, the light has been there from the Welsh baccalaureate, which was talking about the external and how you link externally. There is a lost opportunity. And then Donaldson shines another light and so we see the light and we think, 'Great', but we can't see it move to the next level of actually taking on board those recommendations. Because we see the recommendations and the recommendations are great, but how do we move those recommendations? We're struggling.

Can I move on to the Urdd's paper that was submitted to the Welsh Government proposing a national framework for Welsh-medium youth work provision? Have you had a response? 

Mi wnaethom ni gyflwyno'r papur, oherwydd roeddem ni'n teimlo'n eithaf rhwystredig nad oedd yr un cynnig ar gael i bob person ifanc oedd yn siarad Cymraeg ymhob un sir a bod yna anghysondebau. Rydym wedi cyflwyno papur i'r Llywodraeth a, hyd yma, nid ydym wedi derbyn unrhyw ymateb neu drafodaeth bellach heblaw ei bod hi'n dweud ei bod hi am ddarllen y papur, ei bod hi'n hoffi'r cysyniad, ond ei bod hi yn gyfnod o lymder. Ond rydym yn credu bod yna angen am rywbeth o'r math yma, yn enwedig gyda'r cwricwlwm.

We did submit the paper, because we felt quite frustrated that the same offer wasn't available to every young person who spoke Welsh in every county and that there were inconsistencies. We have submitted a paper to the Government and, so far, we haven't received any response or further discussion except for the fact that she tells us she wants to read the paper, that she likes the concept, but that it is a time of austerity. But we think there is a need for something like this, in particular with the curriculum. 

Okay, so there's a need to push for a response a bit and find out. 

Catrin, when exactly did you submit it, because I know you've been working on it a while, haven't you?

Do, mi wnaethom ni grybwyll y papur yn ein tystiolaeth gyntaf. Mi wnaethom ni weithio arno fe am gryn dipyn dros y flwyddyn neu flwyddyn a hanner diwethaf, ac mi gafodd ei gyflwyno gan ein prif weithredwr, Sian Lewis, i un o swyddogion y Llywodraeth ym mis Chwefror, ac fe allwn ni roi'r manylion i chi. Ond mae e yn cyplysu i mewn gyda Chymru 2050, yr 1 miliwn o siaradwyr, gyda'r addysg, ac mae'n rhywbeth roeddwn i'n meddwl y byddem ni wedi cael mwy o drafodaeth arno.

Yes, we mentioned the paper in our initial evidence. We worked on it quite a lot over the last year or year and a half, and it was submitted by our chief executive, Sian Lewis, to one of the Government officials in February, and I could provide you with the details. But it does come into Wales 2050, the 1 million Welsh speakers, with the education, and it is something that I thought we would have had more of a discussion about.

10:20

But you haven't had any indication of when the response will be coming.

Okay. And with regard to the Minister's position on employability, the employability plan, and reducing those not in education or training, are you concerned that the youth services are going to be shaped to deliver that at the exclusion of other things?

If I could just make a comment. It's quite interesting; I picked up that Working Wales now is being tendered out as a wider contract for employability. I read some of the wording in there, and they're using some of the wording that comes from youth work—you know, they're talking about 'engaging young people', et cetera. Going through that, it suddenly hit me that it's the feeling of, 'Well, that's what youth work could really help with in this area', because youth work engages with young people all the time.

Many of our organisations across youth work will develop young people to the point that they can get work, because they've developed themselves. We—all of us—have a history of creating employment, because young people sometimes need the basic emotional skills and all those other things that get them to work that, actually, employers ask for. They ask for those confident young people to be there. Employers can often skill up young people, but they need the confidence there in the first place. So, I think we're really well placed for that.

But when I see something like Working Wales, I see, 'How do we get involved in this?' So, in a sense, it's about youth work informing the other way around, so youth work informing how employability can happen, not employability telling youth work what to do. So, it's gone the wrong way, from my end. It's no good for us to be changing our patterns to create a set of work that we're doing, to try and change what we know works to engage young people, to change the whole methodology of what we do that works. So, a lot of it is how we rethink the methodology we're doing to actually engage and create employment. Does that help at all?

What kind of dialogue have you had with the relatively new Minister?

Personally, I'm not involved. CWVYS would have had. It's just I think that's historical, because that's not seen as youth work. All I'm saying is: I'm seeing an area—

But to change that, you'd need access to Government and—.

Yes, it's just—. You can see it from my end: if we're talking about a difficulty of developing and delivering a youth service, and then I see a tender that's £600 million, I'm looking at it and thinking, 'Well, we—'. And then I read it, and I read, 'Engaging young people', and I think, 'Well, that's what we do.' 

Yes. To answer your question directly, we're meeting with the Minister, as CWVYS, next week. So, that's one of the things we'll be picking up on anyway. And our evidence says quite clearly, and it's something that we've always believed, that open-access provision is the gateway to those kinds of services, because targeted services can exist within that open-access framework. And I do make mention in the evidence that the organisations that we represent don't have separate doors for different categories of young people. A good youth worker will work off their feet, really, and deal with any issue that comes through the door, or no issue particularly, at that particular time, but will develop that voluntary relationship over time. And those targeted services can happen, and they are a beneficial result as part of youth work intervention, but it's not the whole thing. I think there's a danger of boxing ourselves into a corner if we're just working with a particular category, if you want to call it that, of young people.

Yes, there is, definitely. So, for us, it's about the investments and the respect and the resource for open-access provision, because, as a result of that, all those other things, you can accrue even more benefits. So, it's that added-value issue that we mentioned earlier, I think. You have to have that basis in order to provide more services.

I think because of where, historically, our clubs are situated, areas of high unemployment and socioeconomic problems, we've always addressed that not in education, employment or training agenda as part of our strategy. As I've said, we're now looking at an active inclusion programme, and in the past we've done well with the future jobs fund and Jobs Growth Wales schemes, leading young people on a pathway to further education and employment, and we'll continue to do that and build. We're still trying to build more positive and better relationships with the private sector as an outlet for these opportunities.

10:25

I think the other thing to say is that youth work encompasses a wide age range of 11 to 25-year-olds, and so, for some, one aspect will be more relevant than others at any given time, but it's about having those resources and things in place in order for young people to progress through those and to be able to take advantage of whatever service is available. But the fundamental essence of it all is youth work and that practice and that voluntary engagement principle.

Yes. We've touched on your views of—. Mark, you've mentioned, very clearly, Erasmus+ and you—.

It was ERYICA.

Well, ERYICA in the context of Erasmus+. In your evidence, you said that—and I suspect this is latterly:

'The limited response from the WG is indicative of an approach that has not maximised the opportunities afforded by Erasmus+'.

Can you just expand a little bit on that and why that might be the case?

Yes. There's been a slight shift in that since the conference, for example, the British Council and Ecorys UK were there, delivering a workshop on the benefits of European programmes and Erasmus+. So, that's a good thing. ERYICA were also there, so that's positive. I'm meeting with Welsh Government officials after this session to talk about Erasmus+. So, in terms of—

So, why do you feel that there's the limited response? 

The response up to that point had been limited. I guess it's timing, really, in many ways. Limited response in terms of taking advantage of the opportunities that exist. As CWVYS, we are partners with Eurodesk UK, and that's really important for us. We work very closely with the British Council and Ecorys UK. Subsequent to the issues I've just mentioned, Welsh Government officials now have a role on the national evaluation panel for Erasmus+. So, things seem to be heading in the right direction in that regard. Some of it's an educative process, I would suggest, and it's also about pursuing the benefits that are involved. It's not just about money: it's about training opportunities; it's about young people being able to engage in exchange visits as well, across Europe. We also now know, of course, that the European Commission has signalled a doubling of the amount from 2021 to 2027. That's going up to €30 billion, potentially. So, it's about the opportunities that exist currently and potentially in the future too, and how we take advantage of them. We're very passionate at CWVYS about giving organisations the information to pursue those opportunities. 

Okay. Thank you very much. Well, we've come to the end of our time, unless anyone's got any final very quick questions. No. Okay. Well, can I thank you on behalf of the committee for attending this morning and answering all our questions? We very much appreciate your time. As usual, you'll be sent a transcript following the meeting to check for accuracy, but thank you again for coming.

Thank you. Thanks for the invitation.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:28 a 10:46.

The meeting adjourned between 10:28 and 10:46.

10:45
3. Gwaith Ieuenctid—Dilyniant: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 2
3. Youth Work—Follow-up: Evidence Session 2

Welcome back, everyone, and we'll move on, then, to our next evidence session with the Wales Principal Youth Officers’ Group. I'd like to welcome Tim Opie, who's the lifelong learning policy officer, youth, at the Welsh Local Government Association; Joanne Sims, who is chair of the Principal Youth Officers’ Group and youth services manager in Blaenau Gwent; and Steve Davis, vice chair of the Principal Youth Officers’ Group and service manager at Pembrokeshire Youth. Thank you all for attending this morning. If you're happy, we'll go straight into questions from Members, and the first questions are from Llyr Gruffydd.

Bore da. Gwnaf ofyn yn Gymraeg.

Good morning. I will be asking my questions in Welsh.

I will be speaking in Welsh, so if you'd like to make use of the translation.

Roeddwn i jest yn meddwl y buaswn i’n cychwyn drwy ofyn ichi am beth yw’ch asesiad chi o sefyllfa bresennol gwasanaethau a darpariaeth ieuenctid gan awdurdodau lleol a sut, efallai, mae’r ddarpariaeth yna erbyn heddiw yn cymharu â beth oedd y sefyllfa ddwy flynedd yn ôl pan ddechreuom ni gymryd tystiolaeth fel pwyllgor.

I just thought I'd begin by asking you about what your assessment is of the current position of local youth services and provision, and how that provision, by today, is compared with what the position was two years ago when we started to take evidence as a committee.

Okay. Hello. In terms of provision, really, it's variable, I would say. Many local authorities, obviously, have had cuts in funding, and how we have all had to deal with that has been approached differently, really, in terms of we are seeing some areas where there is reduction in provision; we're also seeing that there are, in some areas, different approaches being taken in terms of looking at how to source different models. And then you do have examples where more traditional types of youth services remain, but they are maybe lessening in their scope. Other elements of that are around—. Some are focusing more of their work within schools, and then some are then focusing their work outside of school. There is change and there is a reduction, but how that's panning out across Wales is different.

Yes, I think it's fair to say—. We've had, at the Principal Youth Officers' Group meetings over the last few years, a standing item on the agenda where two services will make a presentation on, usually, what their new structure looks like. Having done the round, I think it'd be worth going around again because, unfortunately, the landscape has probably shifted again in a great number of those local authorities. And, as Jo says, authorities have been innovative under very difficult circumstances, and I think services in the sector need to be applauded for that.

There are different ways of approaching it, and that will be driven partly by funding but partly by the subsidiarity principle of the needs of young people. Steve, sitting to my right, can talk more about it, but there are some local authorities—four in Wales—that have merged their youth offending service with the youth service. There are a few considering potential spin-outs and others looking at commissioning models—where there is a market, by the way, which is not always the case. So, just to reiterate what Jo said, really: in those two years, even, the landscape has shifted quite dramatically and is still doing so.

Yes, and I'll just reiterate that, because Tim's kind of put me on the spot, really. My other role—I'm a principal youth officer in Pembrokeshire, I'm also the youth offending and prevention service manager in Pembrokeshire, and we integrated the services; early 2014, we started to do that. As Tim says, there are four local authorities that have done that.

But the other side of my business is the youth offending side. There were originally 18 youth offending teams in Wales. That's been pared down to 15, and, out of the 15, four are integrated youth offending and youth services. So, that's another dimension, I know, but that's a bit of our—. It's not what everyone is doing; some are merging more within youth offending teams, but some are merging with their local youth services and I believe that at least one other authority is thinking about doing that, but I don't want to say whether or not I feel that it's a thing for other people to do. I think that's a matter for them.

10:50

Does that contraction of services, then, and the fact that different areas are adapting and recasting services in different ways, does that run against the grain of the policy narrative coming from Government that they want a consistent offer across Wales? I presume it does. I'm not saying that we have an answer and I'm not saying that we can't avoid it, but that's probably the reality, is it?

Well, it does, to a certain extent, in terms of the amount of resource available to do that, because, even within the context that we discussed around the different approaches, there are certain fundamental things and principles that each local authority is attempting to adhere to in terms of youth work approach. But I think that it isn't easy looking at making sure that, no matter where a young person lives in Wales, they have the same level of opportunities that they would have in another area, by all the changes that are happening.

Because we're miles away from getting to there, if we ever get there, surely—this aspiration of a consistent offer, open-access youth service, through the medium of Welsh or English, equally available to all young people wherever they live in Wales. If we get there, we could all go home, I suppose, couldn't we? But we're moving in the other direction, in reality.

I think the principles and purposes of youth work are there. The national occupational standards—all youth workers follow those regardless of the setting. It's a voluntary engagement with a young person, which is on a non-formal educative basis, developing their personal and social skills. I recall a question asked of me some years ago by an assistant director: what is youth work, where does it take place, does it take place in schools, in hospitals, in communities? Yes, yes, yes. As long as it's good quality youth work, that consistency is there through some of that, as well.

Okay. I was going to probe a bit further about how the sector is adapting, because we quoted figures in our report about the 25 per cent drop, effectively, in funding, if you look at it that way, and the inevitable effect that that's going to have. Clearly, the sector continues to adapt in the face of that trajectory, which I presume hasn't changed and has possibly got even worse—I don't know, maybe you could tell us whether it has. So, could you just expand a little bit about how the sector is adapting? You talk about working together a bit more effectively; I presume that that means working more effectively with the voluntary sector particularly, under the providers. We heard earlier, in an earlier session, about CWVYS trying to bring certain consortia together so that they can operate more effectively.

I think, again, there will be differences across the board. There will be differences of how different people, different authorities, respond to change and flux but, for example, I find that we certainly do more in terms of supporting. Where we've got more back-room function, we're maybe in a position to support third sector colleagues putting in a collective bid for the county and that kind of thing—not always successfully, but we can do that. For me, it's about money for youth work and money for services for young people. It's not about who does it, and we can't be precious about that. We shouldn't be competing with each other; we should be working together. 

But we're also more mindful of how do we continue with things like community youth clubs. So, is there a way—if we can no longer keep the current footprint of village-hall delivery, can we get into conversations with community councils about can they fund? And, in one instance, that's been possible for us. On other occasions, the conversation is around, 'Well, are there volunteers within the community that we can support and train and upskill and offer them professional guidance and oversight?' So, the voluntary sector can be CWVYS and it can be organisations that are aligned or are members of CWVYS, but there are also more grass roots. Anyone, in theory, could set up their own village youth club. So, there are all sorts of different ways this is panning out and this is being explored.  

10:55

So, compared to when we took evidence in 2016 initially as part of this inquiry, how would you characterise the situation now, and I know we shouldn't really generalise, but broadly would you agree or would you say that the youth work offer is more sparse now than it was two years ago, that there are fewer youth workers?

It's difficult to pinpoint that at the moment, the reason being that the evidence base is presented in the Welsh Government's youth work audit. Unfortunately, that is a year out of date as it's presented, so we don't know this current financial year's situation—the one we've just come out of—but we do have figures for 2016-17. 

But it's fair to say that you're managing, or that a key part of your roles is to mitigate that trend, you know, to try and work against that trend as things stand. 

Yes, and I think even the various options that local authorities are exploring, in whatever way they're doing that, are about trying to mitigate that to ensure that there is some form of youth work offer. 

And I presume that work is happening, where there is innovation, to share that more widely across the sector nationally. 

Yes, absolutely. As I say, at Principal Youth Officers' Group meetings we have had that standing item, which has been really useful and well received and, indeed, has caused some principal youth officers or strategic heads of services to visit other areas to learn about how they're doing it by getting into more depth. 

I think it's worth reminding ourselves, as well, of the preventative nature of youth work, and, in the context of the question you posed, about the cost to the public sector of not having an intervention further down the line. I know Steve and Jo gave evidence to the mental health and emotional well-being inquiry as well, and we were really pleased to see youth work's role mentioned in that, and it is crucial. Jo was referring to non-clinical interventions, which are really important to stop young people falling into that stream and going further down it and, as I say, it's not just costing more at that point but, actually, retrieving the issues is far more complex and difficult to do at that point.   

That's a very important point. Can I just finish with this for now? A lot of sharing of good practice et cetera, that's great. Is there any joint working across local authorities? We look at education and we see the consortia have emerged, haven't they, in recent years. I'm just wondering whether there are similar models that could be looked at in terms of youth services.  

There are informal arrangements across some of the regions. So, in the region that I sit within, we meet as five local authorities regularly. We jointly plan our training. We pool our resources in certain elements; an example of that is where we look to share elements around the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. So, there are informal arrangements. They're not as formalised as the education consortia set-up. We've had discussions at various points in different local authorities around that, in terms of whether that would be something to be explored. The concern around it is that how youth work is delivered and the needs at a local level are very different. The services look very different. Even within the region that I'm in, all five of our local authorities are very different in terms of how we deliver the services. So, it's about looking at how that would pan out, really. 

Yes, that's a fair comment. Is that fairly typical of the picture across Wales? 

If I can say, the Principal Youth Officers' Group is a sub-group of the Association of Directors of Education in Wales, and models itself on the same geographic context. So, they do meet, and have traditionally met, as regions. That waxes and wanes depending on the needs, the availability of people and the issues, but there is, as Jo says, that structure there. 

Okay, thank you. Julie, then John wanted to pick up on points you've made. Julie. 

Yes, it was the collaboration issue I wanted to ask in a bit more detail about, and in particular the one team for youth service and the youth offending teams. And I just wondered if you could tell us how that actually works out, whether it's like putting people administratively together—or is the work shared? And are there any issues about a voluntary engagement and maybe some young people you have to work with?  

I don't want to be parochial, but it's probably best to reflect on my own experience, without getting into too much detail, because where it's happened, in the other authorities where it's happened, the experience will be slightly different, and the model or the organisational structure will be slightly different. So, there is no kind of off-the-shelf, 'This is what it looks like'. There will be some similarities. 

In terms of how it exists, you have a single manager, you have a small business support team who will do your data management, your HR processes—all of that can be rationalised, if you like, in one place. And also with training as well, although there are different training needs, fundamentally, your youth justice staff are engaging with young people, trying to keep them engaged, and many of those staff are, and always have been, youth workers. So, there are some synergies with training and training budgets and things like that.

So, in terms of how the workforce operates, then, what I've found is you've still got different operational teams, which is also quite common in other youth services these days. So, most people tend to have something that looks like a school-based team and/or married with a post-16 team working on the youth engagement progression framework sort of NEET agenda. For us, we have that. That's one team, focused on targeted NEET prevention or engagement. We have a youth justice team alongside that. What we did was there were some more specialist roles within that, substance misuse being one, and we felt that, 'Well, actually, we've got young people engaged across the service who may have presenting issues. Why wait until they come to the notice of the police or get referred via the crime prevention route? Why not be part of the school delivery or the targeted work that happens there, or part of the personal and social education?' So, we recognised there were some opportunities to work differently with some of the in-house resources we had. 

In terms of the actual voluntary engagement, we spent a bit of time on this talking about the culture at the time of the merger. But one of the things that got reflected back to me was, 'Well, when we work with children and young people in a very targeted way in school, we still have to tell the form tutor or whoever's responsible for attendance if the young person hasn't turned up for their lesson'—for the youth worker's timetabled slot. So, is that, in itself, voluntary engagement? The thing that has always existed within youth justice anyway, when we have youth workers working with young people—and what we would say would be, 'Well, okay, so there's a compulsion because the child might be on a court order and they have to engage with you, but what they're required to do is turn up and attend. They don't actually have to talk to you.' Yes, you can take them back to court if they refuse to engage persistently or whatever, but engagement comes with the kinds of skills that the practitioners have. So, there has to be some level—even within youth justice, there has to be a voluntary aspect to that relationship. The young person has to want to engage to get somewhere with that process as well. So, I see it more as a spectrum, and, yes, I accept that it's not totally voluntary engagement. But you would want to have dedicated, committed staff who are able, and have the skills, to engage with young people in that situation anyway. So, I see it more as a kind of continuum through open access, through more targeted school work, to youth justice work. But I believe the skills, fundamentally, are the same and have to be the same to keep the young people engaged. 

11:00

They're all young people. A young person, you know, different labels can be applied at different times, but they're still a young person, and they'll still be a young person when they finish work on the youth justice team. And another thing we hope is that when they come out the other side of that then they might be open to referral to our outreach team or our school-based youth worker, so that there's someone else there within the service to help them along when they need that additional help and support. So, we have seen it as a positive move, but I'm very conscious that it's not everyone's direction, and it won't work for everyone. So, I'm very careful not to sell it as a kind of possible model that everyone can do. It's worked for us, but it won't work for everyone. 

11:05

Yes. I was going to ask really in terms of strategy, your role, and local authorities' role, to take a strategic view locally, and the various players providing youth services—you know, the voluntary sector, local authorities themselves, very often police and crime commissioners, through their work, leisure trusts, and so on. I mean, there's quite a lot of different organisations involved. So, given that resources are scarce, I just wonder to what extent there's an overview, there's a mapping exercise, there's some bringing together of the various organisations to fill any gaps, or to avoid duplication, and whether the well-being assessments and strategies and public services boards are being used to make sure that youth work and youth services are going forward effectively in Wales.

That's a very good question. It's one of the things that we've flagged up a number of times really, in terms of—since the days of the children and young people's partnership's demise, really, where, within that set-up, there was the opportunity then to map, the requirement to map, all provision—

And resource. But not just youth work—obviously, it was wider than that—youth support services. So, again, it's variable how that happens now, at a local authority level, across Wales. There is not a legal requirement, but an expectation with the youth engagement progression framework that provision for young people, and preventing them from becoming NEET in the future, is mapped annually, but obviously that only takes into account then—. Well, really, I should say how that is done at a local level, again, is variable. So, in some local authorities, that might encompass a very broad element of youth provision, and in other areas it might be very focused in terms of just looking at very targeted work for young people, at a particular age group as well. So, in terms of there being a consistent level of mapping across local authorities, I think that would probably—it's fair to say that we wouldn't be confident that's the case. There is an opportunity, I think, through the well-being plans, and the partnership structures that will be established as a result of those. But obviously the focus on youth work is not necessarily the purpose of those partnerships, and it's whatever comes out of those emerging local needs that will dictate elements of that mapping as well. But there is an opportunity; it's an opportunity for us, as youth services managers, to lobby that process, in terms of considering how young people are involved in that process, but also then how it focuses on—and mapping of youth services can be built into that process as well, as well as then monitoring it through the partnership structure that's established. So, from my perspective, it's an opportunity to look at how we can use those emerging plans and partnership structures to make sure that they are meeting the needs of youth work as well, and young people.

Colleagues in local authorities have been relaying to me as well that at local authority inspections Estyn have been firing lines of questioning around some of that, and the perceived gap. The go-to person is the principal youth officer, or the strategic lead for the youth service in a local area, for youth support services. The group wrote a paper some years ago about opening a dialogue around that, because they neither have the remit nor the resource to do that at the moment on a wider scale. So, it might be something to revisit.

Yes. Thank you. When we were doing the report—the committee report—in 2016, there was a lot of concern expressed to us about the lack of leadership from the Welsh Government and the lack of a strategic force, and we did ask for there to be a radical change of direction. So, I wondered if you had seen any change from the Welsh Government since that time.

Yes. I would say 'yes'. Very quickly after that report, and even during the period of the inquiry as well, the concerns that we had in terms of lack of regular communication and clear influence into and out of Welsh Government—there are a number of areas where that was being addressed and has been addressed. We've had discussion about this recently, but on a number of levels that's improved really: in terms of the engagement with the PYO group, in terms of the clarity and the purpose of the youth work reference group, and also in terms of producing clear timelines—I can't think of the word now, but where all the various plans and pieces of work—

11:10

Rationalising all of that work, so making it clearer so that we all understand where it fits and what it's leading towards. All of that seems a lot clearer. Our hope would be that that will continue. So, we've seen quite a clear period of work and improved communication up until the recent youth work conference as well. So, we just want to see that sustained beyond—particularly now where, obviously, there's been a change of Minister, because that was with the prior Minister and now, obviously, we have a new Minister, so we just hope to see that continue, really.

Thinking back some years, perhaps to the Wales Youth Agency and not long after that, there was probably a better connection between the sector and those who were driving strategy, to the point that there were formal arrangments—formal meetings—but it's that less formal conversation in between that has perhaps not been there. I think that's improving, but that's a two-way process as well—it's not just Welsh Government's responsibility; it's the sector's responsibility as well to have that dialogue in between meetings as well.

Right. So, basically, when we did the report, there did seem to be quite a lot of demoralisation, but would you say now that things were more on track now?

I think, as Jo said, the strategic focus is sharper than it was. We were presented, as a sector, with a plethora of work streams, which caused a bit of confusion, and I think that has been looked at as a priority. I certainly think, from my perspective—I can see Jo nodding her head—that we are working our way through that together.

Right. So, the Welsh Government's review of the national youth work strategy for Wales 2014-2018—what are your views on that and what do you think the next step should be?

I don't think there are any surprises. I think it's a pretty honest reflection on where services are and the different patchwork, I suppose, that's emerging and the move towards more targeted types of provision, and less focus on the open-access provision, which, obviously, it mentions as well. So, it doesn't tell us anything, I think, in the sector, that we don't know. I think the next bit of the question probably leads into some of the other questions and that's not for me to get ahead of myself, but, in terms of next steps, there's a lot that's been talked about, but it's about seeing what that looks like when it rolls into practice. I don't know if anyone else wants to add anything.

I think the status of the current strategy reflects the status of youth work now compared to what it might have been 20 years ago. Unfortunately, it was—as you might have seen in the evidence response, it was launched rather underwhelmingly. There was very little opportunity to contribute to it before it was finalised and then, at the conference it was launched at, there weren't hard copies available. We were asked to workshop it. But the profile of it as well suffered, partly as a result of that. Also the previous strategy had very defined areas of accountability—different parts of the sector were responsible for delivering and there are accountability elements to that, which, perhaps, were absent in the current one, so I think—. Hooks to hang your hat on, to give an example.

Yes, and I think, ultimately, it's really positive that there's been a review undertaken. So, it means that there's an opportunity not to do just more of the same, which maybe we weren't happy with as a sector. In terms of next steps, it's about taking on board the recommendations within the report, but also using that information alongside all the other pieces of work that have been undertaken as well—so, the review of extending entitlement. There are a number of areas in terms of pieces of work that need to influence the next stages of the development of the youth work strategy. But, again, linking that back to how things have improved in terms of the two-way discussions with Welsh Government, there seems to be much more of an approach on looking at how we, collectively with young people, can look at writing the next strategy in terms of identifying what the key priorities are, and we would welcome that. That's how we wanted to see it work the last time as well.

11:15

And what about consultation with young people? Do you feel that enough consultation has taken place, and is taking place, with young people in terms of getting this strategy right?

I think we are only entering that phase now. I mean, ultimately, it's crucial to make sure that young people are meaningfully and well informed and involved in the process. We are only just now seeing that process starting to happen. And in terms of being confident about how that's working at the moment, we need to be part of helping to plan for that as well. It hasn't really started in that sense, has it? In terms of the formal discussions with young people about the strategy. They were involved in the review of the past strategy, but at the next stage now, there needs to be a clear plan put in place for that. 

Could I ask you what your take is on the recently established interim youth work board that Welsh Government has set up and how that's working?

It hasn't yet been established, has it? They're going through the process of establishing the chair at the moment, I think. The post is being—

The deadline was 2 May for advert of the chair, or for applying for that position.

Yes, so, you know, there is further clarity, probably, we would like to have and be involved in in terms of that whole process—not so much the appointment of the chair, because the youth work reference group have been involved in discussions—limited, but discussions—around the role of the chair, but there's still further understanding needed in terms of what the scope will be, and the accountability and remit of that board. Is there still a need there for the youth work reference group within that? What are the roles and functions of those two groups, then, if they continue? There are a lot of questions that are not answered yet around that, although, in principle, we welcome the focus on youth work, and we obviously welcome the focus on there being a board that is looking at that. But it's not in place yet, even in terms of—we are unclear about how many members will be on that board, and what their roles and responsibilities will be. So, there are a lot of things that are left to be determined, I think.

I think the other question to pose is about what the reach of that will be. We know it's going to be responsible for youth work, but how will it interrelate with other relevant—? You know, we've been talking about the contribution that youth work makes to health, to criminal justice, to education. Will that board, for example, have any influence in relation to the developing curriculum and those sorts of questions?

Logically, does it seem to you that this board would be better as a supplement to the reference group, or do you perceive it as something that's likely to take over from the reference group?

I see it as being at a higher, more strategic level than the youth work reference group, and that if the youth work reference group was needed, it would be sitting underneath that, or a task and finish group connected to that, rather than the other way around.

I think that links to the point I made previously: that would be the hope—that it would be a higher strategic influencing platform.

And speaking from the perspective of your councils, or Tim with the representative organisation, what would you say about the level of engagement and liaison between you and your expertise and background and what Welsh Government is in the process of deciding to do in this area? How open is that dialogue?

The main platform for doing that is the youth work reference group and that's been pretty inclusive. Obviously, it's gone a bit quiet whilst the appointment of the chair is made, so I don't expect to hear much until that announcement is made. But I think that, certainly in the run-up, via that platform, those conversations and that dialogue has been there.

11:20

And it is our—as the chair of the PYO group, I sit on the youth work reference group, Tim sits there as the representative from the WLGA youth—it's our responsibility, then, from that forum, to make sure we're feeding back to our retrospective groups, to make sure we're keeping them informed and gaining any views that we need to feed into that process. So, information will be sent out by Welsh Government and even in terms of how messages are communicated from the youth work reference group have improved, in terms of there being clear messages that are then sent out to the wider sector, which weren't in place prior to 2016, when we were looking at it—. So, the platform is there, isn't it?

Yes, I think it is fair to say, though, as has already been mentioned, that we don't know a great deal about what it's going to do yet, but discussions around the potential remit and its potential relationship with the current reference group—we have tossed some of those ideas around.

The idea of a national model for youth work, encompassing the voluntary and the statutory provision—our predecessor committee recommended that in 2016, and we understand from the new Minister that she's considering what the structure should be. Is that the way to go—the integration of those two subsectors through a national plan?

It depends what that means, really. I think, in principle—. Sorry, Jo, I was saying to Jo and Steve beforehand—a few years ago, I was given a kind of mandate by CWVYS and the Wales Principal Youth Officers' Group to sit on the steering group that led to the Education Workforce Council, but I didn't have the mandate or the remit, generally, to speak on behalf of both parts of the sector. I was sat around the table with representatives from unions, from schools, from colleges, who had that, and there's nobody in the sector at the moment, or a platform in the sector, that can do that, so I think that would be useful.

I think our discussions have been: is that what we're talking about when we're talking about a national youth work model? If we're talking about that model in terms of a potential independent body or something that can represent the whole sector, then whilst we couldn't categorically say all of the PYO group would support that, that is an area that's been discussed and highlighted as a gap, but then there are other understandings about what a national youth service model could be. So, I think there's further work to be done to be clear about what we mean by that, to be able to look at what we support, I suppose, really.

So, the Education Workforce Council has said it would like to see a clear commitment to workforce development, and I suppose that's what I would expect to hear from that body. But in the context of a national plan for the voluntary and the statutory organisations to be looking at where you and others in the sector recruit from and the degree of movement between the sectors, is that the way to go? And more broadly, when you're recruiting and bringing people in to your youth service, are those people largely coming from elsewhere in your council? Are they coming in new and being trained up into the sector, or are you recruiting from the voluntary organisations? What's that mix for you?

Again, it's probably a parochial answer, but my experience would be that it's a mix. We have people who work for both ourselves and the third sector, or people who have changed from employer back and forth, depending on what the opportunities are locally. But, by and large, it's the same workforce—it's the youth workforce that we all recruit from, the same group of people. Sometimes, there are multiple employers, and sometimes within organisations there are multiple jobs, so someone may be a school-based youth worker during the day for us, but may work for one of our youth clubs on a separate pay roll that evening, running a youth club, or may work for a sector provider at another youth club. These are all things that are constantly in change, but it is, by and large, the same workforce, from my own experience.

And that's all part of—there is a coherent route in terms of a professional qualification route for the youth work role. The discussion we have had is that, as the sector and the opportunities potentially reduce, what's the knock-on effect in terms of maintaining that coherent route within higher education institutions, if there are not the places for students to have their placements, for example? It's those types of discussions. But the coherent route does exist from level 2 up to qualified degree, MA level. Where there is concern is that there's not the resource and clear route for CPD—continuous professional development—opportunities. We've talked about the fact that we've felt that there have been opportunities in terms of the academy leadership, developments linked to education reform. And although we've had—the PYO group have had—one presentation around that, and they have had an opportunity to feed in quite some time ago, probably about a year ago now, there's not been anything further since that. So, whilst there is funding and resource being put into education academic leadership, youth work, as part of that, is not being built in clearly, in terms of what we can see, anyway.   

11:25

I think there are concerns from the sector in regard to that. Youth work is an education provision that has a great deal to offer and complement. But in regard to the development of the curriculum and the National Academy for Educational Leadership, we are told consistently that we are in scope. But, at the moment, it's hard to see how and where. We keep making noises around that. For example, the Wales Principal Youth Officers' Group, a couple of years ago, ran a seminar on the contribution of youth work to the new curriculum, which Steve Davies, the director of education in the Welsh Government, attended, and it was well received. But, again, those opportunities are few and far between. Jo and I sit on the strategic stakeholders' group, but, again, the linkages between that group and how and where decisions are being taken on the new curriculum aren't clear.

Okay, thank you. Hefin, I feel that curriculum question has been asked, so you'll have to brief, with brief answers, please.

You said, 'how and where' the decisions are being taken. Where are those decisions being taken? Pioneer schools? 

I mean, I think that's the concern. We sit at the strategic stakeholders' group and there are myriad partners on that partnership. To be fair, a number of those partners probably have the same view that we have in terms of their involvement. There are then the four workstreams that have been developed in the pioneer schools that sit within that. We are not engaged with that process.  

What I don't understand with that—and I'm going to have to cut in because of time—what I don't understand about that is that your offices sit within the local authority that is responsible for the schools. Why isn't there a local authority enforcing that to happen? Surely it's not for the Government to make that happen; it's up to the local authority to do that. Why doesn't it do it?

Because it's a Welsh Government-driven process. So, all of those partnerships, including the schools, are—. You know, they are self-selecting schools that are feeding into a Welsh Government process where they are pulled together. So, it's not just the school, it's also the other partners that are linked into that process that meet together. We've had discussions in terms of how to link, so, at a local level, I've found out that one of our few secondary schools was part of a pioneer process, and so we've offered to help in terms of looking at some of the curriculum. But that's—

But your directors of education would know which schools are part of the pioneer process. So, wouldn't they just be able to write to them and say, 'Please can you meet with our youth service and make sure that they have an input into this process'?

Yes, but the reality of that, then, is that it is very much a Welsh Government strategy and approach, in terms of looking at the development of curriculum across Wales. Doing it that way, again, when you think about the different youth services and the way that they are very different in their whole way across Wales, for one service in one school area to plan for it together would look very different to another, so—

But the Welsh Government can't force a local education authority to push the youth service into schools. It's up to the local education authority to do that, and it seems that they're not doing that, and yet they sit in the same authority.

No, they can dictate who sits on the partnerships. 

I think it's for schools to invite people into that process.

Why? The director of education can have the power to push it, surely. I don't understand why not. I think there's a real opportunity within local authorities to do that.

Well, we agree. 

Okay, thank you. Well, we've come to the end of our time. Can I thank you for attending and for answering all the questions? You will be sent a transcript to check for accuracy following the meeting. Thank you again for your attendance. 

11:30
4. Gwaith Ieuenctid—Dilyniant: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 3
4. Youth Work—Follow-up: Evidence Session 3

Item 4 then is our third evidence session this morning from Children in Wales and Youth Cymru. I'm very pleased to welcome Catriona Williams, chief executive of Children in Wales; Chris Richards, development officer, Young Wales, at Children in Wales; Emma Chivers, chair of the board of trustees at Youth Cymru; and Julia Griffiths, joint acting chief executive officer at Youth Cymru. Thank you very much for your attendance. We'll go straight to questions, if that's okay, because we haven't got a huge amount of time. Llyr is first.  

Bore da. Rydw i'n mynd i ofyn fy nghwestiwn yn Gymraeg os oes angen defnyddio offer cyfieithu arnoch chi. Roeddwn jest eisiau gofyn i chi beth yw eich asesiad chi o sefyllfa'r gwasanaeth ieuenctid ar hyn o bryd, yn y sector statudol a'r sector gwirfoddol. A sut, efallai, ydych chi'n meddwl y mae hynny wedi newid o'r amser pan gymerom ni dystiolaeth i'r ymchwiliad yma gyntaf, bron i ddwy flynedd yn ôl? 

Good morning. I am going to ask my question in Welsh if you need to use the translation equipment. I just wanted to ask you what your assessment is of the current position of youth services, in the voluntary and statutory sectors. And how, perhaps, do you think that has changed from the time when we took evidence in this inquiry initially, nearly two years ago? 

Diolch. I can't remember a time when it's been so bad, to be honest—just looking at the way in which we're dependent on local authorities distributing funds in these times of austerity and difficult financial circumstances. I know from Children in Wales, the number of applicants we have for jobs in the Young Wales programme is—. There are people with a huge amount of skills that are applying, because they've been made redundant, and I have to say that.

I think really that at a high level beyond the youth work enquiry, the fact that local authorities have the decision-making powers on where they spend their money, where youth forums, in particular, are going down in terms of numbers—Gwynedd doesn't have one. We've heard of cuts in a lot of other authorities. Chris can tell you more. He was previously working in Merthyr. The number of staff out there delivering services has been affected badly. I think the fact that funding for young people and youth work is not hypothecated is a problem, but then we keep visiting that topic again and again. It is how we in Wales look after our young. And I think the issue of investing in children and young people is talked about a lot, but the reality out there with youth work is not there, and we actually have to look very seriously at how that's addressed. 

I'm sure—looking at the committee—some of the committee members will know about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and general comment number 19, which is saying public services need to look at public budgeting in a transparent way and how it affects children and young people. I won't go on too long about that as there is further information I could send you, but, really and truly, as a nation, in terms of youth work, which we're very—. The reason our written evidence was very supportive of CWVYS's evidence was that we recognise that the whole sector needs a lot of support and leadership behind it to redress what we've lost, not necessarily to go forward.

The fact is that investing in children and young people—actually, in every country that has been researched—increases the GDP of the whole country, and those young people will be less costly in terms of when they're employed. They're able to be employed to look after some of us who are not young any more. In terms of demography, we've really got to grasp that nettle. That is not a popular set of comments at times, when we do know that local authorities are struggling very, very much in terms of their budgeting. But it's actually youth work—. And I think the local need is really important. I'm going to hand over to Chris.

11:35

I think austerity cannot be an excuse any longer, because it needs a different mindset, and the last two years have diluted the agenda. The principles of youth work are based on voluntary principles—it's educative, expressive, inclusive, participative and empowering. We need to ensure that we capture those elements as well. We produced a response back in 2016 to the inquiry, where we reinforced our thoughts around the area at that time and which really accords very much with Margaret Jervis's 'Extending Entitlement' review. However, there is still a lack of awareness among young people about youth work—youth work per se and the open-access element, which is now in danger of becoming lost. And that's a gateway to targeted work, anyway. We can't lose that school of thought. It's our workforce development ethics. Because, at the moment, we've a new cohort, there's a huge appetite for students to train in youth work, but they've been trained under a universal plan, a universal model. If you look at what's happening on the ground, that doesn't exist any longer—it's all about targeted. What young people are telling us, because we're fortunate that we've got the reach to young people across Wales, both accessing targeted and open-access provision—what they say to us quite clearly and quite categorically is that, at the moment, they go into a school, for example, with a youth worker for a session and they deem that youth worker as a key worker, not a youth worker, so it loses that youth work essence really.

Before you ask, just to say, don't feel that you need to come in on every question, all of you, because we've got a lot of questions. So, maybe if you could just add something if you've got something you want to say.

I want to pick up on one or two things, but just in terms of whether the situation is worse now than it was two years ago or not, because, clearly, we're revisiting our inquiry and we need to understand whether anything's changed.

There's definitely a significant reduction in the number of staff across the sector. There's some data within the statistical evidence by the Welsh Government and you can see that. What's important that you understand is that it seems to be that youth workers are dealing with much more complex issues than what they were previously, which goes on to look then at some of the smaller voluntary sector providers that are not expecting to remain in the next few years, just because of the struggles with funding and cuts to local authority youth services.

Within the sector, there's a lack of evidence-informed practice. We've got a quality mark, which is a good resource in increasing the quality of provision, raising standards, sharing information and identifying some concerns, but there's a significant lack of universal provision. There's a lot more targeted provision out there. Professionally qualified youth workers, they've left the sector. A lot of them are leaving because of the cuts to public services, but they are working within a range of support services. So, what seems to be happening is that you've got a lot of professionally qualified youth workers working within youth support settings, more within, sort of, housing. But the key thing there, when youth workers are working within these settings, what's holding them rigid is their commitment to the values and principles of youth work. And that's one of the key things that youth workers have told us. 

We're going to pick up on open-access youth work and on the workforce and stuff later on. So, just to come back to resources, Chris mentioned that austerity can't be an excuse any more. I agree, but it is a reality, isn't it?

It is a reality—

We've seen a 25 per cent drop in the funding that's available through local authorities, for example. So, are we saying, from where we were two years ago, that we've actually gone back in terms of where we'd like to go, because there are fewer youth workers, provision is more sparse, for example, and the Government's ambition, stated by the previous Minister—at least I presume that's continued through until now—to have parity of access—you know, equal access to open-access youth work through the medium of Welsh or English for all young people in Wales, wherever they live—just isn't realistic?

11:40

No, it's not. 

That's a shame. That's heartbreaking. That's heartbreaking. 

I would just like to say, it's not realistic under the current way priorities are being established. I think what I was trying to say, really and truly, is that somehow the message of the importance of local authorities investing in the young people as an economic benefit, as well as what's good for young people, that argument could be made more strongly and it's also—we'll come on to it later—that young people aren't siloed. They don't think, 'I'm a youth work participant' or 'I'm a social care participant' or an education participant. It's a young person, so it's something about the shape of how we develop going forward to be sustainable. We would actually have had a young person with us today from the Young Wales project board, but it is revision and exam time at the moment. But they're very practical: if they see a whole youth service disintegrating, they think, 'Well, is it worth me going there for a two-hour session, whereas before I would have been able to dip in and out more?' And, you know, the universal offer is really important. It's really important.

The universal offer: I think we underestimate the value of a universal offer in terms of preventative work. So, we've got these targeted youth support services that are working with hard-to-reach young people; young people who are disengaged; young people who have got problems. If we were doing more at a universal level, then we'd prevent that escalation. There's lots of research out there to say that youth work can be preventative and supportive in the same way as in youth justice, where we've developed triage systems where we divert young people out of the criminal justice system. Youth work can play that role. So, universal services aren't just about young people dropping down to their local youth club to play a game of pool: they're preventative and, as you say, they increase the GDP. So, there's reams of evidence to suggest that we should be focusing our interventions and our resources into universal provision.

And that was a point that was made previously by another panel as well.

And this is a real opportunity now, with a new strategy, to think about how we can bring the statutory and the voluntary sector together to work more collaboratively, to find external resources that can perhaps fill some of the gaps in terms of funding. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 said that we needed to work together—the voluntary and the statutory sector. From our perspective, as a voluntary organisation, there hasn't been a great deal of working with the statutory sector. I'm beginning, or we're beginning to see that kind of recognition of the part that we could play in filling some of the gaps as a voluntary organisation, and other voluntary organisations might say the same, but I would say that funders who fund voluntary organisations, that is short term, and we are living hand-to-mouth, if you like, as an organisation, as the voluntary sector. We live from year to year. So, in this year, we're thinking about where we're going to find funding for next year. So, for us, in the voluntary sector, it remains problematic as well.

John on this. Sorry. We're going to have move on, if that's okay. We can pick it up later.

Thank you, Chair. In terms of what you were just saying then, Julia, and that join-up and coming together: how is that being driven at the moment, then? Who, if anyone, is doing the mapping, looking at who's providing what, because there's quite a number of organisations involved—you know, where duplication might exist, where gaps are and how they might be filled? Is that work taking place across Wales, would you say?

I would say it's beginning to, and you need to ask who is doing it. I know it was raised in the review of youth work strategy that there were poor relationships. I wouldn't say there are poor relationships; I would say there were very good working relationships between the voluntary and statutory sector, and we recognise each others' strengths and expertise. I think it's driven by individuals and by people who have good will and want to see things happen and want to meet the needs of young people. So, from my perspective, as a CEO of a voluntary national youth organisation, it's down to individuals and personalities and capacity—their capacity within the statutory sector and our capacity within the voluntary sector—to do the work that's necessary to identify external funds, to draw them into the sector. Again, those individuals have to have the expertise to do that, so that's quite a skilled thing to—

And that would be quite patchy across Wales, then, would it?

I would say so, yes. 

There is a need for mapping across Wales in every local authority, which is not sufficient, and this needs to align with the guidance of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 section 123 element as well. That needs to be brought back and strengthened, because to me, that's underpinning it as well. And the regulators as well. Estyn, fundamentally, previously, always picked up this lack of knowledge of provision as a key concern.

11:45

I think, for me, one of the changes, especially with the future generations Act—you know, collaboration and so forth—is that in Children in Wales we are able to be seeing the picture across the whole of Government. So, if you take an issue like the emotional well-being of children and young people, and early intervention and prevention, there's a whole range of different types of organisations that contribute to helping children and young people. So, I think the mapping needs to almost come at it from the point of view of where young people are at, from the citizen-centred perspective of what's needed. Now, that's a big ask. Finding out exactly what little community groups are doing for BAME communities, what's supporting those young people—is it a youth worker, a youth club in the traditional sense? Or is there a range of—? I think I would really like to see a more joined-up cross-Government look at the early intervention and prevention services—well not services; activities—that communities are contributing to, young people themselves are contributing to, and services are contributing to. So, whilst we're here today to talk about the youth work strategy, that is a service model as opposed to a citizen-centred model.

Are the well-being assessment strategies and the public services boards playing a role at the moment, and if not, should they be?

They should be, and if you look at the 19 well-being assessments, there is little reference to youth work, or indeed children's rights or young people, and there lies a tangible example. That is a strategic planning network, a framework, that can change things.

But previously, a lot of this mapping had been done originally during 'Extending Entitlement', when that all came out. But there's been mapping, as well, as a result of the single integrated plans. So, there are going to be maps and networks of resources and that out there. The challenge is keeping them up to date now, because I know service provision has changed. But when you look at some of the well-being plans, the youth service has got a key part to play in those. If you look at the data now on teenage pregnancy, and how much that has gone down since 2012, a lot of youth workers were involved in delivering the C-card and the condom scheme as part of that. We're not mentioned in any of those data, but if you talk to the staff within the NHS, they'll say that, around young people's well-being, around pregnancy and outcomes for the mums and the children, we aren't anywhere to be seen but we've done a lot of the work. And also, if you look at the well-being stuff around the CAMHS agenda now, youth work has got a key role to play in that as well.

Thank you. I wanted to ask about young people's involvement. In particular, has the Young Wales programme been able to influence the direction of the Government's strategy on youth work, by young people being involved in influencing it?

Just for those in the committee who don't know, the Young Wales programme was funded as a project, but we're hoping that it will continue. It connects with the youth forums, with organisations that are targeted services, all sorts of different organisations, so across the piece. We have brought, actually, our participation standards, which are the principles upon which children and young people should be involved—I've got some copies that I'll leave—which are Welsh Government's own children and young people's participation standards that were refreshed by young people and by youth workers. And so, those principles, I think—. What we've found within influencing the youth work strategy is that there has been, let's say, some robust discussion about methodologies of how the young people are giving their views. I'll hand over to Chris.

We did some early focus groups back in early 2017, where we looked at youth work under our 'Extending Entitlement' remit. However, when we then were asking the young people about the charter—the national charter—nobody had ever heard of that. You could not even actually access a guide off the Welsh Government website at the time. I'm not sure if it's been rectified now. That was being sold as the national offer, and young people were really confused and concerned, saying, 'Well, if this is our national offer, we need to be involved not now, but also in the planning of the dialogue and the rhetoric.' 

So, young people have been involved, but they've been involved—it's after the event, actually, because we've just took the current climate to them and asked them some questions, and they were just really concerned that, actually, they weren't aware of all these strategies that were going forward.

11:50

We developed some child-friendly materials and those sorts of methods of engaging. I think it's the difference between participation of children and young people in the process. We were trying—. Chris has had meetings with officials and so forth. But I think there's a big culture change in how we meaningfully involve children and young people. We were disappointed, I have to say, that Young Wales, because it's not from the youth work part of Welsh Government, the funding—that we weren't invited to be on the reference group, which is, really quite interesting. That's why, I think, for me, the joined-up-ness across Welsh Government could be strengthened.

If I could just say something about young people's participation. When you look at the work that the Government and the youth services, voluntary and statutory, did in 2007 around the participation standards, everybody was involved—all workers at all levels. So, it wasn't tokenistic. There seems to be, because of resources, quite a lot of reduction around that now. When you talk to some of the youth workers in there—and I actually work for a university that trains youth workers—not many of them have heard of the participation standards, so it seems to have gone backwards with regard to it being part of everybody's practice, whereas now it seems to be some of the chosen few.

So, would you say then, really, that the strategy that the Welsh Government has come up with hasn't had meaningful involvement of young people?

To be honest, there hasn't been a great deal of meaningful involvement, otherwise you would be able to glean off the website a young person's charter, youth work charter, some information on 'Extending Entitlement', on the strategy itself. So, I'd say it's been limited.

And we've gone backwards since earlier participation. 

What we have done is given information to the officials of what young people are saying from their perspective from other parts of our work, but not specifically on this. But it can go forward strongly, hopefully.

I wanted to go on to the review of the national youth work strategy for Wales 2014-18. I know Youth Cymru—you say in your evidence that

'historical and ongoing confusions regarding the practice of youth work could be unpicked and made transparent by this new strategy'.

So, I wondered if you could expand on that.

I think we see the strategy as a real opportunity. I think the review highlighted some of the issues around it being a meaningful document for much of the sector, and I think—we're a membership organisation—our experience of working with a number of youth workers who are on the ground is that they felt that that the current strategy, or the strategy we've had the last two years, wasn't something that impacted much on their practice. So, we see this strategy as an opportunity to give clarity, cohesion and real guidance to the sector and to clarify—I suppose to embed and to enshrine the key purposes and principles of youth work within it, which weren't necessarily within the previous strategy. So, I'll hand over to Emma here, really. The key principles should be core to the strategy, which should then allow us to unpick and to demonstrate that the strategy can apply to the diverse and complex nature of youth work in Wales. So, the voluntary sector youth work may differ to the statutory sector's type of youth work, and the strategy should be something that's applicable to all. So, it's a real opportunity, really, rather than a criticism necessarily. It's a real opportunity to develop something that becomes meaningful and can shape practice, rather than something that has been alien to a lot of youth workers in Wales.

Just looking at the written evidence from Youth Cymru on the issue of the establishment of a national model, you said that there could be value in this, but then went on to say that it

'runs the risk of being overly prescriptive and potentially restrictive and detrimental to creativity and innovation'.

I just wonder, on balance, is this something you support or not?

11:55

We do support it. Again, it depends what type of model it is. We need a model to bring the sector together. When I look back historically, when we did have a Wales Youth Agency, it was very proactive on the ground, workers were very much working together, there were much more close relationships, there were groups working together on very practical issues, working with young people, whereas now, when you talk to youth workers out there, they don't really know who their civil servants are. They don't really know that much about what's the policy context and who is making those decisions relating to young people. We feel it would bring the sector together, provide more governance and raise the profile of the profession.

What we are concerned about is whether it would restrict some of the smaller national voluntary organisations and they would perhaps lose some of their innovation and creativity. We are quite fortunate in Youth Cymru that we've got two chief executives who are job sharing at the moment, but they work incredibly hard. A lot of their time and effort is spent on drawing funding in. We were wondering would this be restricted with a national body.

So, for example, we've had some funding, historically, over the last few years, from the Big Lottery, and we've run a music project that has developed young people's ability to engage with the creative arts, to be entrepreneurs and to develop their employment prospects. Now, we would like to see this model allow us to continue to run these projects within Wales, and not be restrictive and be able to be responsive to external opportunities that arise through our partnerships with Youth Scotland, Youth Action Northern Ireland and the five-nation partnerships that we have, and any funding beyond that.

So, a model—yes, we support it in theory, and we think it would be great in terms of creating cohesion and giving coherency to the sector, but we would like it to ensure that the diversity of the sector is recognised and responded to, so that it's not simply about one model that fits all, and that it's a creative sector. There's a lot of work that we do that, perhaps, isn't recognised; I think that was brought up earlier, and we want it to be fit for purpose and fit for all.

I understand. Thank you for clarifying. Could I ask what the Children in Wales perspective is on this?

I think, for us, the principles of the UNCRC have got to be fundamental to any model, and that's then—. I think we would like to see a lot more about what this model would look like in terms of how it links across to other services for children and young people. So, the youth work profession, as it were, needs to have support and opportunities to develop. I have to be honest, there are so many different professions working with children and young people, if it was in our gift in Wales to rationalise that a bit—that's a personal view. There are school counsellors, there are youth workers, there are play workers, there are social workers, there are all sorts of people working with the same child, perhaps.

But a model—there's got to be some strategic method of going forward in a coherent way, but it shouldn't be so inflexible that it can't actually—. I mentioned the BAME community's support for their young people. A model could not be developed that doesn't actually consider communities' involvement in supporting. So, is it youth work or is it supporting youth? I think that's perhaps where Children in Wales would come from.

Over the years, we've seen a coming together, in a way, on rights between the youth sector and the children's rights sector. It started with younger children and it's been strengthening and working collaboratively more and more. So, I think it's possible, but I think we need young people and workers to be very involved in the design of a model—not to have it top-down.

Yes. And the Government's establishment of an interim youth board—what do you think of that and how do you expect it to relate to the ministerial youth work reference group?

We think, in principle, it's a good idea as long as it doesn't duplicate the work of the youth work reference group. What it would need is very clear and distinct terms of reference. It needs to have representatives from the voluntary, the maintained and the third sectors, and, of course, representatives of young people as well, and higher education institutions, of course. And, of course, we want to make sure that it's not another level of bureaucracy, that it's got to be a facility, really, to draw the sector together and be able to drive it forward.

12:00

Well, we weren't invited onto the original reference group, so—

I have to say, knowing Keith Towler was involved there, we had a children's rights advocate in that reference group. I think it's a good idea. It's got to be co-ordinated. What I would say is that I think the need to have youth justice—. Representation of the right areas of activity with children and young people would have to be there—the health of children and young people. It's like turning a tanker around, isn't it, into a model where the board actually has young people helping to drive it through. Young Wales is a network that—there are various models that they influence. There's a co-chair of the outcomes for children group in social care who is a care-experienced young person himself. How we get the voices of those receiving youth support into that board would be really important.

Mark, I'm going to go on to Hefin now, if that's okay. 

We're moving right on. With regard to the development of the curriculum, the new curriculum, we haven't had very positive reports about the role of the strategic stakeholder group for education reform. Children in Wales are on the strategic stakeholder group; what are your views about how you've been able to influence curriculum reform?

I would agree with the children's commissioner. Initially, I think the whole—. We've had various meetings with Graham Donaldson, who has been very positive about the whole ethos of what was supposed to be happening. I think, in fairness, the speed of what the task is has been a pressure on Welsh Government, but in terms of—.

Originally, there were three—. The children's commissioner's office, the National Union of Students Wales and ourselves pushed very hard to have a children and young people's group that could influence the curriculum, especially on the well-being agenda. That was established, but then it fizzled out. So, we've been fighting, of late, to have it re-established, and there was actually a Young Wales evening event, a question time on well-being, where the Cabinet Secretary for Education was present, and she understood that this was an important matter, and so the director of education in Welsh Government has re-established that group. So, that's the young people's voices.

I did hear the previous witness from the Urdd. I feel pretty much the same as she does, that we've turned up, almost like a conference, a presentation, of what's going on. Having said that, I think there must be—. The deputy head responsible for the well-being strand of work, he came to one of the events and spoke to young people, and there's clearly, probably, quite a lot going on out there, but we just don't know about it, in terms of positive activity. There may be a lot more engagement—

Who do you perceive to be responsible for the design and development of the curriculum? Who will you be looking to influence?

I think it's one of those co-production developments, that, if the ethos of the well-being of children and young people is really important for them to be able to learn, then there's a—all the teachers, the professions, they need to have their say, but actually the young people receiving the education are another, and the non-statutory sector, because—

Do you think there are too many groups involved in the development of this, which makes it hard for you to pin down someone to influence?

There's such a lot going on. Chris, you've been more directly involved, haven't you?

What I would say is: the missing link around that table is young people, and we've now got young people actually telling us—because we're going to run a major national event in the autumn looking at the global achievement gap with skills and creative thinking skills, the ability to learn and interact—the curriculum needs to change in line with them.

12:05

Wouldn't that be happening in pioneer schools, though?

It may be happening in pioneer schools, but, in the work that we're doing with young people, we're saying that they're a lost voice in developing the curriculum. So, they're not actually—. Although, they are the benefits—

We've had no involvement whatsoever. We did make some attempts at one point to become involved. Simply, we have a qualification that we manage in Wales. It's a progressive qualification that's been developed to accredit youth work. In Scotland, they use that qualification; it's part of their Scottish Qualifications Framework, so it's on their qualification framework. We had the opportunity and we still have the opportunity to shape that qualification to make it meet some of the assessment and qualification needs, the achievement and recognition needs, of young people. We have attempted to contact someone. We've got no further than a letter from a Minister saying to contact somebody, and we did, on a number of occasions. So, we know nothing—

You're not involved in the strategic stakeholder group, though, are you?

No, we have no involvement whatsoever, though we would like to be a part.

It doesn't sound like it'll get you very far, to be honest with you.

I have to say that that stakeholder group has amalgamated the additional learning needs network, and Children in Wales has been very involved in influencing there. So, that's been a very positive experience. I have to speak as our experience has been. I feel that the initiative is so big that, again, going back to children's rights, it's how the culture of looking at how to develop something from the perspective of the children and young people—that is a massive challenge within an education setting. It seems to be very much dependent on the personalities of headteachers or interests of headteachers. Some are brilliant, you know. I think we just would like to get more involved, and I think the whole of the third sector would.

One last thing on that. I feel that local authorities could be a gateway to that. Is that fair? Do you think local authorities could be more open in allowing you in to the development?

Yes. And schools, but—

Yes. Local education authorities as gateways to schools.

Yes. The national group is important to us, as a relatively small organisation, in terms of getting into 22 local authorities and that sort of thing, but, yes, I take your point. They could help. Yes.

We've heard from the Urdd that it submitted a paper to the Welsh Government in 2018 proposing a national framework for Welsh-medium youth work provision. We had a discussion with representatives earlier. Were you aware of this? Catriona, were you aware of this? Or Chris?

Chris Richards 12:08:05