How can the NYA help youth workers embed the National Curriculum into their everyday practice?

Since its publication in September 2020 the National Youth Work Curriculum has provided the youth work sector with a framework to help guide the design of youth work delivery nationally and locally.  Comprising ten key themes, ranging from Healthy and Safe Relationships to Global Citizenship, the Curriculum provides clear, practical and quantifiable learning goals which reflect the broad remit of youth work and crucially, how youth work supports other sectors’ priorities.  

Being able to clearly describe what youth workers do, has proved invaluable for youth work organisations to be recognised as credible partners in addressing wider agendas around employability, social inclusion and crime reduction.

Diverting young people from entering the criminal justice system, for example, is much more than simply providing diversionary activities – it’s about changing negative behaviours and helping young people to envisage a positive future for themselves. Gess Aird, CEO Kinetic Youth, describes how using the Curriculum has helped raise the profile of her organisation’s work:

            ‘The cross sector briefing paper that aligns the National Youth Work Curriculum with youth justice has helped our commissioners and partners to fully understand how youth work can be a part of the solution. It has provided professional parity and raised the status of youth work within the secure estate.’

– Gess Aird, CEO Kinetic Youth Ltd

Furthermore, large funding providers have begun to reference the Curriculum as a useful resource. Commissioners nationally see the framework as a positive means to assess impact of delivery and therefore also look to see this referenced in tender submissions.

Over the past year, the National Youth Agency has reached out across the sector and listened to the voices of front-line practitioners, commissioners, funders and young people. We’ve witnessed some outstanding examples of youth work delivery informed by the National Youth Work Curriculum.

Identity and Belonging case study
In Bromsgrove, at The Hub project, young people have been working alongside their youth workers to develop youth led training for practitioners in the youth work sector, formal education sector and beyond. Young people spent time looking at their own identities and where they belonged in their communities. Their experiences highlighted a lack of empathy and understanding from practitioners and peers, something they wanted to positively influence. Together they devised, developed and delivered LGBTQ+ awareness training resources that are delivered locally and nationally to improve relationships and raise awareness of issues faced by LGBTQ+ young people.

Whilst there are some great examples of the Curriculum giving youth work organisations a robust structure for their activities, we also  know that we need to do more to raise awareness of and accessibility to the framework. We know that some practitioners in the field feel disconnected from the Curriculum, knowing that it could support their delivery, but not quite understanding how to practically apply it in their everyday work with young people.

With so much positivity surrounding the framework, buy in from funders and commissioners, support from DCMS and backing from front line practitioners, we are committed to finding out how we can now better support the sector to practically embed the Curriculum with their activities.

Come join us on Friday 11th November at 10.30am where we will be asking you to explore this question and help us strengthen the support we can offer to youth workers nationally as they support young people through their journey to independence.

Esther Horner-Aird

Deputy Director of Youth Work

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