A Youth Work Response to COVID-19

Time out from school since March raises real fears for young people’s education and wellbeing. For vulnerable young people ‘off the radar’, with little or no contact with formal and statutory services, there are concerns too for their safety.

There is an urgent need to regain lost ground in teaching and learning, with little prospect of schools and colleges fully re-opening until September 2020, at the earliest. Any provision made over the summer holidays is at the discretion of schools and academy trusts. Yet, just when they are needed most, most youth services and activities are closed.

A new report published today by the National Youth Agency (NYA) calls for an immediate package of support to deploy youth workers for summer activities and schools outreach.

  1. Mobilising youth workers to support young people post-lockdown and to be ready for school, unlocking youth services as an essential service and classifying youth workers as key workers.
  2. Re-opening youth centres for additional capacity in line with social distancing and safety measures to support group sessions, as well as the use of school buildings for youth sector activities.
  3. Supporting vulnerable young people in particular to catch-up and be school-ready for September, and including alternative provision for education (AP).

National Youth Agency CEO Leigh Middleton said:

The debate on re-opening schools and colleges needs to move on quickly from the logistical arrangements of social distancing and desk-space, and beyond teaching lessons. It requires a more imaginative response starting with young people’s needs, how best to engage them back into education and to re-imagine the school day.

Youth work has a much bigger part to play to ensure no young person is ‘left behind’. However the role of youth work is largely absent from the national debate on our young people who are missing out on school. We need to act now to mobilise youth work for summer activities and help young people to be ready to return to school and college from September.

Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield added:

Most young people have been out of school for three months already, with another three months before they get back into the classroom. As we emerge from lockdown, we need to look at how young people can benefit, and quickly. Let’s support youth workers in and around schools and make sure that those young people who are facing particular disadvantages and struggles have the help they need to recover and get ahead.

The recommendations from this report, ‘Time Out – reimagining schools’, support young people’s education to:

  • Catch-up through the summer months in response to lockdown and self isolation
  • Prepare now and be sure-footed in the support needed when schools re-open fully
  • Engage with and listen to young people, to be confident in their futures

Contact: jonathanh@nya.org.uk

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