Compare and contrast the two green papers ‘Every Child Matters’ and ‘Youth Matters’.

In this essay I am going to be looking at the Every Child Matters and Youth Matters green papers.

Firstly I will start off by summarising the two green papers and highlighting the key points and challenges that come from these two papers. Secondly I will introduce the focus which I am going to look at in more detail. I am going to look at the role of the school in relation to these green papers. More specifically that of the extended schools agenda and what the implications are for youth workers, as well as discussing the theory of formal and informal education. Thirdly will put forward some of my thoughts on the hidden agenda of extended schools. I will then conclude this essay by summing up some of the key points.

Schools have a large role to play in both the Every Child Matters and Youth Matters green paper. I am unable to discuss the subject as a whole and therefore will not be looking at the role of the school when it comes to 14-19 education and information, guidance and advice.

The Every Child Matter green paper starts off by accounting for the past failing to protect vulnerable and recognizes that this has not just been a one off incident with Victoria Climbie. It highlights the problems of poor information sharing between key services; no one key person to take accountability; it was the face to face workers that were coping with inadequate management, poor training and not enough staff to cover the work load.

The paper talks about the improvements that have occurred and goes on to identify improvements in education, the reduction in children living in household with low incomes, a reduced number of young offenders re-offending and conception rates in under 18’s had dropped. The introduction of Sure Start and Tax Credits benefits will only be able to be seen in the future.

The paper also acknowledges that there are still areas that need to see improvement, such as truancy, 16-18 not in education or training, educational success for children in care, inequalities in achievement for those from different economic backgrounds.

After consulting children, young people and families five outcomes were decided upon to focus the vision of future outcomes.

The government are going to build on these outcomes by Sure Start centres, extended schools services, Young people’s funds, improvements in child and adolescent mental health and speech and language therapy, addressing homelessness and revamping the youth justice system. To make progress developments are going to be aimed at four key areas:

The Youth Matters green paper came as response to the Every Child Matters five outcomes. This paper recognises that for many young people the transition known as adolescents comes with many challenges and is often dealt with well by most teenagers, for some this period proves much more difficult. It is during this period in life that young people become cut off from school and take up habits, such as smoking, drinking or drugs. For some this will escalate further, leading to anti-social behaviour and crime. The paper moves onto state that there is a balance to be drawn between the rights and responsibilities of young people.

The approach being taken by the paper acknowledges the influence that parents have in their young people lives but realises that other services have a distinct role to play in the support and activities offered to young people.

The paper highlights four key challenges that it aims to address;

  1. “how to engage more young people in positive activities and empower them to shape the services they receive;
  2. how to encourage more young people to volunteer and become involved in their communities;
  3. how to provide better information, advice and guidance to young people to help them make informed choices about their lives; and
  4. how to provide better and more personalised intensive support for each young person who has serious problems or gets into trouble” (DFES, 2005:4).

The first challenge the paper looks at is that of young people in control of where they want to go and the things they want to do. The idea is to give the young people some financial control by;

  1. ‘opportunities cards’ the aim of these being that young people will be able to access leisure service at reduces rates. The cards can be topped up with money by parents, local authorities or the young person themselves. The paper also talks about the card benefits being withheld or withdrawn from young people who are involved in anti-social behaviour, but is quick to follow up in the next sentence that it will also be used to reward young people who are they deem to the improving or volunteering.
  2. ‘opportunities fund’ the aim being for young people to have access to money to fund things to do and places to go. One of the key elements to this fund is that young people are the ones to decide how this money is to be spent (DFES, 2005:5&6).

The second challenge focuses on how to engage more young people in assisting in projects that are taking part in their community. As well as this the challenge also aims to raise the idea of peer mentoring, volunteering throughout their education and the rewards that can be offered to those young people who engage in these activities.

The third challenge sets out guidance on the support that young people should be receiving at key transitions in their education. It put the emphasis on schools to be offering quality advice to their student that the school should be held to accountable for. This advice should enable each student no matter what their need reach their full potential.

Finally the fourth challenge looks at those young people who have serious problems. It talks about the importance of a lead professional who will co-ordinate the support that is given to that individual young person. The establishment of Children’s Trust here will see the government providing funding that the trust will then use to tackle problems more holistically (Dfes, 2005).

I am going to explore of role of the school in these two papers and where youth workers fit into this, in relation to extended schools. Both green papers talk about extended school services, but there is much more of an emphasis on the schools role in the Every Child Matters paper than Youth Matters. These are not first government paper to look at the role of schools and services in connection to young people’s development. The 'Fairbairn-Milson' Report 1969 saw Fairburn looking at Youth Work, Schooling and Higher Education and Milson looking at Youth Work and it’s relation to the ‘adult community’. Fairburn wanted to see youth work located in community school’s, whereas Milson was unsure how these schools were going to be able to offer the full range of services required by the community (Smith, 2003). The Social Exclusion unit has highlighted the benefits of extra-curricular in the reduction of truancy. Engaging young people in “after-school clubs, study support, vocational learning, work experience and education-business-community links” helps them to stay motivated in school (Social Exclusion Unit, 1998: 7).

Chapter two of the Every Child Matters paper titles section 2.20 “Integrating services through extended schools and clusters of schools”. The government wants to see services such as health, social care and education joined up to act as the ‘hub’ for services to the community. Their aim is to see schools going beyond their main purpose of education. The aim is by 2010 that all children should be able to assess a wide range of activities outside of the normal school day. This also includes secondary school which are expected to be opening it doors from 8am to 6pm with a variety of activities been offered throughout the year.

Youth Matter links services and school for those young people who have issues as a means of intervention and getting them back on track. This focuses on the young person in need of fixing and that is to be done by those who have the know how. Smith, 2005 describes this as ‘Deficit/Medical model referring to a focus on individuals behaviour and what can be done to stop them in anti-social behaviour. He argues that there is a much greater need to look at the increasing divide between rich and poor, racism and political isolation of young people and their families. This is where I believe youth worker can contribute significantly to the development of young people which I will discuss later. There is also a lot of emphasis put on study support, catch up lessons and booster classes. I can see problems arising from this; if it is the school who are delivering this then teacher are the most likely to be expected to do this. This in its self can bring problems, if the teacher has had a rough day and then has to face delivering more lessons as many of their colleagues are going home, would they be in the right frame of mind? The style that many teacher adopt in the class room may be the reason the young person has got behind in their work and staying back for booster class in the same style my be of no benefit. Alternatively partner organisations may well face difficulties too, as different approaches to formal teaching can be seen as second best and be looked down upon by the school. The agenda here looks very much like raising the schools performance and reaching educational targets set by the government rather than focusing on the individual and their tailored needs. The Dfes feel that the study support is going to be able to help attendance, behaviour, motivation and self-esteem. I am concerned that the study support will be used as consequence of not working hard enough in school, and therefore turn out to be far from helping but make the situation worse. I would also be interested to see how voluntary the participation is in the study support activities.

Extended schools open up some great opportunities for youth work as well as the possibility for some difficulties. Many youth workers have been given the opportunities to work in schools with differing approaches and space proving to cause problems of varying degrees. There are those in the education system who do not understand the role of a youth worker and will not see the value of having youth workers in school. We live in a diverse world where we cannot put young people into a homogenous group and expect them all to respond to it in the same way. Youth workers could be involved in providing services both during schools hour as well as out of hours. These services can be varied and compliment the formal education that schools are best known for. There is of course some who would disagree with the benefits of informal education during the school day. Youth Matters is very much focused on activities that are offered outside of the school day and health and social service during the school day. I believe that informal education can be used effectively in what would be seen as core subjects in school as well as those which would be seen as more informal.

Teaching has very much been seen as a role of imparting information into the learner. The teacher has the knowledge/power and leaner is there to listen and absorb what is being taught. There is a clear structure and an expectation of how the learner is to behave and respond. The learner has no control over the subject being taught and only learns what the teacher wishes to teach, as they are in control of what the chose to deliver. The flip side to this is one where the teacher and learner are equal. Neither have any more power that the other. There is recognition that the roles can be changed throughout and that both have knowledge that can benefit each other. There is a relationship of trust and respect. There is no fixed learning that must take place, learning starts from where the learner is. The learning develops through the conversation and as questions are posed the learner can work through the process in way to benefit them (Rossiter, 1987).

Looking at these to approaches the first I will refer to as formal and the second informal, it is clear to see in some school subjects the formal approach is of some benefit. There is however many that would benefit from an informal approach even in subjects that would be classed a core subjects. Maths jumps to mind, budgeting/problem solving is a key life skill. Giving the young people the opportunity in Maths to work out the cost of taking their class on an educational trip looking at the transport cost, entrance costs and discounts available for group booking will incorporate many mathematical skills. This sort of exercise focuses on informal learning it puts the learner in control of their learning with the support of the teacher to assist in some of the skills they will need to work out the figures. For those young people who find sitting and listening styles of Maths difficult a practical exercise that results in something is likely to be of much more benefit. Person, social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE) is a subject where I believe youth worker can be of huge benefit in the extended schools agenda. PSHCE is a subject where an informal education approach could be used effectively. Starting with what the students know and then journeying with them to help move them on in there understanding and learning; acknowledges where they are at and the seeks out what they already know and opens up learning opportunities to fill in the gap. It may be that those gaps are filled in by their peers as they work in groups or by the youth worker as issues are discussed. This style of working gives the young person the chance to challenge what is being discussed and think or take action. For many teachers a young person challenging then is threatening and is seen as a challenge to their position and authority. For a youth worker it is a process that is used to more a young person forward in their journey through life.

Extended schools is not just looking at services working within the school day but outside it also. Every Child Matters talks about more services being offered on school ground where as Youth Matter mentions this, but also acknowledges that not all young people will what to go to activities that take place on school premises and put the emphasis on schools to signpost them to other services. Here is the second good opportunity youth worker have. They can either offer activities on the school premises or off the school premises. Offering services off the school ground removes some of the restrictions that may be put into place by the school.

I feel that there is a hidden agenda behind extended schools. The fact that child care is being offered from 8am till 6pm gives the government the chance to push the agenda of getting more parents out to work. This is likely to put most pressure on lone parents who have chosen to stay at home and look after their child or those who don’t want to work. Although lone parents cannot be forced to go out to work it will be the case that through the ‘support’ offered through government services this agenda will be pushed as the preferred option and will offer better financial benefits than that for staying at home to care for your child. Having extending schools also appears to keep young people off the streets and therefore keeps them out of trouble. It puts the emphasis on purposefully activities which then implies that they can only be undertaken if an adult is present to supervise. Hanging about on the street or at the park with your friends is not on the agenda. The services and interventions in school aim to reduce anti-social behaviour and get those young people back on track to become good citizens who end in paid work and contributing to the economy. Having young people with drug habits or who have mental health problems puts communities under strain. As I have mentioned before it misses the roots causes of why some young people engage in theses behaviours. The papers do not talk about educating young people politically about the structures that are in place to prevent then from striving forward. It does not address the hegemonic ideology that is current in today’s society. To do this would take a major reworking of the government policies and thinking of those in positions of power. Neil Thompson discusses this further in his book Promoting Equality. He talks about the effect that structure can have on the way we see thing. He discusses how the Person Social and structural ideologies can impact on how we see our position in society as well those around us.

In conclusion, the role of the youth worker in supporting the extended school agenda has a number of benefits. It gives the worker the opportunity to work on the schools ground which for some youth workers may not have been possible before. Youth workers are able to offer activities off site which may engage young people who would not normally consider staying behind if the activity was on school premises. There is the potential for youth workers to get involved in the more formal process of learning but I feel this will be restricted to those students who are seen as failing in the formal classroom setting rather than it being a choice for all students. The paper imply to me that youth work is best set outside of the formal school day which can place less value on the activities that are on offer. It comes across in the Every Child Matters paper that extended schools and services are very orientated to primary schools and sure start centres. Youth Matters does talk about secondary extended schools and services but it comes across as second in line to primary and again focuses on young people who have more serious problems rather than intervening before the problems get to that stage. I think that there is a whole group of young people who are living on the ‘bread line’ and are just getting by, they are behaving in school so they get over looked but would benefit from some of the support offered through the extended schools agenda.


HM Government. 2005. Youth Matters. Norwich: The Stationary Office.

HM Government. 2003. Every Child Matters. Norwich: The Stationary Office.

Kuar Paur, P and White, W. School based Youth Work. In: Factor, F., Chauchan, V. and Pitts, J. ed. 2001. The Russell House companion to working with young people. Lyme Regis: Russell House.

Rosseter, B. Youth Workers as Educators. In: Jeffs, T and Smith, M., ed. 1987. Youth Work. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press.

Smith, M K. 2003. Youth and community work in the 70s, the encyclopedia of informal education,

Smith, M. K. 2005. 'Background to the Green Paper for Youth 2005', the encyclopedia of informal education, work/green_paper.htm. First published; March 20, 2005.

Smith, M. K. 2005. 'Youth Matters - The Green Paper for Youth 2005', the encyclopaedia of informal education, work/green_paper.htm. First published; March 20, 2005.

Smith, M. K. 2004, 2005 Extended schooling - some issues for informal and community education', the encyclopedia of informal education,

Social Exclusion Unit. 1998. Truancy and School Exclusion. Social Exclusion Unit.

Thompson, N. 2003. Promoting Equality. Basingstoke: Plagrave Macmillan

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