The Youth Service in Britain
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A The administrative origin of the Service Circular to the local educational authorities for higher education. Circular 1486, Board of Education, November 27, 1939. THE SERVICE OF YOUTH 1. The social and physical devdopment of boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 20, who have ceased full-time education, has for long been neglected in this country. In spite of the efforts of local education authorities and voluntary organisations, provision has always fallen short of the need and to-day considerably less than half of these boys and girls bdong to any organisation. In some parts of the country, clubs and other facilities for social and physical recreation are almost non-existent. War emphasises this defect in our social services; to-day the black-out, the strain of war and the disorganisation of family life have created conditions which constitute a serious menace to youth. The Government are determined to prevent the recurrence during this war of the social problem which arose during the last. 2. They have accordingly decided that the Board of Education shall undertake a direct responsibility for youth welfare. A National Youth Committee has been appointed to advise the President of the Board and a special branch of the Board has been organised to administer grants for the maintenance and devdopment of facilities. The Committee includes members of local education authorities and voluntary organisations and also others competent to speak on behalf of industry, medicine and physical training. The purpose of this Committee will be to provide central guidance and leadership to the movement throughout the country. 3. The Committee has already taken practical steps to deal with the immediate difficulties arising out of the present abnormal conditions. They have facilitated the re-opening of clubs and pressed for the rdease of premises requisitioned for war purposes, and they have recommended the provision of financial assistance, through voluntary organisations, to hdp clubs and centres to hire premises where necessary, to provide equipment and to secure competent leaders and instructors. This financial assistance is being provided and will include grant-aid to the Central Council of Recreative Physical Training for carrying on the Council's valuable work in maintaining and devdoping the supply of trained leadership in all forms of recreational activity. The Council will be happy to co-operate with any local authority, voluntary body, industrial or other organisation that requests them to do so. 4. But the problem goes deeper; it challenges our whole sense of social responsibility. Now, as never before, there is a call for the close association of local education authorities and voluntary bodies in full partnership in a common enterprise; nor need this entail any loss of
prestige or individuality on either side. The Board have made clear their intentions by setting up a National Youth Committee representing all interests, with the Parliamentary Secretary as Chairman. The National Youth Committee will have as its counterpart local Youth Committees representative of both the local education authority and the voluntary organisations. For administrative purposes the local education authority will communicate direct with the Board, but the National Youth Committee will wdcome suggestions from both them and the voluntary organisations on matters affecting youth. 5. The Board, therefore, urge that all local education authorities for Higher Education should now take steps to see that properly constituted Youth Committees exist in their areas. Suggestions are made in the Appendix to this Circular as to the steps which might be taken to this end. In some areas excellent Committees already exist and there is no need for any change except in name. Elsewhere it may be necessary to reorganise an existing Committee or to set up a new Committee. In some places it may be thought best to form a sub-committee of the Education Committee under Section 4 (5) of the Education Act, 1921, with adequate representation of the local voluntary bodies; in other places it will be found preferable to establish an Advisory Committee in close association with the local education authority. Special arrangements will be necessary in County areas to associate Youth Committees in the Boroughs and Urban Districts with the County Education Committee to whom such matters stand referred; but this should present no difficulty where, as is frequently the case, there is already machinery for ddegating the work of Higher Education. It is important that from the outset the constitution and functions of the Committees should be clearly defined. In all cases it is essential that the Secretary should be a person fully acceptable both to the statutory and voluntary bodies, and the local education authority should generally make themsdves responsible for seeing that the Committee is properly staffed and equipped with office accommodation and clerical assistance.