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'CONNEXIONS WEST OF ENGLAND IS A GOOD PARTNERSHIP'

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The inspection report of the Connexions partnership for the West of ...
The inspection report of the Connexions partnership for the West of

England by the Office for Standards in Education is published today.

Connexions West of England is a support service for young people aged

14 - 19 years and covers the four local education authorities (LEAs)

of Bristol, south Gloucestershire, north Somerset, Bath and north-

east Somerset.

The inspectors judge that Connexions West of England is a good

partnership which provides an extensive service to many young people.

Overall, young people's achievement and the quality of Connexions

practice are good. The partnership provides good value for money.

Training organisations and statutory agencies work well together to

encourage young people, particularly the most vulnerable and

disaffected, to further their studies. Senior managers make a

significant contribution to the work of other organisations involved

in education and support. Good progress is being made in the

development of better integrated services for young people.

However, young people themselves are not sufficiently involved in the

planning and decision-making of the partnership. Joint planning and

liaison, particularly with schools, is inconsistent and the use of

assessment to identify individual needs and record progress is

underdeveloped.

The report identifies the following achievements by the partnership.

Aspects that Connexions West of England does well include:

- it raises standards of achievement of young people who make good

progress;

- it inspires young people to grow in confidence and make informed

choices and it provides effective targeted support for young people

with complex and multiple needs;

- it provides highly skilled and experienced staff who are very

committed to the needs of young people in the area;

- it develops many good initiatives to help young people learn and

continue their education and training. However, the inspectors re port

that the following aspects could be improved:

- the involvement of young people in the identification and

assessment of their needs and the planning and development of

provision;

- the consistency of systems to monitor, evaluate, record and track

young people's progress;

- the mechanisms for evaluating the quality of provision provided by

partners in the Connexions service;

- management processes to take better account of the views of

practitioners and offer opportunities to share good practice.

Alongside many prosperous areas there are pockets of deprivation,

notably in Bristol. In some communities, education is not given a

high priority and this has a detrimental effect on the number of

young people pursuing their education or training beyond the age of

16. The lack of good public transport and high unemployment in

certain areas are also contributory factors which impede the progress

of young people.

Forty per cent of the population is based in the Bristol area. The

proportion of young people in the area from black and minority ethnic

origins makes up just over 4 per cent of the total population

although local variations range from 2 per cent to 8 per cent. There

are some 105 establishments providing education. These include

schools, further and higher education colleges and a sixth form

college.

Connexions West of England started in April 2001 as a 'direct

delivery' organisation. It is a company limited by guarantee. At the

time of the inspection the partnership had a total of 226 staff of

whom 126 were personal advisers. The partnership has a grant of

£7.6m and additional income of £4m.

The report is available here.

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