The strengths of Dorset Youth Service clearly outweigh its weaknesses. The performance of the service is good overall. The service has a clear sense of purpose. Standards achieved by young people and the quality of the youth work are mostly good and some of the work observed is very good.
Inspectors judged the range of youth work provision to be satisfactory. The majority of staff demonstrate a good understanding of the educational principals of youth work and of the needs of the young people they work with. Relationships between young people and workers are generally positive.
The service has strong links with the voluntary sector and the Connexions service. A good curriculum framework is in place. However, there is no systematic approach to assessing the needs of all groups of young people and further development is needed to ensure a more consistent emphasis on educational outcomes and accreditation in the planning of programmes and sessions. The service's intention to promote good race relations is also not translated into action.
Inspectors found that the council should:
* develop a more systematic approach to assessing the needs of young people in each area
* place greater emphasis on promoting positive attitudes towards diversity and racial harmony in particular
* strengthen professional supervision so that it has a greater impact in raising the standards of youth work
* provide greater support for youth workers in the implementation of the curriculum
* develop a more consistent emphasis on educational outcomes and accreditation in the planning of youth work programmes and sessions
* provide more systematic opportunities for sharing good practice
Dorset has a population of 390,000 which includes some 33,000 young people aged between 13 to 19 years old, of whom 2.5% are of minority ethnic heritage. The youth service is currently in a period of transition, during which it is re-focusing its provision to meet government expectations for youth work. In the current year, the anticipated budget is some£3m, about 25% of which represents additional external income.