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REPORT ON THE FIRST YEAR OF CONNEXIONS PARTNERSHIPS

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A report by the Office for Standards in Education on the first year...
A report by the Office for Standards in Education on the first year

of Connexions, the government's integrated support service for young

people aged 13-19 in England, is published today.

Connexions helps young people to engage in learning, achieve their

full potential and make a smooth transition to adult life.

Ofsted carried out 15 inspections of Connexions partnerships and

focused on four themes: partnerships, the role of the personal

adviser, the involvement of young people, and careers education and

guidance.

Connexions partnerships: the first year 2001-2002 says that the

partnerships have devoted a considerable amount of time, energy and

resources to establishing the working relationships and structures

required for the Connexions Service. The earlier Connexions pilots

have helped to break down barriers between services and the

Connexions Service is promoting a positive climate of working

collaboratively. The commitment to working in partnership is strong,

but there is much to do to ensure that this principle is put into

practice. In two thirds of the partnerships, some key partners are

not appropriately represented on partnership boards and at local

management committee level.

The large majority of partnerships have not made clear the nature of

the service that they intend to provide and how this relates to the

roles and responsibilities of partner organisations. Agreements,

protocols and procedures for joint working are underdeveloped, and

have caused tensions in relationships with some partners which

inhibit their full participation.

Most partnerships have made good efforts to involve young people in

the development and implementation of the Connexions Service. Young

people made a significant contribution to the design of information

materials and to the selection and appointment of staff. However, the

range and number of young people with an understanding of Connexions

and of those actively involved in determining the direction of the

service were low in a majority of partnerships. Young people are

represented on some local management committees. However, few

partnerships have in place a co-ordinated strategy to ensure the

systematic involvement of young people throughout the Connexions

Service.

The report says that partnerships have been successful in securing a

cohort of personal advisers who are enthusiastic and committed to the

aims of Connexions. Most young people respond positively to the work

of the personal adviser. They become more self confident, overcome

barriers to progression and engage more effectively in learning.

However, key aspects of Connexions practice and the management and

support arrangements for personal advisers are inconsistent or not

yet established. Partnerships have yet to put in place sufficiently

robust arrangements and procedures for needs assessment, planning,

recording, referral and tracking to ensure that the work of the

personal adviser is effective. There is also a lack of clarity and

understanding about the role and deployment of the personal adviser

across many partnership areas and within schools.

The implementation of the Connexions Service has maintained, restored

and, in some instances, improved the provision for careers education

and guidance in schools and colleges. The quality of practice in

guidance sessions is good overall, although, in a small number of

sessions, personal advisers fail to provide sufficient challenge to

young people's aspirations. The quality of target-setting and action

planning varies in quality. Across the partnerships, the quality of

careers guidance for young people on work-based training routes is

also variable. The quality of information in many schools relating to

work- based training opportunities is poor.

NOTES

1. Connexions Partnerships: the first year 2001-2002 (HMI 521) is

published on the Ofsted web site. Copies are available from Ofsted's

Publications Centre, free of charge, telephone 07002 637833, fax

07002 693274, or e-mail freepublications@ofsted.gov.uk

2. Connexions partnerships bring together all the services young

people may need including private and voluntary sector groups, youth

and careers services, and government departments and agencies. All

young people have access to a personal adviser to help them choose

the right courses and careers, as well as broader personal

development through activities like sport, performing arts and

volunteering activities. Connexions also provides help and advice on

issues such as drug abuse, sexual health and homelessness.

3. Connexions Partnerships are being set up in each of the 47 Local

Learning and Skills Council areas and have overall responsibility for

local delivery. The first 12 Connexions Partnerships began their work

in April 2001. Forty two partnerships have now been set up and all 47

partnerships will be operational by next year. Local management

committees, which usually cover the same areas as local authorities,

are responsible for bringing together partners and for day-to-day

management of Connexions in their area.

4. Her Majesty's Inspectors led the inspection teams that also

comprised Additional Inspectors and inspectors from the Adult

Learning Inspectorate. In addition, observers from the Connexions

Service National Unit accompanied inspectors on some aspects of the

monitoring process. Inspections were in two stages. In the first

stage inspectors had discussions with partnership representatives and

staff and examined documents provided by the partnership. The second

stage focused primarily on observation of practice and making

judgements on the impact of such practice on young people's learning

and development.

5. Examples of good practice are included in the report.

The partnerships visited were:

Connexions Cheshire and Warrington

Connexions Coventry and Warwickshire

Connexions Cumbria

Connexions Cornwall and Devon Ltd

Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership Ltd

Connexions Humber

Connexions Lincolnshire and Rutland

North London Connexions

Connexions Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Ltd

The Shropshire, Telford and the Wrekin Connexions Partnership

South London Connexions

Connexions South Yorkshire Ltd

Suffolk Connexions

Black Country Connexions

Connexions for the West of England.

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