An Alternative to Accreditation

21 February 2009 — 2 Comments

Mike has written a great blog post about evaluating youth work which I’m really keen to explore.

As I’ve stated before, I’m currently researching models of evaluating youth work as part of my dissertation. It’s tentatively titled ‘Relational Youth Work: re-discovering an alternative to outcome-based models’. Basically my premise is that the dominant outcome-based model of evaluation in youth work is flawed because youth work is not about achieving outcomes, it is fundamentally about process or journey. This is not to say evaluation and accreditation in youth work are worthless, rather they are essential to help work focussed and accountable. Therefore I’m trying to build a more suitable framework for evaluating youth work.

This is where Mike’s model holds some interest for me. Rather than setting targets and then working to reach them, Mike (and I) are interested in capturing the ‘distance travelled’ by an individual during their involvement with a particular piece of youth work.

The real aim is to provide an opportunity for participants to consider their personal skills (and to be aware of what is meant by skills), and very importantly to provoke discussion between young people and those supporting them so they can consider what opportunities a project presents for personal development. An example being: a young person rates themselves low on ‘communication skills’, they discuss with a supporting adult how they can work on improving this during a project, the project leader ensures this young person gets necessary opportunities and support to practise their communication skills, and then at the end the young person revisits and updates their rating (which can be positive or negative).

I’m hoping to adapt Mike’s model to make it useful in a wide range of informal education settings including whole agency evaluation.

If you have any thoughts on evaluation in youth work, or about Mike’s model, please get in contact via the comments below!


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

2 responses to An Alternative to Accreditation

  1. So is there any importance of accreditation within youth work? thanks

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  1. The Great Divide! | Jon Jolly: My Life & Youth Work - 5 March 2009

    […] writing my dissertation, I’ve been researching evaluation in the field of youth work. This included two (provocatively worded) questionnaires that […]

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