10.4 Quality and innovation in youth work
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The organisation of “youth work” activities especially within Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs des mineurs) is based on a framework of rules, the purpose of which — apart from guaranteeing the safety and protection of minors and compliance with staff/child ratios — is to ensure that the activities these centres offer are of a high educational and quality standard and that the youth workers have the required competences.
Youth workers professional standards
In order to ensure the quality of youth work, the ministry in charge of youth has developed training (certifying or non-certifying) for youth workers (socio-educational facilitator). These trainings allow them to acquire the required skills.
More generally, a youth worker is expected to be able to:
- design and implement an educational project that takes into account the educational needs of children in their leisure time,
- lead and support a team around a collective and socially useful project.
- forge relationships with the various educators of children (especially parents) and with the environment of collective reception of minors (centre),
- create the conditions for a reception that guarantees the well-being, development and safety of children and adolescents.
Among these youth work training and certifications there is the BAFA.
The BAFA - Facilitator’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’aptitude aux fonctions d’animateur)
The Facilitator’s Certificate of Aptitude (Brevet d’aptitude aux fonctions d’animateur), known as the BAFA, is a non-professional qualification required for the supervision of young people within Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs), and holiday and leisure centres.
BAFA training prepares its students for 5 areas of responsibility:
1) “guaranteeing the physical and moral safety of minors”;
2) “as part of a team, helping to introduce projets pédagogiques that are in line with projets éducatifs, in accordance with the rules governing ACMs”;
3) “taking part in activities, communications and the development of relationships between all those involved”;
4) “supervising and coordinating the daily routine and the activities”;
5) “helping minors to complete their projects”.
In addition, the training aims to develop four skills:
1) “the sharing and passing on of the Republic’s values, including secularism”;
2) “the making of a commitment appropriate to the social, cultural and educational context”;
3) “The building of strong individual or collective relationships with members of the team of instructors and with the minors, and helping to prevent all forms of discrimination”;
4) “where necessary, being able to provide appropriate solutions in situations involving minors”.
For more information on the youth worker trainings and certifications see chapter 10.5 Youth workers.
In addition to the trainings of the youth worker/ Socio-educational facilitators, the quality of the youth work also rests on the elaboration and the evaluation of educational projects (projets éducatifs) and pedagogic projects (projets pédagogiques).
Evaluation of youth work activities
High educational standards are achieved through educational projects (projets éducatifs) and pedagogic projects (projets pédagogiques); these are central to the provision of activities, and are covered by the CASF - Social Action and Family Code (Code de l’action sociale et des familles)
According to the guide to educational projects (Projets éducatifs et pédagogiques), produced by the Ministry of Youth: “an educational project (projet éducatif) reflects an organiser’s commitment, his/her priorities and his/her principles”.
Such projects define the meanings behind initiatives and set out guidelines and details of the resources that can be used to introduce them. They are usually multi-annual and formalised by a document. They are aimed at the teams providing the activities and also at families; such projects help them to understand the goals of the organisers who look after their children.
“Educational teams to become familiar with an organiser’s priorities and with the resources he/she provides in order to achieve them”
“Officials under the authority of the Ministers of Youth and Sports:
- to identify the educational aims being developed within each centre,
- to monitor possible deficiencies and inconsistencies between the running of the centre and its stated objectives,
- to create links with other schemes (Local Educational Contracts (contrats éducatifs locaux), Leisure Contracts (contrats temps libre), Jobs for Young People (emplois jeunes), etc.)”.
An educational project (projet éducatif) is usually developed by its organiser: an elected representative, a local or regional authority’s Youth Liaison Officer, directors of children’s activity centres or leaders of non-formal education federations. It sets guidelines for a local or regional authority’s, association’s and/or independent organisation’s socio-educational (socio-cultural) policy. It serves as a working document for the development of the pedagogical project (projet pédagogique) which is the concrete version of the educational project (projet éducatif).
An educational project (projet éducatif) is shared by all the centres that are run by a single natural or legal person. Its development may take account of observations made by other partners, chief among which will be the legal representatives of minors, by an association’s elected representatives and members, and by the facilitators. In fact certain educational projects (projets éducatifs) form part of a participatory approach.
The assessment of educational projects (projets éducatifs)
An educational project (projet éducatif) also specifies the arrangements for assessing a Community Centre for Minors (accueil collectif de mineurs) (Articles R227-23 to R227-26 of the Social Action and Family Code (code de l’action sociale et des familles)). An educational project (projet éducatif) must include a 3-year assessment of the extent to which its objectives have been met. This forms part of quality development. The standard of the activities is indeed one of the categories assessed; this includes compliance with regulations, and relevance to the needs of all the children, young people and families in the area (municipality (commune)).
These assessments can be carried out by non-formal education associations, in partnership with communities and social agencies (CAFs) in a participatory and multi-partnership approach that involves all those concerned (local or regional authority services, facilitators and associations, etc.). Methods used in the assessments may consist of semi-direct interviews (parents, teachers, municipal staff, etc.), on-the-ground observations and the collection of statistical data.
Pedagogic projects (projets pédagogiques)
Directors of Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs) and their teams implement educational projects (projets éducatifs) by means of pedagogic projects (projets pédagogiques).These documents are specific to the characteristics of each centre and are the result of a team effort. Pedagogic projects (projets pédagogiques) are not programmes of activities; they describe the educational goals of the proposed activities. However, they do specify the type of activities proposed, according to the type of facilities provided and, when physical or sports activities are involved, the conditions under which they are to take place.
According to an information sheet (fiche méthodologique) issued by the Region of Occitania’s Regional Directorate for Youth, Sport and Social Cohesion (a decentralised directorate attached to the Ministry of Youth), a pedagogic project (projet pédagogique): “is designed as a contract between an educational team, staff, parents, and minors, concerning the operating conditions; it serves as a reference throughout the initiative. It gives meaning to the activities proposed and to daily activities. It helps to build educational approaches. It identifies an organiser’s concerns”.
Directors of Centres for Minors (accueils de mineurs) develop their pedagogic projects (projets pédagogiques), in consultation with their management teams (facilitators). Minors who attend these centres may be involved in the development of these projects in ways that are appropriate to their ages.
A pedagogic project (projet pédagogique)contains a number of different elements:
_ Initial diagnosis: children using the centre, environment, resources, etc.
_ Summary of the organiser’s educational goals
_ The pedagogic goals
_ Concrete ways to achieve these pedagogic goals and also to guarantee the safety of minors
_ The type of activities proposed, according to the type of facilities provided and, when physical or sports activities are involved, the conditions under which they are to take place
_ A description of the building and the spaces used
_ The activity time/rest time ratio
_ The ways in which minors can participate
_ Where necessary, plans for minors with health problems or disabilities
_ How the team — the director, facilitators and the other staff at the Centre for Minors (accueil des mineurs) — will operate
_ The arrangements for assessing the centre
ACM Quality Charters
Other tools — modelled on charters — for developing the quality of youth work, such as “quality charter” labels, may be introduced by State services (the decentralised departments of the Ministry for Youth), in partnership with local or regional authorities, the Family Allowances Fund (Caisse d’allocations familialiales), and associations.
For example, the Community Centre for Minors (accueil collectif de mineurs) Quality Charter is a voluntary partnership arrangement; it aims to guarantee and improve the standard of the activities offered at the centres. Use of this tool (the charter) for improving Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs) is neither automatic nor obligatory.
Extensive research and analysis is being carried out on the impact of Youth Work and the socio-cultural activity professions; this is being led by the various stakeholders who are involved in Youth Work: the Ministries’ assessment services, academic (higher education) laboratories, social action agencies and non-formal education associations, some of which have their own resource centres.
General list of organisations carrying out research on Youth Work
The INJEP - National institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (institut national de la jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire)
The activity sector is one of the subjects being studied at the National Institute for Youth and non-Formal Education (institut national de la jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire), which organises seminars and lectures on the subject and regularly carries out research on the impact of Youth Work on young people and on the coordinators themselves, as well as on developments in the activities being provided.
A number of the Institute’s publications focus on the facilitators’ training and professional careers as well as on descriptions of the ACMs – Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs) where the activities take place. The Institute is, in fact, responsible for producing annual statistics on Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs). These statistics provide details of the centres’ activities: how many there are, the numbers of children enrolled, their purpose, and the type and length of stays in centres where accommodation is provided.
The INJEP’s work schedule for 2019-2020 has included, for example, plans to carry out research on the “impact of holiday camps (colonies de vacances) on young people’s development”.
The CNAF - National Family Allowances Fund (Caisse nationale des allocations familiales)
Further research is being carried out by the CNAF - National Family Allowances Fund (Caisse nationale des allocations familiales), which implements family and social policy and provides funding for Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs) (out-of-school activity centres) and training courses for facilitators.
The CNAF has a research policy that results in the publication of a number of resources including a newsletter, “l’e-essentiel”, that presents summaries of studies and new data, “research papers“ that address specific topics (births in reconstituted families, youth culture, etc.) and a scientific journal, “Politiques sociales et familiales” [“Social and Family Policy”] that presents researchers’ work. The organisation also routinely collects statistical data.
Youth Policy watchdogs
In addition, various public and community watchdogs on extra-curricular policy —such as the POLOC – the watchdog on Local Education Policy and Educational Success (Observatoire des politiques locales d'éducation et de la réussite éducative) and the OVLEJ – the watchdog on Holidays and Leisure for Children and Young People (Observatoire des Vacances et des Loisirs des enfants et des jeunes) — help to analyse the impact of youth work, both on young people and on community development (municipalities (communes)).
The POLOC - the watchdog on Local Education Policy and Educational Success (Observatoire des politiques locales d'éducation et de la réussite éducative)
The IFÉ – French Institute of Education (Institut français de l'Éducation) and the Triangle research unit at the Higher Education and Research Institute (École Normale Supérieure) in Lyon were responsible for setting up the POLOC watchdog, which specialises in the study of regional educational policies. This watchdog is “a centre for resources, exchange and the analysis of regional public policies and schemes for equality in schools and education”. It is based on a partnership between the Ministry of National Education, communities and community associations, non-formal education federations and professional associations. One of the subjects being studied by the POLOC is “educational complementarity”, in other words the relationship between Youth Work schemes and formal education policies.
The OVLEJ – the watchdog on Holidays and Leisure for Children and Young People (Observatoire des Vacances et des Loisirs des enfants et des jeunes)
The OVLEJ – the watchdog on Holidays and Leisure for Children and Young People (Observatoire des Vacances et des Loisirs des enfants et des jeunes) is an association created by the main voluntary sector organisations involved in the field of holidays and group leisure activities. It currently includes the JPA – Youth Outdoors (Jeunesse au Plein Air) and the UNAT - National Union of Outdoor Tourism (Union Nationale des Associations de Tourisme plein air). Every other year, the OVLEJ produces a national study and a barometer of “public expectations regarding leisure centres and summer camps (colonies de vacances)”.
The OVLEJ is tasked with carrying out qualitative and quantitative studies on topics which include:
– children and young people’s leisure time practices and issues
– the impact of public policy.
It is difficult to measure how much this research into activities actually influences the development of youth policy, particularly at a national level. At a local level (municipalities (communes)), assessments of educational projects (projets éducatifs) and pedagogical projects (projets pédagogiques) (see Quality Assurance) aim to measure the difference between setting targets (pedagogic) and taking action, and should help to improve youth policies introduced by local and regional authorities.
At a national level, young people are not automatically involved in policy-making relating to “Youth Work”.
Taking part in discussions on Youth Policy
However in 2018, the Council, which answers to the HCFEA - High Council for the Family, Childhood and Age (Haut Conseil de la Famille de l’Enfance et de l’Âge) (see Glossary) and consists of a panel of twelve children and teenagers, has recommended various measures regarding extra-curricular and out-of-school activities in a report entitled The third times and places of children and teenagers outside home and school (Les temps et les lieux tiers des enfants et des adolescents hors maison et hors scolarité).
A number of the Children’s Council’s measures recommend reducing inequalities regarding access to activities outside of school hours. These measures focus on 5 priorities:
- “Including children with disabilities and long-term illnesses”,
- “Removing the financial obstacles that prevent children from the poorest families from taking part in the Wednesday Plan (plan mercredi) and extra-curricular and out-of-school activities in general”,
- “Holidays: reducing social inequalities and fostering social diversity”,
- “Reducing regional inequalities”,
- “Reducing the segregation experienced by learners”.
Organisations that involve young people
In addition, children and young people from the local area may take part in the development (by local and regional authorities and/or associations) of educational projects (projets éducatifs) for Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs); this decision is left to the organisers of individual Community Centres for Minors (accueils collectifs de mineurs).
Local and regional authorities (municipalities (communes)) may set up “Youth Spaces” (“Espaces Jeunes”) consisting of facilities and “outreach” centres where educational leisure time, workshops (multimedia, for example), educational support sessions, and artistic and cultural activities are provided and coordinated by youth workers. The activities on offer at “Espaces jeunes” may also be chosen by the young people who use these spaces. Youth spaces may also be used as “youth information” centres, forming part of the youth information network introduced by the Ministry for Youth.
In Paris, for example, the 12 Espaces Paris Jeunes are local spaces which provide free activities and services for young people. The teams of youth workers at the Espaces Paris Jeunes are tasked with:
- “Catering for young people in an informal way”;
- “Co-building and supporting youth projects”;
- “Suggesting activities”;
- “Informing and guiding young people”,
The use of new digital technologies leads to many discussions and a revival in the use of socio-educational facilitation by associations and institutions involved in youth work. Their interest in digital “youth work” is reflected in their creation of digital tools for young people and professionals, their creation of centres and facilities, and their production of a number of resources (booklets, articles, information sheets, etc.) on the use of digital technology in facilitation. It is difficult to identify all the initiatives submitted by associations and non-formal education movements and by local and regional authorities, since there are so many of them.
For further information, see 6.8 Media education and the correct use of new media.
At a national level, the State has led various initiatives. (non-exhaustive list)
The BAFA/ BAFD app
The Ministry of Youth has created an internet portal linked to a mobile app to make it easier to sign up for the BAFA/ BAFD training and non-professional qualifications for facilitators.
The BAFA-BAFD app is part of a move to simplify administrative procedures. It allows people to manage all the procedures relating to these qualifications including:
- Enrolling and tracking their progress on the BAFA and/or BAFD training course online;
- For students who have passed the BAFA qualification, enrolling for additional qualifications (sailing, canoeing/kayaking, leisure activities, etc.);
- For students who have passed the BAFD qualification, renewing their licence;
- Renewing their BAFA “Lifeguard” qualification (every 5 years).
The D-Clics numériques project
Other initiatives provide training in digital technology for young people and facilitators, such as the “D-Clics numériques” digital group project.
This project was set up by the French Education League (la Ligue de l’enseignement) association and seven partners in education including non-formal education associations (Francas, Ceméa, Animafac, Jets d’Encre), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (centre de recherche interdisciplinaire) (Paris-Descartes University) and the National Education research network Canopée. It provides training in digital technology for facilitators and bénévoles (volunteers) and its purpose is “to help create an emerging generation of creative and critical citizens who use digital technology responsibly”.
At the end of the D-clics numériques course, facilitators who have access to the website’s resources should be able to:
- “Assess educational issues associated with digital technology”
- “Create a set of 7 to 12 activity sessions based on one of the courses offered (from creating video games to constructing online radio stations)”
- “Use basic techniques required in the teaching process”
- “Coordinate “ Common Core” discussion sessions with groups of children and young people”
- “Encourage children and young people to make use of content and use their own initiative”
- “Appreciate what children and young people suggest and produce”
- “Offer children and young people innovative and fun activities, and help them acquire the skills needed by citizens of the 21st century”.
Activities offered at the City of Science and Industry (Cité de la Science et de l’Industrie)
Created by decree on 3 December 2009, the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie is an EPIC – Public Industrial and Commercial Institution (établissement public à caractère industriel et commercial), which is jointly supervised by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de l'Innovation) and the Ministry of Culture. As part of its “Digital Crossroads” (“Carrefour numérique”) programme, this institution is offering a number of activities dedicated to the digital sciences, and workshop space dedicated to digital technology with various events related to digital culture and a Fab Lab.
Fab Labs are free, unsupervised, shared design and manufacture workshops; they are open to everyone and are equipped with the appropriate tools: (3D printers, laser cutters, etc.), so that people can complete projects on their own (do-it-yourself) or with others (do it with others). Fab Labs are gradually being developed throughout France, usually through the joint efforts of associations and local and regional authorities.