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.
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.
The educational project: "is designed as a contract of trust between the educational team, the facilitators, the parents and the minors on the operating conditions. It serves as a reference throughout the programme. It helps to give meaning to the activities on offer and to everyday activities. It helps to develop the educational approach. It identifies the organiser's concerns".
According to the article R227-25 of the Family and social action cide, 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.
See chapter 2 « Volunteering. 2.6. Quality assurance system ».
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
Youth work steering committee
The youth work steering committee, created in 2022 following the plan for the A renew approach to youth work in groups of minors (see Intersectorial cooperation), helds several work groups. It aims to reflect and produce data, through, in particular, the creation of a youth work field observatory. This observatory aims to give a response to the lack of data observed since the Covid-19 pandemic, especially on the various youth work legal statuses and the category of people involved.
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”.
For its work programme 2022-2023, the INJEP planned to produce up-to-date surveys and data regarding “the activities of teenagers outside of schools and activities in resource centers and holiday camps”.
The CNAF - 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).
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.
Youth Policy observation bodies
In addition, various public and community observation bodies 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 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
In February 2022, France launched an action plan to tackle the difficulties encountered in the youth work sector: recruitment difficulties for local authorities, a significant drop in the number of applicants for diplomas allowing non-professionals to work in youth work on an occasional basis, cancellation of holidays/camps due to a shortage of youth workers, etc.
The result of consultations with all the players in the sector (associations of elected representatives, popular education associations, the Youth and Non-formal Education Cooperation Fund -Fonds de coopération de la jeunesse et de l'éducation populaire, professionals, etc.) is this plan for a renewed approach to youth work in collective childcare centres. It comprises 25 measures, the financing of which represents an effort of 64 million euros for the State. The aim is to improve the conditions under which youth work is carried out for those who benefit from it - children and families - and for those who make it their profession or work in it on an occasional basis - the youth workers. It includes:
- 53 million euros for local authorities to improve access to extracurricular activities (Plan mercredi);
- 5 million to train 30,000 young people in BAFA, including 10,000 civic service volunteers. This diploma enables holders to provide occasional supervision at camps;
- 4 million euros to train 2,500 unqualified professional activity leaders.
The implementation of these measures is steered by a dedicated body, known as the industry committee, which involves all the stakeholders and which issued its first report in February 2023 - See Cross-sector cooperation.
In addition, France has initiated work on careers in the "youth, popular education and community life" sector of the civil service. As part of this work, a 'lab' for youth, popular education and community life is being set up. Its aim is to understand professional practices in this sector and how they will evolve over the next ten years. It has three main areas of activity:
- Following the local actors working in the youth, sports and volunteering sectors by creating spaces for meeting and sharing as well as networking on skills ;
- Create a training path at all ages for public servants in the sector of « youth and engagement » ;
- Reinforce the national and local coordination of the « youth and engagement” sector.
Organisations that involve young people
Youth participation initiatives at a local level usually bring to work on subjects affecting this public, including youth work.
The national network for children and youth participation (réseau national de la participation enfance jeunesse -Anacej)
The Anacej network, which brings together 19 youth and popular education federations and associations, supports local authorities and non-formal education associations in setting up initiatives to involve young people in civic life.
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.
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.
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).
Reinforcing the use of digital tools as part of the Plan for a Renewed Approach to Youth Work in Collective Childcare Centres
As part of the Plan for a Renewed Approach to Youth Work, presented in February 2022, an initiative has been launched to modernise training for youth workers. This will involve promoting the digital platform and the BAFA-BAFD application, a digital communication campaign and a review of the use of digital technology in the sector.