; The Purpose of Youth Work - Youth Work Essentials

Youth work contributes to young peoples’ learning and development. The key purpose of youth work is to:

“Enable young people to develop holistically, working with them to facilitate their personal, social and educational development, to enable them to develop their voice, influence and place in society and to reach their full potential.”

National Occupational Standards for Youth Work 2008

Youth groups, youth workers, leaders and volunteers apply this by:  

  • Building young people’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Developing young people’s ability to manage personal and social relationships.
  • Creating learning opportunities for young people to develop new skills.
  • Encouraging positive group atmospheres.
  • Building the capacity of young people to consider risk, make reasoned decisions and take control.
  • Helping young people to develop a ‘world view’ which widens horizons and invites social commitment.

Where does youth work take place?

Effective youth work takes place in a wide range of settings: youth clubs, uniformed and voluntary youth organisations, youth counselling units, outreach and detached projects, youth cafes, youth arts groups, youth action and participation groups, drug and alcohol projects and other health education groups.

What are the values and principles of youth work?

Young people choose to participate

The young person chooses to be involved, not least because they want to relax, meet friends and have fun.

Youth work must build from where young people are

Youth work operates on young people’s own personal and recreational territory – within both their geographic and interest communities.

Youth work recognises the young person and the youth worker as partners in a learning process

The young person is recognised as an active partner who can, and should, have opportunities and resources to shape their lives.

Curriculum for Excellence

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) supports young people as they learn how to be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.  

CfE supports the idea that learning and achievement can take place in a variety of formats and settings; not just schools. The Building the Curriculum documents make it clear that all agencies that work with young people have a role to play in CfE.  This includes youth clubs and groups.

There are strong links between the Nature and Purpose of Youth Work and Curriculum for Excellence, particularly with regards to the young person-centred approach and an emphasis on empowerment and health and well-being.  

More information about the links between youth work and Curriculum for Excellence can be found in Youth Scotland’s Quick Guide.

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