evaluates a project that I carried out whilst working with St Gabriel’s
the reader to gain an understanding of the practice and the project, we
shall revisit the practice plans, paying particular attention to the
organisation in terms of its purpose and its behaviour, and my own project
– in terms of its intention and aims.
this, I have undertaken an evaluation of the work that went on, making
links to appropriate theory.
Gabriel’s Community Centre: The Organisation and Its Culture
presenting an introduction and overview of St Gabriel’s Community
Centre, it is important that I approach three different dimensions:
aims and objectives of the agency;
form of agency it is, in relation to community work models and;
and behaviour of the organisation.
Aims and Objectives
Gabriel’s Community Centre is a voluntary, independent community project
that aims (broadly) to ‘serve the community needs’. It is a registered
charity and limited company, with a management committee.
are many different services within the centre, including: a youth project
with two evening sessions; fitness clubs; after-school learning clubs;
interest groups, such as cookery classes and bowls; and health promotion
related services, such as pregnancy testing and advice/information. This
list is certainly not exhaustive of the services, but helps frame the very
diverse provision. Funding is equally diverse, gauged from sources such as
small charities and funds, the local authority and major charities or
funds such as The National Lottery.
St Gabriel’s is constantly reviewing and evaluating the need for its
services. In 2001, the centre became involved in research in the local
area and is part of a multi-disciplinary team examining existing provision
and making recommendations for improvement.
Gabriel’s Young People’s Project (the focus of my placement) is based
at the centre, and offers two evening sessions, together with an advice
and information service for young people. Again, the funding for this
youth work comes from a variety of sources. Major funders, however, are
the city council’s local education authority (for the part time youth
work team) and the Neighbourhood Support Fund (for the full time youth
worker, and the advice/information project costs). The Project is quite
clear about its purpose; essentially they see informal education and
leisure as a route to supporting young people. This ‘support’ ranges
from assisting in education and training decisions to providing
information and advice on a range of personal, health and social issues.
The vehicle for delivering these aims is the youth club, individual
sessions as well as specialist groupwork.
the Organisation’s Purpose
feel it is important to locate the community centre, and the young
people’s project within some theoretical framework. It we take
Popple’s (1995) overview of different community work models, we find
that St Gabriel’s is concerned with both:
Development in that it
aligns and attempts to bring the concept of education closer to the
Planning in that it analyses social conditions, sets goals and
delivers services and programmes.
locating it within these two contexts, we can also begin to identify the
roles and responsibilities of those working at the centre. Popple suggests
that the roles here would be associated with that of the neighbourhood
worker or the enabler/facilitator. This is certainly true – as the
essence of the project in that staff are responsive to the local needs,
and act upon them, whilst encouraging participation.
Young People’s Project clearly aligns itself with youth work values,
promoting informal education as a tool for increasing participation –
and ultimately democracy (Jeffs and Smith 1999a) as well as workers who
encourage young people to think about their lives and the world around
them (Young 1999a). Additionally, in light of the resources that come from
the Neighbourhood Support Fund, it could be argued that they operate a
quasi-welfare support service aiming to boost young people’s attendance
there a conflict here? Certainly. On the one hand, the open nature of
dialogue with young people and working on the basis of voluntary
engagement has to be balanced with the ‘targeted results’ orientation
of the Neighbourhood Support Fund. However, funds are hard to come by and
sometimes painting a negative picture of young people (even pandering to
moral panics) is the only way to secure resources (Jeffs and Smith 1999b).
This, of course, is a discussion for another time, but gives some
introduction to how possible ethical conflicts may occur.
Behaviour and Culture
discussing culture and behaviour, I find it useful to look at human beings
within organisations – particularly with regard to motivation. Weber and
other theorists approach bureaucracy and organisation with mechanical
rigour; it is useful sometimes to see a more human side.
start with the assumption that participation encourages motivation. This
theory of organisational behaviour, accordingly which can be attributed to
management style, is found within St Gabriel’s as a whole, and
particularly within the youth work project. Youth work planning and
practice is very much a team-approach with a relative degree of
professional autonomy matched with organisational procedures and guidance.
Elton Mayo (labelled the ‘father of human relations movement’) was the
first to recognise that ‘people are a very special resource’ (Coulshed
1990 36-37). Expanding on that idea, he recognised that the informal
structures affect the way that people behave. Balance between diversity of
employee’s experience and accountability, therefore, is the key to good
the most relevant motivational theory to explore here is McGregor’s
‘Theory X and Theory Y’. These propose that there are two distinct
views of human beings, ‘X’ being negative and ‘Y’ being
essentially positive (Robbins 1989). ‘Theory X’ holds that managers
assume that employees dislike work, are work shy and display little
ambition. On the other hand, ‘Theory Y’s’ principles take the view
can view work as being as natural as rest or play
will exercise self-direction and self-control if they are committed to
average person can learn to accept, even seek, responsibility.
ability to make innovative decisions is widely dispersed throughout
the population and is not necessarily the sole province of those in
Mayo and McGregor provide insight into how important both culture and
management style is to employees’ satisfaction and contribution. Youth
work is often referred to as a vocation or calling rather than a job. This
idea, combined with the notion that youth work is a profession,
seems to cement the point. Naturally then, a culture must promote the
validity of the youth worker as a professional. This is something I feel
is present in the environment at St Gabriel’s.
Plan: Training for Youth Workers
and time limitations prevent me from exploring all of the work that I was
involved in during my placement. For these reasons, I will focus on one
major element of my work – that of the training, supervision and
development of the part time youth work team.
to the theme of participatory decision-making touched on in my analysis of
the organisation, one significant element of my work that I wanted to
develop was the planning and evaluation of youth work practice at St
Gabriel’s. Furthermore, I wanted to provide the best possible support to
two new youth workers, both voluntary and both considering ‘career youth
Overview of the Proposed
part of my field practice commitment, I produced a NAOMIE planning model
in the very early stages on my practice placement with St Gabriel’s.
Figure 1 is an extract that outlines the intended training and support
Fig 1 –
Extract from FP2 NAOMIE planning model
Youth Work Training Project’
provide support, supervision and training for voluntary part time
to have portfolio of work they have been involved in.
planning/evaluation meetings will take place.
will regularly record their work and reflect upon practice.
will have a clear idea of the principles, values and practice of
to supervise workers.
to record work in a ‘diary’.
to access resources as and when developing new work.
and Jason to attend DMU to sit in on lecture.
– through supervision.
levels of workers.
focus of this training project was to encourage the youth work team to
consider and question professional youth work practice, whilst aiming to
enable workers to build upon their experience.
plans seem to fit within the theoretical framework proposed by Smith, when
he discusses the principles that form the ‘direction’ of practice.
These are summarised herein with additional commentary by myself:
up new experiences and new opportunities by
enabling workers to examine their present practice, future practice
and their own development needs;
mutual respect and fairness by examining how youth work practice
can be a liberating tool for challenging oppression and asking the
question ‘is it fair’ to be this, or that?
in the sense of striving for a holistic approach to practice, with
workers open to suggestion and development
a sense of community by examining notions of community and the
importance of developing interpersonal relationships and;
action and mutual aid enabling workers to see their important role
from Smith 1994:65-66)
for this project ultimately rested at my door, and continuous recordings
and supervision enabled me to take a second look at my approaches.
the Process: A Critical Evaluation
importance of evaluation in informal education is grounded in literature,
policy and practice. Workers are encouraged to monitor and evaluate work
in a part-time capacity, and produce professional recordings in full time
can be defined by some key characteristics. It is a process that:
how youth work ‘works’ (France 2001);
part of reflective practice and personal development, either in
returning to experience and thinking about feelings and decisions
(Jeffs and Smith 1999a) or as an ongoing process when we
influence the practice of others through indirect or direct policy
changes (Eraut 1994)
is a critical tool and one that should be utilised to enhance practice.
Therefore, in this section of the paper, I wish to present a critical
analysis of the project that I have undertaken. In order to be as thorough
as possible, I shall attempt to explore each element of my work, as
opposed to simply evaluating the outcomes of the work (See figure 2).
This, I feel, gives a broader picture of my learning and grounding for
future practice, but also encompasses the key characteristics listed
2 – Evaluating the Process
Assessment and Planning
Practice placements are, in my view, a positive, vital experience for
students undertaking youth work training. However, in their format, they
can produce a critical urgency in approaching assessment and planning.
Coulshed identifies the difficulties of planning too far in advance and
questions the notions of ‘needs assessments’ when very new to a job
(1990:52). Her assertion, and
I am inclined to agree, is that a longer time spent surveying the
community and being mindful of ‘fits and starts’ in both needs and
resources, allows more flexibility. However, time is but a precious
commodity and this should be realised in planning work, especially for a
are several factors to consider when discussing the assessment of
‘needs’. In this case, it is important to consider the notion of whose
needs I attempted to assess and respond to. Firstly, there are my own
learning needs as a student – the criteria I have to satisfy and the
experiences I need to undertake in order to widen my practice repertoire.
Secondly, there are the needs of those who I intend to work with, and
essentially how I perceive these needs. Finally, there are the needs of
the organisation to consider. With questions about resource implications
and organisational development needs, one must consider how proposed work
with either hinder or contribute to the agency and service provision.
time hindered consultation, in thinking about what supervision and
training needs the part time youth work team needed, conference with
organisation and the workers themselves was not just desirable – but
and Outcomes: Technical and Social Perspectives in Learning
wish now to turn attention to both the delivery of my project and how well
I think that the outcomes were met. To do this, I wish to draw upon two
models of organizational learning, the ‘technical’ and ‘social’
Technical view of organisational learning is best described as:
effective processing, interpretation of, and response to, information both
inside and outside the organisation.”
& Araujo 1999:3)
the social perspective suggests that:
is something that emerges from social interactions [it
is] socially constructed…implicated in the culture of an
my opinion, these two processes are not exclusive, and enable me to
analyse my interventions appropriately. Considering ‘technical’ as
perhaps an ‘information giving’ training instrument and ‘social’
as a facilitative training instrument, I present a model to assess how I
met the planned learning outcomes. The first column suggests the outcome
anticipated in the planning phase of the project, whilst the remaining
columns provide an overview of how I met the outcomes.
3 – Evaluation of Outcomes Using Technical and Social Models of Learning
did I achieve this?
to have a portfolio of work they have been involved in
of a new induction process and pack, including organisation
information and job description.
of planning aids, such as the NAOMIE and APIE models.
in developing new projects.
contributions to existing projects.
planning/evaluation meetings to take place
of a ‘feedback’ book that records team feelings and reflections
of group feedback meetings, and the encouragement of rotating who
chairs this discussion.
will regularly record their work and reflect upon practice
of Journals to record feelings and interventions.
session that looked at how to monitor work using existing ‘Data
focusing on ‘experiential learning’ and ‘reflective
and discussion around feelings, inviting links with social issues
and affairs and affecting change in practice methodology.
critical feedback and suggestions for service improvements.
will have a clear idea of the principles, values and practice of
resources on youth work and informal education.
of induction pack.
attendance at DMU and training day at St Gabriel’s.
reason for using these models is twofold. Firstly, applying them has
enabled me to match the originally planned outcomes with direct, practical
interventions using appropriate methods. Secondly, makes links between
guidance (information giving) and developing professional autonomy
I wish to explore the issue of ‘power’ in this teaching and learning
experience. It is not tackled last for lack of importance, but rather
serves as a useful way to bring the points together when we have discussed
‘values’ and participation in this essay.
Kerry Young (1999b) discusses empowerment, she is quite clear that
structures and systems that promote the idea do not necessarily create its
substance. Indeed, it is her assertion that:
real powerhouse of empowerment lies…in the individual’s ability to
transcend the internalised lies, myths and misinformation which keeps us
corralled in our own sense of powerlessness…”
This is achieved through a
participation process that is voluntary and based on informed consent. The
role of ‘trainer’ and ‘learner’ in its most basic sense has
implications for ‘empowerment’ and ‘participation’. The power
balance is immediately shifted.
Importantly, if we are training in
the business of fostering democracy (Jeffs and Smith 1999), critical
analysis of values and beliefs (Young 1999), then an open approach, and
one that fosters as much participation as possible is essential.
This essay explored the planning,
delivery and evaluation of a training programme for part time youth
workers. This project formed part of a wider field practice programme.
In the first part, I introduced the
organisation, and the planning of the project using a NAOMIE.
In the second part, I attempted to
examine the actual implementation of the project.
In the latter part of the essay, I
provided notes on the evaluation of this project, paying attention to
different learning styles.
conclusive comment serves as a recommendation for St Gabriel’s. The
training and development of staff members is an important function. The
organizational culture at the agency is undoubtedly positive. However,
future searches for funding new youth work should be matched by funding
training and development – ensuring a commitment to personal growth and
© Jason J
Wood & Student Youth Work Online 1999-2002