Can School / Youth Club combos succeed?


News of the Welsh council to axe youth clubs in the area, in order to save money, I’m sure will be met with horror and apathy for the council and may cause a backlash or petition activity against them. When in reality it may well be the best thing for the young people concerned.

Its easy (as was my first thought) to start damning the Council, however it is possible to see the benefits for bringing the informal play spaces, and the formal education spaces together.

So in an attempt to understand why (other than financial) this idea could work for all parties concerned, I took a moment to consider the reasons why. Here’s my top 5;

1: Instills the notion that school is ‘the’ place for young people
Duplication in anything is not good. Currently school is a place for young people and Youth Clubs are a place for young people. Whilst in the minds of adults, they can identify the need for formal learning and relaxing play – young people wouldn’t agree. Life is life to them – formal or informal. Creating separate spaces, doesn’t give clarity, it creates confusion as to where their ‘place’ actually is in society. Home is home, there is no substitute, School is school, Play is play – Youth Clubs are what? a Home/School/Play hybrid? Cut out the confusion, instill that School is the place for young people inside or outside of the home – be it formal or informal learning and play.

2: Education and play can overlap
How many times have you taken a less0n in school that you ‘wanted’ to continue after the bell had gone? How many times have you learnt or discovered something whilst playing that became applicable in the classroom? Play and Education overlaps. As does formal and informal social interaction. In life there isn’t a ‘cut off’ regarding how and where we interact with each other, so why separate this for young people?

3: More access to facilities
If you’ve ever been inside a Youth Club, you’ll notice that many of the facilities provided are either poor, or duplicates of what is provided at the local schools. However, how many Youth Clubs have access to a library, or a full range of sports facilities, or a lack of space?

4: Not running from problems
Youth Clubs allow young people to get away from their school life stresses. Whilst this is useful, it can also prolong resolution of issues, and forge stronger resentment towards something that has either happened that day, or is ongoing in the young persons life. Having the Youth Club within the Educational building, will keep them in the space to resolve issues there and then.

5: Reinforces teacher / pupil relationships
If you have a great, inspiring teacher, then being able to converse about topics ‘other’ than the current classroom agenda, will build bond the relationship. I’m not assuming that teachers will be working in ‘School Youth Clubs’, but the overlap of time, whereby the teacher is still at work, and the pupil is still on the educational premises, will allow for occasional interaction to occur. Likewise if a pupil doesn’t have a good rap-or with a teacher, this is can be down to communication differences, and/or no knowledge of what the other enjoys doing outside of school hours. E.g.: A struggling pupil of a french teacher, may approach said teacher if they have a common passion for music creation realised in the ‘youth clubs’ music facilities.

OK, these are my thoughts, and I only agree that any of these can work ‘if’ the new version of Youth Clubs are managed correctly inside the school buildings – if not, then they could all potentially fail.

I’d be interested to hear what other people feel about this.

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