Belfast Telegraph

O’Dowd launches new policy for youth services

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Education

A new policy for the future delivery of youth services within the education sector has been launched today by Education Minister, John O’Dowd.

‘Priorities for Youth: Improving young people’s lives through youth work’ has been developed following consultation with key stakeholders, including young people and youth sector workers, with the aim of providing a clear policy remit for youth work within education.

Welcoming the new policy, the Minister said: “The needs of young people must be at the heart of all education policy. I recognise very clearly the contribution that the youth service can make to the overall development of young people, particularly those who will benefit most from the services and provisions available. 

“The new ‘Priorities for Youth’ policy will to help develop this important area of work by giving a clear focus for youth workers and managers. It will also ensure more strategic planning of youth service provision in a way that complement and supports current educational priorities.” 

The Minister continued: “Since devolution, the level of funding allocated for the running of frontline youth services has increased from £25million per annum to its current level of £33million per annum. In particular, there has been increased funding allocated to support youth services for young people living in disadvantaged areas and those who have faced a combination of barriers to learning. My Department has also provided funding to support opportunities for learning through the medium of Irish in the youth sector.

“Priorities for Youth will enable the youth service to make a significant contribution to improving educational and lifelong learning opportunities. It will do this through the voluntary engagement of children and young people in non-formal learning opportunities and experiences which complement the formal education approach.” 

The Minister continued: “A key priority is to continue to address the impact of disadvantage and the barriers to learning some of our young people face. Support and resources will be targeted at those in areas of greatest need.

“Priorities for Youth places a greater emphasis on the needs of disadvantaged children and young people, as well as those for whom youth work can provide a valuable link with formal education to increase their life chances in areas such as future employment and training opportunities. More structured planning of youth services will ensure that whilst the needs of specific groups of young people will be taken into account, generic youth provision will continue to be supported in line with assessment of need. This process will involve a range of stakeholders working together across the voluntary and statutory sectors.”

In conclusion the Minister said: “I want to thank all those who were involved in developing this new policy, particularly the many young people who took time to respond to the consultation. ‘Priorities for Youth’ includes a number of actions to strengthen young people’s participation. It seeks to ensure that young people from a variety of backgrounds are enabled and supported to participate in all levels of youth service planning and delivery.

“The personal commitment of youth workers in both the statutory and voluntary youth sectors has impacted positively on the lives of many thousands of young people over the years. ‘Priorities for Youth’ provides an impetus for continued improvement across the youth sector with the aim of helping improve young people’s lives. It will do this by enhancing the planning, delivery and performance of youth work to benefit the young people involved. Working in partnership with both the statutory and voluntary youth sectors will be essential during the transition to the new approach.”

Notes to editors:

1. Consultation on Priorities for Youth was held between 17 September and 10 December 2012

2. Priorities for Youth and a summary of consultation responses are available on the DE website:

3. The Department of Education’s ‘Education Works’ campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved
Because Education Works’. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life
chances. Visit for more information.

Watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel:

4. View photos from the Department of Education in our collection at

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