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the albemarle report: introduction

The Albemarle Report (1960) provided youth work in England and Wales with a very influential rationale and framework - and was a key element in substantially increasing funding for youth work. Here we reproduce the introduction to the report - and a number of key chapters.

other chapters from the report: chapter 1: the youth service yesterday and today; chapter 3: justification and aims of the youth service; chapter 5: activities and facilities; and Chapter 10:  recommendations and priorities

The Committee responsible for this report was chaired by the Countess of Albemarle and was appointed by the Minister of Education in November, 1958. It was given the following terms of reference:

To review the contribution which the Youth Service of England and Wales can make in assisting young people to play their part in the life of the community, in the light of changing social and industrial conditions and of current trends in other branches of the education service; and to advise according to what priorities best value can be obtained for the money spent.

The Committee's report was presented to Parliament in February 1960. For a discussion of the background of the Report and its significance go to: The Albemarle Report and the development of youth work in England and Wales

Other extracts from the Report include: Chapter 1: the youth service yesterday and today; Chapter 3: justification and aims of the youth service, Chapter 5: activities and facilities and Chapter 10: recommendations and priorities.

[page 1]

1.         The Committee was appointed by the Minister of Education in November, 1958. We were given the following terms of reference: “To review the contribution which the Youth Service of England and Wales can make in assisting young people to play their part in the life of the community, in the light of changing social and industrial conditions and of current trends in other branches of the education service; and to advise according to what priorities best value can be obtained for the money spent.”

2.         We were appointed at a most crucial time. First, because several aspects of national life, to which the Youth Service is particularly relevant, are today causing widespread and acute concern. These include serious short-term problems, such as that of the “bulge” in the adolescent population. They include also much more complex and continuous elements of social change, elements to which adolescents are responding sharply and often in ways which adults find puzzling or shocking. Secondly, because it soon became clear to us that the Youth Service itself is in a critical condition. We have been struck by the unanimity of evidence from witnesses (and their views were borne out by our own observations) on these points:

(i)        that the Youth Service is at present in a state of acute depression. All over the country and in every part of the Service there are devoted workers. And in some areas the inspiration of exceptional individuals or organisations, or the encouragement of local education authorities, have kept spirits unusually high. But in general we believe it true to say that those who work in the Service feel themselves neglected and held in small regard, both in educational circles and by public opinion generally. We have been told time and time again that the Youth Service is “dying on its feet” or “out on a limb“. Indeed, it has more than once been suggested to us that the appointment of our own Committee was either “a piece of whitewashing” or an attempt to find grounds for “killing” the Service. These are distressing observations, but we feel they have to be recorded since they indicate accurately the background of feeling among many of those engaged in the Service; they should therefore be fully appreciated at the very beginning of our Report. No Service can do its best work in such an atmosphere;

(ii)       that our witnesses were nevertheless in no way disheartened about the fundamental value of the Service. They gave us the firm impression (and again this was supported by our own observations) that a properly nourished Youth Service is profoundly worth while; and that it is of special importance in a society subject to the kinds of change which we have noted above and which we shall describe later.

3.         We have therefore been meeting in conditions of quite unusual urgency and with a sense of working against time. As a result we have not under­taken any large-scale research projects in what is a very wide field. These [page 2] can be carried out once the main justification and aims of the Service have been established. Many enquiries have indeed already been made, but so far produced little positive action. Again, we hope that our statement of principles and policy will allow these earlier enquiries, and some which are going on at present, to be enlisted in the improvement of a revivified Youth Service.

4.         In short, we have thought of ourselves as a charting committee and have tried, as urgently as is compatible with thoroughness and comprehensive­ness, to tackle the essential questions: to establish the place of the Youth Service in the larger social and educational scene; to chart a desirable course; and to outline those measures (for both the short and the long term) which will best give the whole Service the new heart it so badly needs.

5.         The chapters which follow fall into three main groups.

First, after surveying the history, present scope and limitations of the Service (Chapter 1), we review the changing scene and try to assess the impact on young people of these changes (Chapter 2). We then set out to re-establish the social and individual justification for the Youth Service. Chapter 2, Part II and Chapter 3 contain our fundamental thinking on needs, aims and principles.

Second, we have sought to build upon this foundation the framework for a Youth Service which will be adequate to the needs of young people. We therefore formulate the tasks of the various partners in the Service (Chapter 4), and suggest the opportunities, activities and facilities which need to be provided (Chapter 5).

Third, we examine and emphasise the responsibilities which flow from our re-phrasing of the scope of the Youth Service, and make our specific recommendations (Chapters 6—10).

6.         It will be quickly seen that we believe a considerable expansion is needed in the provision made for the Youth Service. No less will do since, at a time when it should have been receiving exceptional encouragement, the Service has been allowed slowly to lose confidence. Two kinds of measure are therefore needed:

(i)        “blood-transfusions”; that is, short-term measures to meet immediate needs (e.g. the problem of the “bulge “). These may require emergency expenditure;

(ii)       measures for sustained and continuous nourishment.

7.         We propose provision for planned development over two five-year periods under the surveillance of a Development Council. The main emphasis in the first five years would be on (i). We believe all these measures are necessary and urgent. But it is important not to encourage excessive hopes. The “problems of youth” are deeply rooted in the soil of a disturbed modern world. To expect even the best Youth Service to solve these problems would be to regard it as some sort of hastily applied medicament. [page 3]

8.         As we seek to show later, the Youth Service is deeply relevant to the needs and complexities of a modern society enjoying a rising standard of living. But its real achievements are bound to be sometimes difficult to measure statistically, and may only be seen clearly over a long period. This is yet another reason for losing no time in making a proper start.

9.         In the course of our work, we have considered written evidence from 69 bodies and have heard oral evidence from 20 of these (Appendix 1). In addition, a large number of suggestions, sometimes in the form of memo­randa, have been received. We have interviewed several individual people with a free-lance interest in or special knowledge of youth work, and we have consulted many others informally. We have received statistical informa­tion from Government departments and, in reply to a questionnaire of our own, from all 146 local education authorities in England and Wales. The Central Advisory Council for Education (England) has made available to us the results of a survey carried out in 1957 (The survey carried out by the Central Office of Information for the Central Advisory Council. See “15 to 18“, A Report of the Central Advisory Council for Education - England); a section of this survey dealt with the leisure-time interests of young people after leaving school and was based on questions put to a sample of those who had attended maintained schools. We have kept in touch with the Council and with two other bodies which were examining social problems affecting young people— the Ministry of Health’s Working Party on Social Workers in the Local Authority Health and Welfare Services, and the Industrial Training Council which was set up after the publication of the Carr Committee’s Report in 1958 (“Training for Skill—Recruitment and Training of Young Workers in Industry”, Report of a Sub-Committee of the National Joint Advisory Council). We have read reports on the Youth Service written by H.M. Inspectors of Schools, and have received several publications giving information about youth work abroad, particularly in Europe. We are grateful to all those who have helped us in these ways. Individual members of the Committee have visited youth groups at work in various parts of the country; several members were able, during visits abroad for other purposes, to learn something about youth work in the United States of America and four other countries.

10.       We have met on 30 days, of which two were in Cardiff and three constituted a residential week-end conference.

First published as Chapter 1 of Ministry of Education (1960) The Youth Service in England and Wales ('The Albemarle Report'), London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

This piece has been reproduced here by the informal education homepage under licence from from the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland. The informal education homepage holds a licence to reproduce public service information and another to reproduce Parliamentary material.

First placed in the archives: July 2002