featured articles: informal education, lifelong learning and social action

 youth work and youth ministry

social education

 group work, secularization and professionalization
history and development menu


The outward form of the youth work undertaken by most churches changed little in the thirty or so years up until well into the 1970s. However, there were changes in approach. We explore the impact of  professionalization and ‘secularization’ of in the wider youth work field upon what was happening in church youth groups and in Christian agencies. We also review some important innovations in practice, especially in the areas of project, detached and evangelical work, and the growing focus on social education and group work.

social education

While the idea of social education had been around since the mid 1800s, it became a key organizing idea for UK youth workers in the late 1960s - and was adopted by many Christian workers.

Social education - the evolution of an idea. What is social education and how has it evolved as a practice and as a theory? We explore the emergence of social pedagogy and the different strands of thinking that developed in Britain and the USA. See, also, beyond social education.

social groupwork

Attention to the functioning of groups was a defining feature of youth work since its inception. However, the development of thinking about groups and group work (especially in north America) social groupwork increasingly made its presence felt within the work - and became a key way of separating youth work from other forms. Within UK Christian youth work Fred Milson was, arguably, the most important advocate of groupwork (and we review his contribution here). We also reproduce an important, earlier, discussion of group work with young people from the North American settlement movement.

Fred Milson: developing the practice of youth and community work. Fred Milson was an influential writer and trainer who did much to develop youth work practice within the Methodist church and the Youth Service generally. He was also an important contributor to national policy debates. Here we assess his contribution.

the rise of the professional and state intervention

In the 1960s, following the implementation of the Albemarle Report there was both a marked increase in the number of full- and part-time youth workers, and a growing emphasis upon their training. Linked to this was a growing marginalization of the volunteer. There was also a significant shift toward the state direction and provision of youth work.

The Albemarle Report and the development of youth work in England and Wales. The Albemarle Report (1960) is commonly viewed as a watershed in the history of youth work - and is associated with the expansion and professionalization of youth work in the 1960s and 1970s. Here we provide some background to the report and explore its influence.

further reading

For an overview of the Christian youth work literature go to our guide to reading. There is also a guide to reading for general youth work history.

Davies, B. (1999) From Voluntaryism to Welfare State. A history of the Youth Service in England. Volume 1: 1939 - 1979, and From Thatcherism to New Labour. A history of the Youth Service in England. Volume 2: 1979 - 1999: Leicester: Youth Work Press. A useful review and analysis of the development (and decline) of the youth service with a focus on central organizational change and policy shifts. Good on the national reports etc. and policy shifts but does not bring out the changing shape of practice and the movements at the local level.


[Return to history and development menu]