Personal advisers delivering the government’s Connexions
strategy should have defined caseloads, new research shows.
A report by schools inspectorate Ofsted on the second round of
New Start partnerships finds that individuals carrying out personal
adviser work are able to sustain case loads of no more than 15 or
20 referrals at any one time.
The Connexions strategy, which began a three-year national
roll-out programme across England at the beginning of April, is
based on the premise that all 13 to 19-year-olds will be allocated
a personal adviser to provide career, education and personal advice
and a link to other services.
New Start partnerships, launched in 1998, aim to get young
people aged 14 to 17 who have disengaged from mainstream education
back into education and training and are therefore considered to
provide “a valuable source of experience and expertise for the
Connexions service to draw on”. Staff for the New Start
partnerships have been drawn from a broad range of backgrounds
including social workers, trainers, teachers, youth workers and
Other lessons from the New Start partnerships report include the
need to set out performance criteria and clear national standards
for the scope and quality of Connexions services, plus a need to
define ways of monitoring students’ progress and achievements,
particularly in relation to aspects of personal development.
Personal advisers will also need to develop exit strategies for
their clients, and develop systematic procedures for recording
privileged and confidential information, as well as protocols for
Procedures and protocols to define the working practices
required to underpin multi-agency working will also need to be
“The importance of multi-agency working to the success of this
work needs to be spelt out more clearly by those developing the
Connexions service,” the report says.
“Organisations need to work together but also need to have
clearly-defined roles. The relationships between Connexions service
staff, school management teams and teachers need to be given
The report also highlights the “inherent risks” to personal
advisers of working alone to sustain contacts with young people in
non-traditional contexts and calls for workers to receive “proper
training in this style of work and careful supervision”.
– New Start Partnerships 1999-2000: Learning To Connect