Fears that young people’s service Connexions is to be phased out as
children’s trusts come on stream were allayed last week by a senior
Speaking at a conference on Connexions and young people with
disabilities, Steve Jackson, divisional director for Connexions and
the regions at the Department for Education and Skills, said that
press reports on the service’s demise were “greatly
He said that Connexions needed to be “strategically” part of the
new trusts. “The kids value an independent service so it’s going to
stay being that and we can achieve that within a children’s trust,”
Although Jackson said it was “unfair” to say that young people with
disabilities, learning difficulties and/or mental health problems
had fallen off Connexions’ agenda, he accepted that it could
improve its service to these groups.
“We haven’t followed up the idea of champions – somebody on the
[Connexions partnerships] boards who has an overview of raising
these sorts of issues,” he said.
Jackson said that Connexions was now “perhaps in more of a
position” to make the optional training module for personal
advisers in working with young people with disabilities, learning
difficulties and mental health problems compulsory.
Concerns were also raised at the conference about Entry to
Employment, a pre-employment provision catering for young people
who are not ready to enter apprenticeships or other employment.
E2E is meant to help young people gain skills and qualifications
such as NVQ level 1 or 2 working at their own pace. However,
delegates at the conference reported that work-based training
providers, who contract with local learning and skills councils to
run E2E schemes, were not keen to take young people with learning
difficulties on to the programmes.
Jackson said that he was struck by the failure in some parts of the
country of work-based training providers to provide any training at
He added that there was a need for some specific support services
for young people who may not be ready to go on to E2E schemes so
that college was not the only alternative.
“Colleges could become day centres and we don’t want that,” he