College leaders criticise Connexions for failing to provide service for all

Young people are missing out on career and welfare advice due to
Connexions focusing too much on helping those who have dropped out
of the system, it has been claimed.

College leaders said that a funding shortage was causing Connexions
to concentrate on those who are not in education, employment or
training (Neets) at the expense of other young people.

John Tredwell, principal of Worcester Sixth Form College, said that
the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Connexions partnership is to
have its number of adviser posts for non-Neets based in schools and
colleges slashed from 48 to 14.5 in September. The number of
adviser posts for Neets is to increase from 28 to 36.5.

“None of us have any objections to resources being focused on the
marginal young people but it should not be at the expense of

He said that government had stressed that Connexions was a
universal service when, in his view, it was not. “If the government
really has the aim of helping Neets they have to direct new
services to them.”

The issue was debated at the Association of Colleges 16-19 annual
conference last week. A spokesperson for the association said that
the disproportionate allocation of resources to Neets “was a common
problem” among colleges.

But a Connexions spokesperson rejected the claim. “The universal
nature of the service is reflected in the fact that it makes itself
available to young people at all times,” he said. Young people can
find Connexions information via telephone, the internet and text

Meanwhile, research to be published by Luton University finds that
unco-ordinated funding is threatening integrated working between
Connexions and outreach work.

Speaking at a conference at the university last week, professor
John Pitts said that more than 50 per cent of street outreach
projects contacted by researchers – many of which were for “hard to
reach” young people targeted by Connexions – were uncertain of
continued funding because of funds being time-limited and the
variety of funding sources.

In the first 10 months of the research, 22 per cent of the projects
they contacted had stopped all street work and, for a further 8 per
cent, street work was under threat.

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