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Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many representatives from local business are members of management boards for each of the Connexions partnerships. [110197]

The current position is:

15 of the 47 partnerships had two or more employer representatives
26 of the 47 partnerships had one employer representative
6 of the 47 partnerships had no employer representative

TO ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received from (a) teachers and (b) organisations representing teachers on the work of Connexions. [109721]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: While the Secretary of State receives a number of representations from teachers and organisations representing teachers these are not collated in any particular form.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how he monitors the success of Connexions in meeting service targets and objectives; and if he will make a statement of Connexions' success in meeting those targets and objectives to date. [109722]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: The Connexions Service National Unit (CSNU) has put in place a performance management framework to monitor the success of Connexions in meeting targets and objectives. Key elements of this are:

  • (a) management information, collected by Connexions Partnerships and other agencies dealing with young people;
  • (b) quarterly reviews of performance between Connexions Partnerships and Government Offices;
  • (c) local and national evaluation to provide both quantitative and qualitative information on the impact of the Service at national and local level;
  • (d) Inspections of Connexions Partnerships by Ofsted. Full inspections began in September 2002, and it is expected that Partnerships will be inspected on a four yearly cycle.
  • Priority to date has been to establish Connexions across the whole of EnglandThis has now been achieved, with nearly 9000 Personal Advisers and front line delivery staff in post at the end of February 2003. Increasing numbers of young people are being helped by Connexions, and partner agencies are reported to be working more closely together. Ofsted findings are being analysed nationally to inform future planning at national and local level. Evidence from the first wave of evaluation at national level should be available from summer 2003.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how the Connexions service is marketed; what the total expenditure on marketing the Connexions service has been to date; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the marketing of Connexions. [109723]

    [holding answer 28 April 2003]: The Connexions Service is marketed primarily at local level through the 47 Connexions Partnerships. This is for two reasons—the local nature of the delivery of the Service and the incremental roll out of the Service, which meant that it was not available nationally until April 2003. (The first partnerships went live in April 2001 and the last in April 2003.)The Connexions Service National Unit has supported that local activity with two bursts of nationally funded marketing in areas where Connexions was live, using media that could be bought regionally. The marketing focused on raising awareness of the Service's existence among young people. The bursts were:

    February to March 2002 (advertising on radio and outdoor poster sites)
    November 2002—January 2003 (advertising at local cinemas, on local radio stations and on outdoor poster sites)

    Other marketing activity has been focused on communicating with stakeholders, practitioners and the wider public via specialist, sector arid regional press.

    At a national level, the total expenditure on the above nationally funded marketing to date has been £3,446,898.21.

    Individual partnerships receive grant funding from the Department to provide services for young people. Part of that grant is spent on marketing. The National Unit does not require partnerships to provide information on spend to the level of detail that would allow a meaningful figure to be provided for the total expenditure for all partnerships to date.

    The effectiveness of Connexions' national marketing is evaluated in two ways tracking research conducted pre and post advertising activity and quarterly media evaluation to assess the effectiveness of our media activity and penetration across our target audiences.

    Tracking research was conducted for both bursts of advertising to assess its effectiveness by monitoring levels of awareness of Connexions among 13–19 year olds. Following the February to March advertising campaign, awareness of Connexions among young people rose from 27 per cent. to 36 per cent. Pre-advertising research also showed that 32 per cent. of young people didn't know what Connexions was—this figure fell to 19 per cent. following the advertising.

    Research conducted before the second burst of advertising in November 2002 recorded awareness levels of 35 per cent.. Following the advertising this figure increased to 51%. Young people also reported that their use of the Service during the period of the advertising rose from 9 per cent. to 16 per cent.

    Separate ongoing evaluation of media coverage for the Connexions Service is also conducted. The latest report (to the end of January 2003) shows that reach among adults in England is at 39 per cent. with 100 per cent. of articles appearing in the last quarter as strongly or slightly favourable.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many clients of the Connexions service are aged (a) 13, (b) 14, (c) 15, (d) 16, (e) 17, (f) 18, (g) 19 and (h) over 19; and what percentage of the total number of clients this represents in each case. [109724]

    [holding answer 28 April 2003]: Information in the following table has been taken from data supplied by the 46 operational Connexions Partnerships at the end of February 2003.Information on young people who are of compulsory education age is collected by school year group, rather than the age of the individual, this data is not currently available by each year group but only as a total of all those in years 8 to 11. Information on those who have completed compulsory education is collected by the age of the individual.

    EnglandProportion (percentage)
    Young people of compulsory education age
    Years 8–1 12,083,12349.2
    Young people who have completed compulsory education

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what involvement young people have had in the design and delivery of services provided by Connexions; and through what mechanisms this involvement has occurred. [109730]

    One of the key principles of Connexions is that Partnerships will listen to, and take account of, the views of young people in the design, delivery and evaluation of the service. In the first operational year over 18,000 young people were involved in shaping the service through local activity and at a national level. All Partnerships employ at least one person with responsibility for youth participation and they support youth forums and other activities.Connexions has involved young people in a variety of ways. Young people from all backgrounds and ages have been involved. They have undertaken specific roles, ranging from consultation to peer research.Young people have played a key role in the selection of Partnership staff up to and including Chief Executives.Young people have also helped to develop guidance for Connexions Partnerships on such subjects as involving young people in the governance of Connexions Partnerships, developing Connexions Youth Charters and involving 'hard to reach' young people.Their feedback has directly influenced policies and procedures. Over 200 one stop shops have been established as a result of young people's views.

    The achievements of Connexions in actively involving young people were recognised in December 2002 by being awarded runner up status in the Young People's category of the Institute of Public Policy Research/Guardian Public Involvement Awards.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what strategy the Connexions service has to enhance the effectiveness of voluntary organisations working with young people. [109732]

    In October 2002, the Connexions Service National Unit published its "Strategy for Engaging the Voluntary and Community Sector in Connexions". That strategy includes many actions which will enhance the effectiveness of voluntary organisations working with young people. Examples include the creation of "VCS Liaison Officer" type posts to encourage the participation of smaller organisations and to provide information and support; VCS representation on Connexions Boards and other local fora; establishment of a Good Practice Database; development of a set of clear goals and performance indicators for Connexions Partnerships working with the VCS and newsletter and electronic mailing.Connexions Partnerships will decide how to implement the strategy locally, including any grant awards for capacity building.In addition the Department for Education and Skills' National Voluntary Youth Organisation (NVYO) Grant Scheme is the only source of direct Government support for the voluntary youth sector. The current cycle of grants to the headquarters of 90 NVYOs supports a total of 98 projects.DfES has also made allocations from the "Transforming Youth Work Development Fund" to the NVYOs. £2 million was allocated in 2002–03 and £1 million in 2003–04.A further aspect of the DfES' strategy is the Neighbourhood Support Fund (NSF). The NSF supports local (and often small) voluntary and community organisations to provide innovative projects, and aims to create and develop local capacity to address the issues associated with the hardest to reach young people. There are currently around 650 NSF projects within 40 of the most deprived local authority areas with a total budget of £60 million (until September 2003). In the next phase we plan to embed NSF fully into Connexions.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he has taken to encourage the participation of local businesses in the delivery of Connexions. [110193]

    Our guidance to connexions partnerships requires them to involve employers on their Boards. In some cases the independent Chair has a business background. We also encourage the inclusion of local employers on local management committees.A number of Connexions Partnerships manage Education Business Partnership activities, which helps facilitate work experience for year 10 and 11 pupils, enabling employers to directly influence the future career decisions of young people. The Connexions Service also works closely with local employers to help them recruit young people to local vacancies.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what safeguards are in place to ensure confidentiality for young people who share information with Connexions service personal advisers. [110195]

    Connexions Partnerships are required to operate within the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act. Bespoke personal adviser training and guidance to partnerships on the professional conduct of personal advisers and the assessment of young people's needs cover confidentiality. They make it clear that personal advisers should work with the informed consent of the young person.