Youth Work Outcomes and Skills Framework
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Youth work is an educational practice that contributes to young people’s learning and development. It is an inclusive and empowering approach, underpinned by a unique set of values, ethics and competencies and contributes to Scottish National Outcomes.
The Youth Work Outcomes and Skills Framework is the culmination of years of collaboration with the sector to create a set of practical tools to help youth workers support and measure young people's development.
Previously, the Youth Work Outcomes and Skills Framework existed as two separate resources. We are, however, in the process of unifying the two resources into a single framework to support youth work practice in Scotland. The fully-revised framework will be launched in 2023, but we hope you will find the resources you need in our updated framework below in the meantime.
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Over a number of years, the youth work sector has worked collaboratively to clearly articulate the contribution of youth work in Scotland. The youth work outcomes and the youth work skills framework have proved to be valuable tools in planning and evaluating the work we do, and most importantly in providing a structure for reflective learning conversations with young people on their youth work journey.
During 2022, YouthLink Scotland has worked with the youth work sector to integrate these established tools into a single framework, aiming to make it more straightforward for youth workers to make clear connections between outcomes and skills – and for young people to identify and review meaningful learning goals.
- We’ve made small changes to the language of the national youth work outcomes, based on feedback through the recent consultation process. Perhaps most importantly, outcome 1 is now bigger and broader than previously, articulating youth work’s developing contribution to nurturing health and wellbeing. This reflects insights from a number of recent youth work research studies, and studies that examine the role youth work in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Previously ‘confidence’ and ‘resilience’ were the focus of this outcome. These are not lost, because they still feature prominently as key skills in the integrated framework.
- We’ve created a set of examples to demonstrate the links between outcomes and skills. These are not intended to be prescriptive, but to make it easier for youth work practitioners to show how skills are important building blocks for young people as they make progress towards the outcomes.
- We’ve created a single set of indicators linked to each of the skills. These are expressed as ‘I can’ statements and we’ve tried to keep the wording of these as direct and user-friendly as possible. We’ve worked hard on these collectively, and had some animated conversations about what to leave in and what to leave out, but we recognise that they are neither perfect nor exhaustive. We hope that youth workers and young people will feel confident to edit these to reflect their goals more closely. The important thing with indicators is that they should be observable behaviours, so that youth workers, young people and other stakeholders can see and feedback on progress in an informed way.
- It’s important that the outcomes are viewed together, not in isolation. It’s difficult, for example, to imagine a youth work programme that ‘builds young people’s health and wellbeing’ and does not simultaneously grow their confidence to ‘develop and manage relationships’ that matter to them.
- Skills development is a continuous work in progress – for all of us, and usually over a whole lifetime! A young person who feels confident to speak out in a small group with people they know will, over time, become a young person who feels confident to present their ideas in large groups and to people they have never met before. So, the indicators you choose to measure progress in each context should reflect the age and stage of the young people you are working with – and will change as young people grow.
- Indicators are a tool to help you measure progress. Don’t be tempted to try to measure everything. As a rule of thumb, you can’t expect to effectively measure more than 10-12 indicators in any given programme. So, make sure the indicators you choose are both realistic and relevant.
- The new integrated framework builds on years of thoughtful consultation with youth practitioners, young people and sector partners and stakeholders. But it does not – and cannot – describe everything that youth work does. At best, it is an approximation, a carefully considered simplification that describes some of the important ways that young people develop and change as they participate in youth work. It’s not perfect, but we’re confident it will be useful.
The Youth Work Outcomes and Skills Framework has been developed by the youth work sector in Scotland and articulates the key differences that youth works makes with, and for, young people.
- The seven youth work outcomes describe the key overarching impacts of youth work in young people’s lives.
- The eleven youth work skills describe key building blocks that enable young people to make progress towards these outcomes.
- The indicators associated with the development of these skills describe observable behaviours that help us set goals and measure progress with young people.
The example below shows how outcomes, skills and indicators connect:
The Youth Work Outcomes and Skills Framework can be used in a range of youth work contexts and practices. Importantly, it does not set out to record every aspect of the change that youth work can make, but to describe the most significant changes that young people commonly describe as a result of their involvement in youth work.
The Youth Work Outcomes and Skills framework has been developed by the youth work sector in Scotland and articulates the key differences that youth works makes with, and for, young people in Scotland. The seven youth work outcomes describe the key overarching impacts of youth work
Outcome 1: Young people build their health and wellbeing
Outcome 2: Young people develop and manage relationships effectively
Outcome 3: Young people create and apply their learning and describe their skills and achievements
Outcome 4: Young people participate safely and effectively in groups and teams
Outcome 5: Young people consider risk, make reasoned decisions and take control
Outcome 6: Young people grow as active citizens, expressing their voice and enabling change
Outcome 7: Young people broaden their perspectives through new experiences and thinking
The eleven youth work skills describe key building blocks that enable young people to make progress towards these outcomes. The indicators associated with the development of these skills describe observable behaviours that help us set goals and measure progress with young people.
Use this interactive wheel above to explore the Outcomes and Skills Framework with young people.
The examples below demonstrate how outcomes, skills and associated indicators can be integrated to support evaluation, but they are not intended to be prescriptive. Youth workers will adapt and edit indicators to reflect context, programme objectives and individual needs. Many programmes may focus on just one or two youth work outcomes. And when it comes to the ‘right’ skills and indicators to focus on, youth workers, youth work partners and young people should work together to agree which of these it would be most beneficial to work on and measure progress against.
Over time, we’ll be providing more resources and case examples to support local conversations about how best to use the framework in your local context.