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Youth hub services 'not clear', say education leaders
COMMUNICATION bet-ween schools and new youth hubs needs to improve, according to councillors and school leaders.
Early intervention hubs were set up in Littlemore, East Oxford, Abingdon, Didcot, Bicester, Witney and Banbury to help the 800 most troubled families in Oxfordshire.
The aim is to target children for support early and bring down drug and alcohol use, teenage pregnancies and school exclusions, and tackle youth unemployment.
But concerns about communication between educational establishments and the hubs have been raised.
Simon Spiers, headteacher at King Alfred’s School in Wantage, said the school had seven pupils which were supported by the hubs, but it didn’t know how far the support could go.
He said: “We are using the hubs, however, it is hard to understand or to know what services we can access and how often because there’s no standard information about what we should be expecting of them, and this causes frustration.
“The students who are supported are getting excellent support but there needs to be far more information about what is and isn’t available.”
In a report to a meeting of the county council’s children’s services scrutiny committee last year, bosses accepted more work was needed to make the system work.
And councillors from the areas represented by the hubs said schools often felt out of the loop, leading to calls for better communication.
Lib Dem group leader Zoe Patrick, who represents Wantage and Grove, said: “Speaking from my own experience, I’m still watching and waiting to see what happens.
“It’s still a mixed picture. In some areas it’s working very well, but it’s not the same where we are, for example, in Abingdon. King Alfred’s says it’s not getting the support it needs from the hubs.”
Committee chairman Michael Waine said: “It can be that the hub hasn’t got to that stage in its outreach but it can also be that the school hasn’t made that outreach.
“This process was a coming-together of a large number of services and the shedding of a large number of services.
“There are still some schools which are living in the previous world and saying ‘nobody is providing services for us’.”
A report compiled after committee members visited hubs said: “Whilst there was evidence that in many cases this is working effectively, there is a lack of consistency in success across some hubs with some partners.”