Last week, CAF was in Parliament three times to learn more about issues relating to charities and the voluntary sector.
I attended the Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee of the Education Select Committee, which was hearing from experts on careers advice, information and guidance (IAG) for young people. This included academics, researchers and teaching unions discussing the quality and effectiveness of guidance provided to young people.
This is particularly interesting for CAF, as we launched our UCAS Guidance to encourage young people to get involved with charities last year. Previously there was no publicly available guidance for young people to help them understand the benefits that they gained from getting involved in social action, and how to articulate the skills they derived from it.
MPs asked questions about the current state of information advice and guidance and the response was that it varies from patchy to poor. We heard that the UK was falling in the international rankings for the quality of the guidance given to young people, and that if we want to start improving there needs to be coherent quality standards and key principles for advice, which don’t currently exist in the IAG framework.
MPs also responded to concerns raised around a conflict of interest for schools between offering pupils independent advice that might make a pupil more likely to leave the school which would lead to the school receiving less funding, as funding follows the pupils. This discussion raised the issue of the independence of the guidance provided to young people. Being clear about the independence of the information provided is important to make sure that it is positively received. It’s one of the reasons we talk about the double benefit of social action; to be clear that not only are young people helping others when they get involved with charities, they are can also gain skills which can help them in life.
There was a lot of discussion about the challenges of local businesses providing work experience but not much about the role of charities in providing opportunities for pupils. We are concerned that if the role of charities in providing school pupils with opportunities for work experience and volunteering is not on the agenda, many pupils and charities will miss out on very worthwhile opportunities.
There is definitely more we can do to insert charities into the national conversation on these issues and our next steps here at CAF are to start working directly with teachers. When we launched our UCAS guidance we worked with UCAS to ensure that school advisors have access to the guidance. We now need to make sure that teachers have the confidence to give their pupils more options for how they can simultaneously contribute positively to their community and gain skills that will help them in the future.
On Tuesday 9th February, I attended the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People. This was the first evidence session of the group’s inquiry into the impact and effectiveness of financial education in primary and secondary schools across the UK. In 2013 it became a requirement for schools to provide financial education to pupils. The experts included a representative from Young Enterprise, the CEO of MyBnk and the CEO of The Money Charity.
Young Enterprise conducted research which found that delivering maths lessons in the content of financial education had a positive impact on attainment, seeing a 26% improvement in results. They explained that the positive correlation was because it made it easier for pupils to understand the context and language used as applicable to real life situations. The committee heard recommendations that there should be more done to try and leverage technology with young people in financial education and that the subject should be examined and assessed in schools and colleges.
We want to see how charitable giving can be incorporated into this provision of financial education. MyBnk include charitable giving to a limited degree within their ‘Spend, Save, Share’ module, which gives pupils the choice about how they use money. The Money Charity CEO said that they include charitable giving as a budgetary option when exploring how to budget but that there is not much scope for exploring giving beyond that level in the current programme. Steve and I met Young Enterprise to hear how they incorporate charitable giving into their financial education programme and what more can be done to make charitable giving more of a cultural norm for young people.
I also attended the Civil Society APPG meeting, where MPs and Lords come together to ensure charity issues are heard in parliament. One of the first orders of business was to change the title of the APPG to Charities and Volunteering, since people frequently said that they didn’t know what civil society meant!
We then heard from speakers on the issues affecting small charities. There has been a sense that the bad press the charity sector is getting is due to the practices of large charities and that smaller charities are feeling the ill effects of the backlash.
There was interesting insight into the state of the small charity sector. Some key challenges for small charities were raised, including:
I raised the question about how small charities recruit trustees and more small charities can take up the opportunities to benefit from young trustees. The CEO of the Federation of Social Initiatives (FSI) Pauline Broomhead said that she has noticed lots of social media activity about young trustees and explained that the FSI matches time for trustee meetings with holidays for staff when they take up trusteeship. She also recommended that small charities use social media for recruitment of younger trustees.
We will be meeting with the Small Charities Coalition soon to discuss what opportunities there are for more small charities to diversify their trustee boards and secure their future in the charity sector by engaging with the next generation.
Posted 22 February 2016