Ted Milburn CBE, Emeritus Professor at University of Strathclyde; former senior educational manager; youth worker and adult educator
In 1959 I was 21 and had recently been demobbed from my 2 years national service in the Army. My job as a wages clerk in a psychiatric hospital brought the pennies in, and a good few evenings a week were happily spent as a voluntary youth leader in my local church and as a Rover Scout. However, my Minister, together with a friend who was an elder, had been urging me to think of training to become a full time youth leader. They had to be joking! I was just out of the army; glad to be home; my mother was a widow and I was her only child; training would involve moving from Northumberland to London; I had no O levels or A levels; I would probably fail the exams – and it would be a disaster; I had a ‘safe’ job in the NHS and I enjoyed my voluntary youth work. Plenty of sound reasons to leave it alone.
However, the notion of fulltime youth work continued to unsettle me and it was this uneasiness which persuaded me in 1960 to buy and read a copy of the recently published Albemarle Report (Ministry of Education (1960) The Youth Service in England and Wales (“The Albemarle Report”) London, HMSO). In a personal sense – “the rest”, as they say, “is history.”
The Report carried strong messages which related closely to my own ambitions to work with kids from working class backgrounds, laying emphasis on person-centred associational work with young people. There was a profound commitment to informal relationships and it encouraged the development of spontaneity and flexibility – developing three main themes for future work with young people: training, association and challenge. These ideas were backed by a range of recommendations which called for an unparalleled increase in resources to a newly constituted Youth Service.
The main proposals, which were immediately accepted by the existing Conservative government without alteration, included:-
– A ten year development programme
– The establishment of a Youth Service Development Council to advise the Minister
– More paid part time workers
– More cooperation between LEAs and voluntary organisations
– A youth service building programme
– An emergency training college to be established to increase the number of fulltime
leaders from 700 to 1300 by 1966
– A committee to negotiate salaries
– Ministry of Education grants to national voluntary organisations
– Capital grants by LEAs to local voluntary bodies
– Matching grants to LEAs to ensure they increased expenditure on the Youth Service
– Young people as partners in the service
Lady Albemarle was the exceptionally able Chairman of this Committee who guided this process to the production of the report and from all accounts, personally persuaded government ministers of the value of the proposals. She had a life of public service which included work with the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Women’s Voluntary Service, National Youth Employment Council, Carnegie UK Trust, and British Council.
She died in May 2013 aged 103. Thank you Lady Albemarle for what you did for the Youth Service in England and Wales – and thank you for giving me a push which led to my lifetime career.
I am grateful for the excellent analyses of the social, political and educational context of the Albemarle Report and the impact of its recommendations in the following texts:-
Smith, M.K. and Doyle, M.E. (2002) “The Albemarle Report and the development of youth work in England and Wales”, the encyclopedia of informal education, http://www.infed.org/youthwork/albemarle-report.htm.
Davies, B., “Chapter 2 – The Albemarle Report: A New Beginning” in A History of Youth Service in England., NYA, Leicester.