Positive for yoof?
We love guest posts and today’s is a classic environmental study; in that it despairs of the amount of paper wasted in not particularly ‘original’ research, studies and reports. The argument is quite strident and encourages debate so please do chime in. If you would like to submit a post for the blog please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org but not until you’ve enjoyed, and commented on (?!?) today’s post.
After a long day of long tedious meetings, answering phone calls, replying to emails, I try to take some time to catch up with the going’s on in the sector. Who’s tweeting, what report is out, who asked the most ridiculous question in PMs Question time?
Today I was catching up with a thorough read on the Positive for Youth report launched in December 2011. Whenever I open up a document that Adobe tells me is over 50 pages, it usually serves a quick scan, pick up on the important points and move on. However, being in the youth sector, I thought it important that this particular report should get a little bit more of my attention; particularly if the government isn’t going to change for a while…
The more I read this report, the more I kept saying to myself – surely someone has just copied and pasted this from previous papers, reports, academic studies, green and white papers. This isn’t anything new and actually, most of this is just recycled common sense.
I engender no disrespect to what is a well written, well researched and well implemented report. Doubtless the authors have just done what they were asked to do.
What I do take issue with is that this is a typical example of tax payers money being spent on reports that have already been done. The cost of commissioning an academic study can be tens of thousands of pounds and yet we don’t seem to be making the most of this money.
Take into account the riots last summer. Not only was there damage to shops, streets and faith in community safety, but there was also a huge commission and report into why this happened.
You only have to look at the youtube video filmed by young people the year before to understand why they happened. A little bit more interactive than Adobe reader!
I was reminded of this phenomenon again as when reading my council’s latest document on strategic priorities that had been consulted on, deciphered and reported up. Hold on a second thought I, this is exactly the same as last year with just a few words changed.
What crosses my mind when I see these reports is that the nature of these reports is changing. Ideas are no longer seen as novel, especially for those of us constantly looking for ideas on the www. After all, if you can exchange ideas, share best practice and look at international projects on twitter the need for regular reports looking at these ideas three years later is less valuable than it used to be. We still need the ideas but the reports are struggling to keep up with the society and provide anything new and novel.
So why do we commission these expensive reports if they don’t tell us anything new?
Part of me could understand this if the purpose was to raise the profile of a particular issue. In the case of Positive for Youth, it is imperative that the Conservatives put their take on how young people are being supported in the UK .
But really, do we write them so that we don’t have to write “ditto” underneath previous administrations findings?
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