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A new service to make Connexions

Connexions, the "radical new youth support service for all 13 to 19-year-olds", was unveiled by David Blunkett in February.

It is to be phased in over two to three years from April 2001, but is being piloted in five areas from this month: Coventry and Warwickshire, Devon and Cornwall, Lewisham, Hampshire and Humberside.

The idea is to bring together fragmented existing advice and support services for the young to create a single point of access. The main partners will include the careers service, youth services, youth offending teams, and the education welfare service.

There will be a national network of personal advisers to support and advise teenagers who need help.

The aim of the scheme is to:

* Increase participation in learning up to the age of 19 * Help improve learning achievement at all levels * Prevent disaffection and promoe social inclusion * Give practical support to overcome personal, family or social obstacles.

To administer and oversee the schemes, there will be * A Connexions Service national unit, based at the DFEE, supported by an advisory council and reporting to an inter-departmental group of ministers chaired by David Blunkett.

* Connexions partnerships at local learning and skills council level, responsible for strategic planning and funding.

* Local management committees at local authority level, bringing together local partners and responsible for local delivery.

Connexions will have a quality framework with target-setting and benchmarking. Ofsted will take a leading role in audit and inspection.

A database will be set up to track the progress of youngsters through their teenage years to ensure they do not fall through the net.

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