So Mr Gove, I hope I have been able to show you that 'school service', as a positive force rather than the punitive one you alluded to, has the potential to help pupils so much more than picking up litter.
Government, the private, public and voluntary sectors are taking some big strides towards making social action a normal part of growing up in Britain. We have the opportunity to broaden that ambition to also make youth unemployment unheard of.
'Learn or earn' was one of the headlines of the Prime Minister's speech to the Conservative Party conference this week: a message to the under 25s that, under a future Conservative government, they should not expect benefits...
Our society sends out confusing messages about when young people become adults, what level of responsibility they should have for themselves and what role they can play. You can smoke, join the army, leave school (this school year anyway) and have sex at 16, drive at 17 but you have to wait until 18 to drink alcohol in a pub and vote. Then you hit 21 and that still retains some significance.
There needs to be more recognition of the transferable skills developed by this type of activity: teamwork, communication, empathy; in essence, all the things that businesses say that they are crying out for from young applicants.
In tight financial times, tough decisions need to be made. But equally, both the US and Britain need to think differently about how we tackle our social problems. Like the U.S., Britain is starting to embrace a powerful idea. And that's mobilizing the most powerful resource it has - the British people.
A youth and education charity's efforts have doubled the reading and writing progress of disadvantaged inner-city pupils
Amid concerns over cuts to vital education services, a charity is making waves in inner-city London with a mentor scheme