One fifth of all young people aged 16-24 don’t make the leap from school to work, a situation which can quickly become a cycle of failure and despondency.
The long term outlook for this group is one which will affect their wellbeing in a number of ways; their mental and physical health and their poor economic forecast. These pupils may come from a background of low-income and long standing issues and so there is a need for the best support possible to help this disadvantaged group to achieve as much as possible academically.
The main areas of support are a strong careers education focus, the drive to link FE qualifications to the local job market and the school being ready to be fully accountable. To have this extra help at hand can assist with pupils being ready for work at the time of leaving school or FE college rather than ending up as NEET.
There will always be outstanding teachers and truly committed leaders of schools and these are crucial elements in lessening the attainment gap. There’s extra work needed however, as if even every school received an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted, the gap would only decrease by a fifth and there’s no evidence to show that this would actually change the NEET figures due to personal individual circumstances.
NEET stretches through both good times and bad economically in the UK and whether there is a recession situation or a boom period, there are still many NEETs – up to a million at any one time.
There are a number of projects being undertaken with a great deal of partnership work taking place throughout the academic year involving schools, local government, charities, employers and training organisations. The need for a cohesive approach is vital as each section of provision is unable to affect the problem on their own and only by working together can there be progress in prevention and solution.
School accountability is one of the key starting blocks for reducing NEET figures, with teachers and leaders investigating a solid investment in the importance of vocational qualifications as a real alternative for those who they know are not going to attain required exam results – or as in many cases, no exam results at all.
Careers advice can be a significant signposting and support mechanism for the school to work transition although there’s often limited resourcing available to make this as successful as schools would like.
Whilst it’s impossible to change the family situations surround many NEETs within any one community, the teaching planning can certainly look to include as many life skills, social awareness, job readiness and support network activities as possible at the same time as delivering them in a way which appeals to the pupils themselves.
The use of the internet in the classroom environment will always help with re-engaging those who have disengaged from the lessons and the use of tracking progress through data gathering such as attendance, punctuality, number of exclusions, attainment and effort will show where areas of innovative teaching practice are having the biggest impact.
The NEET issue will never disappear as it’s truly impossible to provide relevant jobs for all school leavers or to have the availability of desired training at a local and accessible FE facility. Family issues will always impact on some, however good the teaching and the way forward is about joint working, intensive support and training opportunities with actual added value which will offer the learning in a way which motives the young adult to being able to re-engage and empower their future self.