Bad news for the compulsory school leaving age in Britain

So we all know that our compulsory school leaving age is being increased, to 18 by 2015 (Hodgson and Spours, 2008) and while educational participation and attainment may be on the rise globally as well as nationally we do need to wonder about what the consequences may be.

While I am not an expert on this topic I have come across one piece of information during my literature review for my dissertation that concerns me…

Most OECD countries have a 90% or higher completion of compulsory education.

However 14 OECD countries and associated countries have lower then 90% compulsory education completion, 10 out of 14 of these have a high compulsory attendance leaving age for example around 17 and 18 (OECD, 2012).

While I do not have any direct correlation between the leaving age and the completion of school it seems logical that if someone doesn’t like something they are more likely to leave if they feel that it will last a long time. So having an increased leaving age may have the potential of putting people off attending school.

One way that this could be combated is to give students a meaningful accreditation solely for good attendance at school, this may bring them some incentive to attend until the end of their compulsory education, this is a method used in Japanese kōtōgakkō or upper secondary schools for 15-18year olds (Howarth, 1991).

Hodgson, A and Spours, K (2008). Education and Training 14-19 curriculum, qualifications & organisation. London: Sage Publications LTD.

Howarth, M (1991). Britain’s Educational Reform: A Comparison with Japan. London: Routladge.

OECD (2012) Education Today 2013: The OECD Perspective. OECD Publishing. 

Who will win and who will lose out of the ‘Big Society’ agenda?

After there have been so many cut backs in the funding for youth and community projects all over the UK both within the public sector and within the voluntary sector it has come as a low blow to may organisations that the government may end up financing private sector projects instead…

Within funding available for working with young people as part of the big society agenda Serco and co have applied for  what may be £100m for two years. So where are youth and community services going now? Will private and voluntary projects work together in areas where public services have been taken? Or will voluntary and public services all buy into the private sector? One issue that cannot be ignored is that ‘One in 10 charities told researchers for a report by New Philanthropy Capital that they could close within the year due to cuts.’

All of the information above is a summary of issues within a Guardian article written by Daniel Boffey, the article can be found here http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/05/serco-bid-national-citizen-service.

Where are we going now? 2011 riots research summary

When individuals commit crimes of theft and destruction on a large scale within society our reaction is to aslongside penalising individuals involved also ask why did this happen and how can we provent it from happening again?

And so since the summer riots of 2011 a study has been commissioned to interview individuals from the areas of London affected ‘After the Riots’ the final report of the Riot Communities and Victims Panel has now been published find the link here http://riotspanel.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Riots-Panel-Final-Report.pdf

Below is a summary of the findings of this report…please feel free to comment and add to this yourselves.

The report calls for

opportunities for all (including the young), people to respect where they live and each other, people to feel they have a stake within society, greater inter-partnership of voluntary and statutory services working for individuals in society who are struggling, police and public law to uphold the law and order, a penalising and reformative criminal justice system within all communities.

After the Riots states that there are different reasons why people may commit crimes and anti-social/anti-community behaviour and highlight 6 key areas that would build economic and social resilience within our communities.

  1. Children and Parents :- many communities involved in the research believed they rioting was a result of poor parenting. Therefore the report states that there is a need to make sure children are getting support, guidance and control from their families. The report continues to talk about the government ‘Troubled Families Programme which is believed (in a poll of 80 local authorities) to overlap with rioters families by 5%. There are key principles outlined for services that work with families; early intervention,  evidence based support for the communities to access, planning for families and not just individuals, to share data across agencies working with families to save time, an advocate for children who need to reach their potential as opposed to looking at their deficits, giving children positive role models within families or communities (including contacting absent fathers about there children).
  2. Building Personal Resilience :- many young people expressed hopelessness to the panel, the panels suggests that families are to instil character into young people including self discipline, application and the ablility to deal with set backs. Where families cannot do this children’s and young people’s services are responsible for this. Also there is also a need for schools to develop their policies on building character, testing their pupils on their character development.
  3. Hope and Dreams :- record youth unemployment among other things were mentioned in regards to young people’s lack of hopes and dreams. In a survey 43% f people thought that schools prepared people for work, there was also an accusation that schools exclude and transfer students for the wrong reasons.  A fifth of school leavers have literacy skills of or below that of an 11 year old, there is a recommendation that schools which fail to provide people with the appropriate literacy skills should pay the cost of raising their attainment via the new provider. There are also recommendations that schools to more to stop truancy and to only exclude as a last resort, there should also be inspection into transfers to ensure a transferred student has not lost any quality in their education. The report states that there is a need for a careers support quality guarantee for all pupils expressing what a child can expect in terms of guidance and support. Businesses should be an ambassador for schools.  Core NEETs (those out of education, employment or training for a year) should have a job promise form the government and a job guarantee for those NEET for two years.
  4. Riots and the Brands :- a majority of shops targeted stocked high value goods, the panel asks businesses to adopt CSR (corporate social responsibility) including apprenticeships and work opportunities. The panel asks the government to support businesses to give something back to the communities such as offering shareholder participation to shorten the growing capitalist wealth gap. In order to address concerns that pressure is put on young people through advertisement the panel writes that the Advertising Standards Authority include materialism into their engagement with young people to build their resilience to it.
  5. Usual Suspects :- the need for early intervention with offenders such as Triage, improving resources for offenders and effective punishment and rehabilitation of offenders is suggested by the panel. Alongside suggestions for community projects for offenders including unpaid work, there is also a need for inter-partnership working and mentoring for each offender.  Due to negative images of police services integrity within communities the panel states that police engage with the communities they work within to tackle negative perceptions, including improving the treatment of individuals on minor occasions by the police.
  6. Community Engagement, Involvement and Cohesion :-  there needs to develop community engagement and communication capabilities as the report found that community members felt they could not interfere with other’s lives but also felt their is a need for communities to help develop families and households. The use of community members within community projects is vital the report found as people will react more effectively with their ‘peers’ than their ‘officials’. The report suggests that volunteering be at the heart of community development.

Injustice and inequality I hear you cry? No it’s only young people’s wages

‘A very hard decision’ has been made to freeze under 21’s minimum wage in Britain.

Here are the new minimum wage brackets; minimum wage rate for those aged 21 years and above will increase by 11p to £6.19 an hour from October, the rate for 18- to 20-year-olds will remain at £4.98 an hour, and at £3.68 for 16- and 17-year-olds. The rate for apprentices will increase by 5p to £2.65 an hour.

Some individuals I know have stated that it is an outrage that young people were being paid so little in the first place, I can’t say that I disagree with this opinion having previously been a 17 year old minimum wage fully self sufficient worker.

But what does everyone else think?

I have taken the above information from a Guardian article which can be viewed here: https://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/society/2012/mar/19/minimum-wage-frozen-for-under-21s

Are we at risk of a NEET overload? All I hear is NEET, NEET, NEET here have some facts

This time a year ago I think the word ‘NEET’ was a purely professional or academic term that I had personally had heard about 3times now it seems to be everywhere;

In the news…

In my work meetings…

In youth conferences…

On the television…

Within schools…

Articles, books…you get the picture

So what does ‘NEET’ mean and what exactly is this ‘NEET phenomena’ that is exploding across news papers, funding bids and social policy agendas costing tax payers and British society a lot of money I’m sure.

The following is Information from my Literature Research that I thought I’d share, please feel free to add and comment!

NEET= ‘Not in employment, education or training’ some others may refer to this as NETLE= ‘Not in employment, training, learning or education’ whichever way you look at it means someone who is not earning or learning (theoretically). However I’d like to mention that NEET’s include people who volunteer of their own accord and do many things outside of earning and learning and so it in no way means that for people to be NEET they are doing NOTHING. In fact I’m sure many NEETs are learning very valuable life lessons everyday unless they are literally doing NOTHING AT ALL in which case I’m sure they will disappear entirely.

NEET is just a current term for social exclusion; social exclusion has been on the political agenda since the early 1990’s. Labour made social exclusion a focus of their campaign into office in 1997 and have aimed policy around supporting those who were socially excluded since. Bridging the Gap was a huge step into the socially excluded correctness zone which aimed to defend the Nation against social exclusion and was a big convincing reason to fund targeted youth services in Britain (the tail end of this may be why I have a job today in fact)!

Social exclusion and NEET seem to be terms that refer to something a person (or people) need to correct immediately why? The reason for this is that being a NEET or socially excluded person creates a higher risk factor for individuals to be involved in substance abuse and criminality. NEET’s are also more likely to be a long term cost on taxation.

Before social exclusion was ‘youth unemployment’, which was a huge political agenda during the 1880’s.

Currently Britain has 260,000 ‘core’ NEETs which means individuals that have been out of employment, training or education for a year.

NEET usually is a term which applies to young people with the majority being 16-18 (except in Wales which last year had a higher 19-25 ratio of NEETs).

I hope this information will be useful to people to other members of society I for one have found it useful in my understanding and placement of political agendas, funding, young people and the current economic climate. I do hope that those who are NEET or NETLE find things that they enjoy doing and perhaps gain employment or seek training in these enjoyments with or without support from government funded schemes, teachers, training providers, learning coaches, youth, social or community workers.

Thank you

Here are some references so that you know I didn’t make all of that up!

Department for Education and Skills. (2002) Estimating the Cost of Being ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ at age 16-18. DfES Publications: Nottingham.

Furlong, A (2006). Not a very NEET solution: representing problematic labour market transitions among early school-leavers. Work, employment and society (20) pp553-569.

Hills, J and Steward, K. (2005) Access on-line here: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/policies-towards-poverty-inequality-and-exclusion-1997

Rose, J. (2008) Youth Policy in Wales. youth and Policy (56) pp 55-63.

Steward, K. (2009) A Scar on the soul of Britain: child poverty and disadvantage under New Labour. In Hills, J Sefton, T and Steward, K. Towards a more equal society? Poverty, inequality and policy since 1997.

Welsh Assembly Government, 2008, Delivering Skills that Work for Wales: Reducing the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training in Wales.

Yates, S and Payne, M. (2006) Not so NEET? A critique of the use of ‘NEET’ in Setting Targets for Interventions with Young People. Journal of Youth Studies 9 (No 3, July) pp. 329-344.

Children eating, cooking and creating their own future? That’s right we don’t always have to do it for them!

The BBC News has reported on two studies which show that cookery classes encourage pupils to recognise and become more accustomed to ‘healthy’ foods resulting in a desire to eat more fruit and vegetables. Cooking isn’t just a fun, social activity it’s a skill which can be used again and again, making it a very productive form of education. Within this article a survey of 2,500 participants of the ‘Let’s get cooking’ project showed that 92% of them used their learnt skills at home.

Read the full article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16854572

How can this be related to our current climate?

Cooking is a great way to educate children, young people and even adults on what food choices they have available, where to get them, how much they cost, what exactly they can do with them and how to use ingredients. Young people at the centre where I work love to cook, however we don’t just run cooking sessions due to the recession and budget cuts we tend to run ‘cooking on a budget’ sessions. Where we make wholesome meals (and sometimes desserts) which cost less than £5.00 for a group of people (on average I’d say around 10 people but it depends on what we cook)! So far we’ve made wonderful rice, potato and pasta dishes as well as experimenting with pancakes, chocolate, honeycomb and porridge (not all at the same time I might add!) The young people who participate are now experts at flavouring rice dishes, in love with porridge and can make their own oven chips from scratch, this week we plan to be making chicken burgers which I hope will go well (even if a session doesn’t go a 100% to plan it’s still a learning experience which can be built on).

If no-one in the group has experience of cooking a particular dish we use this website http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/. If anyone can suggest any other sites please comment below, and especially mention it if you know a recipe which will cost less than £5.00 to feed a group (we’re always on the look out for new things to try).

Thank you

Forming a Youth Service Directory (my working placement for university)

Forming a directory is something I have never done before, not only have I never done it but I have also been asked to do it outside of the area that I work. Why? The reason the directory was proposed to me is that staff and young people of the area would benefit from knowing what is out there for young people to access so that it can be used as a form of partnership referral for any needs/wants that young people have.

Who proposed this idea to me? A youth development officer (YDO), who then arranged for a local community education officer (CEO) to supervise me. During my discussion with the YDO I was very clear about the fact that I didn’t want a CEO who would constantly tell me what to do, as this placement was to demonstrate my own management and development skills. When they explained that I would be to contact all the local youth services, clubs and groups I said yes that sounds like something I can do. What I didn’t explain at this stage (and wasn’t aware of myself) was the fact that I have only ever completed one piece of community work previously (a community profile) which I did as part of a group not by myself and on an area I had more knowledge of.

Now that I am in placement I am realising how my previous confidence  in my own ability and determined attitude to do ‘a good job’ in order to get this project done has made me overlook a few key aspects of it.

-The biggest aspect is that I have completely overlooked young people and their community’s view on this directory (as stated in a previous reflection: https://pedagogyuk.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/had-a-meeting-today/). After some thought I have put posters up in the local youth/community centres in order to encourage participation and introduce the idea of what is going on. As pointed out by blogger http://yourideasredditch.wordpress.com/ this may not be as effective as I’d like. Very easily it could be ignored, misunderstood and overlooked meaning that it isn’t very accessible to people.

The reason behind this lack of youth input into the project is the result of another issue…

-I don’t have enough time, due to work commitments in the evening to go to their youth clubs, streets, community centres and such. I am only in their community during the time they are likely (depending on age) to be in education, training and work. One of the ways I hope to combat this is to ask the youth and community staff to become involved in the project. As much as I dread asking people to do something for me (especially as I have never met them) I will have to try and ask the local staff to introduce people to the project and find out their opinions on it; what they think should go in there, how it should be laid out/accessibly, who should have access to it and so on.

I do worry that when I leave something in someone else’s hands I cannot guarantee the effectiveness of their work, we are different people and we work in different ways. However their way is probably best as they are the local youth and community workers who will be supported by their CEO’s on this (as I am writing to them explaining the project as well).

-The last key aspect of this directory is that it was not initiated by the local community (as far as I am aware) or if it was then not though my own work. The fact that I have started this project with no previous contact with the community is a shame and I wish that I had tried to instigate this contact sooner.

That’s all my blogging for this moment, please feel free to comment and add your opinions/suggestions to further my personal development and hopefully make this project run more smoothly.

Thank you