There has been an increase in “NEETs”– 16 to
18 year olds who are not in education, employment or training,
according to government statistics.
There were 181,000 NEETs at the end of 2002 – one in 10 of
all young people age 16, 17 and 18. The news will be a
disappointment to the government, which set up the Connexions
service partly in response to alarm at the high proportion of young
people who disappeared from view once they reached school leaving
Although the National Statistics Office says direct comparisons
should not be made with previous years because the basis for
estimating the population of young people has changed since the
census, there is evidence of an upward trend since 1999.
At the end of that year there were 157,000 Neets recorded
– 8.5 per cent of the age group. In 2001 the figure was
173,000 – just over 9 per cent.
The latest figures appear in the same week as a report from the
youth crime charity Nacro suggesting that as many as 100,000 school
age children could be missing from school. Extrapolating from one
local authority’s estimates, Nacro says there are many more
children not attending school than official truancy or exclusion
Nacro’s report, based on evidence from its own local
projects, says they work with hundreds of children of compulsory
school age who have dropped out of school, and many of them were
already becoming disengaged while still at primary school.
Some of the young people had been permanently excluded from
school, but many had drifted into chronic truancy. Some had
initially missed periods of school through fixed term exclusions,
and had found it too difficult to catch up when they returned.
Others got lost between schools or local education authorities
because they had moved around, sometimes moving home with their
families as a result of domestic violence, eviction or fleeing
debt. Some were children in public care who had moved between
placements. Others had recently arrived in Britain and had no
Parental neglect or parental disillusion with the education
system was another reason why some children dropped out, though
there were many parents who had tried hard to find school places or
other educational provision for their children.
Nacro’s report echoes the evidence from a recent study
from Save the Children. It found evidence that children were being
“informally” excluded by schools. They or their parents
had been told to keep away from school, but the school recorded
their absence as truancy or said the child had been withdrawn by
Missing out: key findings from Nacro’s research on
children missing school. £7.50 from Nacro, 169 Clapham Road,
London SW9 0PU
Missing Out on Education: Children and young people speak out.
Save the Children