Are we failing to engage young people?

26 August 2011

In his attempt to probe for deeper causes of the recent disturbances across England, journalist Warwick Mansell revisits reports from the Engaging Youth Enquiry, undertaken by the Rathbone Trust as part of the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training.

The Engaging Youth Enquiry (EYE) was set up to listen to the voices of 16-18 year olds classified as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). In his blog, Warwick argues that although not all participants in the recent disturbance were NEET, the EYE reports shed light on the barriers faced by young people and how they react to their feelings of disengagement.

group of young people

These barriers include poor educational attainment, poverty, low self-confidence and poor labour market experience. He points out that in relation to education, the words “alienation” and “failure” are repeated throughout the report in relation to young people’s feelings about their school experience. He quotes the report’s finding that:

“Some of those who are classified as ‘NEET’ have carried an ingrained sense of failure with them since secondary, or even primary, school. This sense of failure affects the young people’s capacity for self-motivation, and for identifying, realising and implementing their aspirations.” 

Warwick argues that an obsession with raising grades does little to address these feelings of alienation and failure because it doesn’t recognise the value of education beyond qualifications.

You can read Warwick Mansell's blog in full on the NAHT website.  

More about the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training

The Nuffield Foundation funded a six-year independent review of 14-19 education and training from October 2003 to September 2009. It was shaped throughout by the answers to the question: What counts as an educated 19 year old in this day and age?

In its final report, the Review made five over-arching demands:

  • The re-assertion of a broader vision of education.
  • System performance indicators ‘fit for purpose’.
  • The re-distribution of power and decision-making.
  • The creation of strongly collaborative local learning systems.
  • The development of a more unified system of qualifications.

You can find out more about the review, including downloads of all the major reports and issues papers on the 14-19 review page