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06 September 2018

This week, the Fair Education Alliance has revealed that children from low-income families continue to be four times as likely to be permanently excluded from school. Furthermore, after taking their GCSEs, these same disadvantaged children are six times more likely to be recorded as not in education, employment or training.

The reasons for this educational inequality are not simple and lie in an intricate web of social issues. Addressing such complex problems will take more than one institution, one organisation, or even one government.

The research was published in the Fair Education Alliance’s annual Report Card 2018, which was launched on Wednesday 5th September at the UBS offices in Broadgate. The alliance is made up of businesses, charities, and educational bodies from across the country, each of whom believe that by working together, learning from each other, sharing evidence and amplifying our efforts through our networks we can drive change more quickly. London Youth is very happy to be a member of the alliance.

In it, the report card sets out the need for support for all post-16 destinations – encouraging greater collaboration to provide joined-up information on all post-16 routes.

Employability as part of the solution

Since January 2013, I have been working on London Youth’s employability programme, Talent Match London, which over the past five years has supported over 2,500 young people aged 18-24 who have been out of education, employment and training for 12 months or more, 40% of this cohort are not receiving support from statutory services.

Many programmes aimed at helping young people into work tend to start from a position that the young people need to be consumers of support and development. Despite the ‘black box’ approach, the experience of young people we have worked with, particularly those facing significant barriers, is that employment support remains generic and basic.

We began Talent Match London with the aim of turning that around, and putting young people’s needs first, supporting their aspirations and allowing them to shape their own journey. A major part of this is ensuring that every young person joining the programme has their own Talent Match London advisor to work with them, and has their own Talent Plan, that they develop themselves, and evolve and revise throughout their journey on the programme.

Given the diverse nature of the needs that young people have, it quickly became clear to us that one organisation or approach could not effectively find or open up to all young people who might need the services of Talent Match London. Our partnership has specialist focus on supporting young people with disabilities and young parents and carers. But also within the locality-based partnerships, we have experience working around homelessness, with ex-offenders, in coaching, enterprise, media and sport. Outreach workers across the partnerships have reported that this diversity in specialism has been incredibly beneficial in enabling them to support and refer young people more effectively.

Our programme has maintained a partnership approach by including collaboration as a target for partners and holding network events for outreach and support workers from across the partnership. The purpose of these networking meetings has been to share understanding of barriers and methodologies and to familiarise workers.

Talent Match London partners have undertaken a targeted awareness raising and outreach campaign, working directly with Pupil Referral Units, Social Services, Probation Services and Family Information Service. Also, they are carrying out dedicated outreach directly on the estates surrounding their ‘Hub’ to reach out to young people who are engaged in anti-social behaviour.

And the results speak for themselves, to date over 1,300 participants on Talent Match London have progressed into employment, set up their own businesses or enrolled back into education.

We are a proud member of the Fair Education Alliance because we see the importance of working together as partners with organisations that want to achieve the same things. In this context, it is important to note that schools are not the only places that young people learn, grow and acquire new skills. As Lord Andrew Adonis quoted at the report’s launch:

What the wise parent would wish for their child, the state should wish for all children.”

Matt Dronfield, Senior Employability Manager