The Nfer discussion panel on Pre-NEETs misses a trick

Earlier @pigironjoe tweeted this link to an Nfer expert discussion panel on the issue of NEETs

http://www.nfer.ac.uk/research-programme/e2e-discussion.cfm

It’s a worthwhile watch as the participants clearly have great experience in the area and discuss the many issues that lead to NEET outcomes sensitively and with knowledge.

Some of those issues discussed include:

The lack of school/employer engagement with each other

The second tier regard vocational pathways are held in

Confusing and miscommunicated pathways

A lack of impartial Careers IAG

The thin knowledge of routes and expert career IAG across school staff

The decline in pre 16 work experience

The fear of a move towards a more academic based curriculum that doesn’t take the less motivated student with it

A lack of local collaboration between agencies and education institutions

What isn’t discussed but should have been:

The lack of parental input or interest in their child’s progression

Anyway, I still found it a frustrating watch as, despite grappling with all of these complex issues for an hour, nobody seemed to have noticed that they were given a really good solution to all of these problems at about the 10.20 mark.

At this point in the video a Kelly Kettlewell, a Research Manager at Nfer, explains the preliminary findings from a small number of pre-Neet programmes at a group of schools.

She says,

“there did seem to be particular approaches which transcended all the projects and were seen to be effective by the staff and students and these were having strong relationships between the staff and the students, offering the students one to one support…”

And there you have it. It may not fit in a graph in an overblown research paper but that’s your anti NEET combat solution right there.

Have people in schools who are enthusiastic about their role and can communicate and build relationships with young people so that those young people not only receive scheduled individual assistance but also seek it out from staff at their own behest. 

The 2012 destination figures for 2012 Luton school leavers show that, of 55 students seeking employment, education or training, my school supplied 1.

The year on year destination data shows that, while every other high school in Luton increased year on year, our NEET figures did not. Our 2008 leavers NEET figures did not increase in Autumn 2009 or 2010 or 2011. Why? When those 2008 leavers hit a problem out in the real world, they came back to school to seek help. Those relationships were strong enough for them to rely upon when they needed them. “Boomerang kids” my Headteacher termed them when we spoke to the Authority about the data.

What helps this?

Low staff turnover

A community ethos to the school

A strong tutor group system embedded in the pastoral and behavioural care

A dedicated pastoral team

A dedicated careers base in school open at times suitable for the young people and comfortable for them to use

A member of staff based in school – known to students, in front of them in lessons, assemblies, parents evenings and individual sessions that other staff can refer students to when they feel it is suitable

But that’s it. That’s the first prevention step. All of the rest, the advocates for employer contacts, the networks, the expertise of local routes stems from the enthusiasm of those people building those “strong relationships” and offering that “one to one” support.

Is this a naïve point of view? Probably

Am I distilling a complex issue down to an overly simple solution? Maybe

Am I sheltered by the fact that I only have to ensure that 200 young people are progressing onto suitable pathways each year rather than find the structures that would do the same for a nation’s worth? Absolutely

But I do think there’s a strong case to make that those individual practitioners working in great schools are the foundation stones upon which any other needed preventative NEET structures can be built and that research outcomes (a pre Neet check list is mentioned in the video) are only useful to a point. Get the right people in those roles in schools. 

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