New research indicates how to prevent teenagers disengaging from school

14 April 2016

The final results have been published of a three-year exploratory study into the impact of school-based programmes that aim to support students aged 14–16 who are at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training).

There are 690,000¹ 16–24 year olds in England who are NEET. These are young people who are currently not fulfilling their potential, many of whom have been failed by the system. Yet the majority of young people who are NEET do not face multiple or complex barriers to engagement and it should be possible to prevent them from becoming NEET if they are identified and provided with the right support early on.

Prior to this latest research by NFER, there was limited evidence on the type of interventions that are most effective at re-engaging young people in education while they are still at school. This particular study ran from 2012 to 2016 and tracked the progress of students in schools from the start of Year 10 through Year 11 and into the start of Year 12.

The programmes studied varied in their approach to supporting young people but this exploratory study suggests that the majority were successful in their aim to re-engage the young people and prevent them from becoming NEET. Included in the findings are:

There were key elements that appeared to be common to all the successful approaches: mentoring; a consistent and dedicated project lead; group support; relevance to the world of work; and flexibility.

The aim of NFER’s research was always to identify programmes that demonstrate promise of positive impact and which therefore warrant further development and evaluation. Says NFER’s Chief Executive, Carole Willis, “NFER has a wealth of experience in carrying out contracted research on education-related issues but we felt that finding ways to reduce the large numbers of young people who are NEET was of such importance that we needed to fund this initial research ourselves. It is our hope that other organisations will want to collaborate on quantitative research that could further help to inform policy and target resources so that all young people can have better experiences at school and fulfil their potential.”

The report can be found at /publications/IMPE04


For further information please contact: Pippa Cox on 01753 637177 or Jane Parrack on 01753 637245.

Notes for editors

  1. Source: Labour Force Survey, taken from ONS NEET statistics quarterly brief, October–December 2015, England
  2. Previous outputs from this study were:
    • The first report was published in February 2014 and provided an overview of nine case studies alongside the attitudes and views of students prior to starting the support programme.
    • The second interim report was published in November 2014 and provided an update. It identified how the programmes were implemented in practice, teachers’ perceptions of successes and challenges, and the views of students in the first year of involvement in the programme.
    • Alongside this second report we published practical tips for implementing support strategies, such as these, in schools. This draws on the findings from across the case studies and identifies key successes and enablers, and how to overcome barriers to implementation.
  3. This research forms part of NFER’s Education to Employment research programme which examines approaches that support young people to carve themselves a route to employment and therefore prevent them from becoming NEET.
  4. NFER is a leading independent provider of rigorous research and insights in education, working to create an excellent education for all children and young people. We are a charity whose robust and innovative research, assessments and other services are widely known and used by key decision-makers. Any surplus generated is reinvested in projects to support our charitable purpose.;@TheNFER