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Press release: Teachers and staff are helping re-engage and improve outcomes for disadvantaged young people in London, Ofsted finds

28 Feb 2014

Ref: NR2014 – 09

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Young people in London, many of whom are not in education, employment or training (NEET), are being helped to re-engage with study and learning by college teachers and staff, an Ofsted report has found.

The report, Supporting young people to participate in education and training, forms part of Ofsted’s work with the Association of Colleges to better understand how to help disadvantaged young people develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. In order to identify factors that enabled or hindered good practice, inspectors gathered evidence from visits to seven London-based colleges.

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s Director for Further Education and Skills, said:

'This report shows that college staff and teachers in London are using every avenue available to them to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunities to succeed.

'Many young people who are at risk of becoming NEET need a secure and supportive environment if they are to thrive in their education and training. These colleges are working hard to help young people stay in education, get the qualifications they need and find employment in the industries they want.

'However, colleges, local authorities, government departments and partners must work more closely to develop methods of information sharing. This is vital if we are to make sure that young people are encouraged to succeed rather than left to slip through the cracks.'

Ofsted found that the colleges have a wide range of courses and programmes that focused strongly on young people’s vocational aspirations. Their links with employers helped to enrich students’ vocational experience and leaders were highly committed to engaging with students.

Specifically, the report finds:

  • the colleges take a variety of approaches to their curriculum to support disengaged young people
  • access to learning is improved by allowing young people to join courses in January, offering an alternative route back into learning for those who dropped out during the autumn term
  • teachers have good knowledge of individual students and their circumstances, making programmes to develop their English and maths skills relevant to their needs and course
  • colleges offered enrichment activities and work experience, helping build students’ experience and confidence
  • strong relationships are forged with the parents and guardians of students with learning difficulties or disabilities
  • staff offer support for vulnerable young people by building a ‘team around the student’ which includes counselling and mentoring
  • colleges place much importance on ensuring they have high-quality staff and work to make sure they recruit and retain the best
  • there is strong, visible leadership with good knowledge of local needs which supports and encourage young people to participate in education and training.

Whilst the report found that teachers and staff overcome difficult restrictions to offer greater opportunities for success for young people, inspectors highlighted areas for improvement. This included a need for greater sharing of information between schools, colleges and local authorities so that it was easier to identify and track young people whose education, employment and training status is unknown.

The report also argues that government departments, funding agencies, colleges and partners need to urgently agree strategies to improve engagement with 17 and 18 year olds who are NEET so that they receive the resources which they are entitled to, such as free schools meals and bursary funds.

Whilst the flexibility of colleges’ access to learning was commended, the report urged leaders to ensure young people can join courses throughout the year. They also advised colleges to develop a set of indicators that would help them identify patterns of success against the wider context of education and training across London.

Notes to editors

1. The colleges visited were: Barking and Dagenham College; Barnet and Southgate College; Bexley College; Bromley College; Croydon College; Hackney Community College; Westminster Kingsway College
2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.00pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359. 

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