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Further Education

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent steps the Government has taken to encourage 16 to 19 year-olds to stay on in education. (209944)

77.3 per cent. of young people were in education and training at the end of 2006, equating to 1,547,000 16 to 18-year-olds—the highest number ever. The Government have taken a number of steps to increase this still further and put us on the pathway to raising the participation age in 2013:

the September Guarantee, an offer of a suitable place in learning for every year 11 school leaver, was delivered nationally for the first time last year—and this year we will be extending that offer to 17-year-olds;

a range of financial support is available to young people to help them continue in education or training, this includes Education Maintenance Allowance, Learner Support Funds, Residential bursaries, Care to Learn and Dance and Drama Awards;

Activity Agreement Pilots in eight areas are testing different packages of financial support for young people completing agreed activities to help identify the most effective model for engaging 16 to 17-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) and Learning Agreement Pilots in eight areas are testing how young people in jobs without training can be motivated to participate in learning;

the NEET strategy (November 2007) introduced a number of measures to increase participation including a duty on providers to notify Connexions when a young person drops out of learning, and encouraging providers to offer more flexible and responsive provision throughout the academic year; and

the post-16 progression measure will help all schools focus on ensuring their pupils make a good transition to post 16 learning—the data will be published in the School Profile in summer 2009.

The 14-19 reforms will go still further. We are introducing a new more engaging curriculum through Diplomas from this September and, in 2013, all young people will have an entitlement to study one of the 14 Diplomas that will be available. For young people who want a more work based route, we are expanding the apprenticeship programme so that every young person who wants one can have one, and the foundation learning tier will give young people not yet ready for level 2 and level 3 qualifications the essential building blocks for future learning.