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Schools: Admissions

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department has taken to reduce the school drop-out rate in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) Tees Valley district and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. (245020)

The Government have put in place a number of actions to encourage and support young people to remain in learning beyond compulsory schooling. These include:

the September Guarantee, an offer of a suitable place in learning for all young people leaving Year 11, was extended this year for the first time to 17-year-olds, to support young people on short courses or who were NEET during the year to re-engage. Latest data shows that over 94 per cent. of 16-year-olds and almost 80 per cent. of this 17-year-old group received an offer of a place in learning this year;

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;

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.

The Learning and Skills Council has a specific responsibility to raise participation in each local area.

As a result of local and national action and support 78.7 per cent. of young people were in education and training at the end of 2007—the highest rate ever, whilst the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) reduced 1 percentage point from 10.4 per cent. in 2006 to 9.4 per cent. in 2007, the equivalent of 20,000 fewer young people NEET.

In the North East, 76 per cent. of 17-year-olds were in education and training at the end of 2006 (the latest date for which data are available). In 2007 the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the North East was 10.0 per cent. Data are not available for Tees Valley or Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland as the data cannot be broken down to area or constituency level.