Friday, 23 August 2013

NEETs, GCSEs and dispair

Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the stats on Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs).

NEETs are up. The stats show NEETs are higher than when the current government came to power. That's over a million young people aged 18-24 who are being failed by the government. When I worked at the DWP, I use to see a lot of NEETs. In fact, because of my age I ended up be assigned to specifically see NEETs because my manager hoped I could relate and impart something. I could and I couldn't. 

A lot of stereotypes exist about NEETs. Images of illiterate chavs and lazy chavettes are conjured into the heads of others. This was very rarely the case. I saw graduates, I saw school leavers and they all wanted to work. They hated the system. Living on a pittance and having the government invade their lives. It was not enjoyable for them and they wanted to tell the Jobcentre to 'fuck off' as soon as possible.

I did my best to help. I got a few onto courses for literacy and maths. Others I managed to get jobs from the Future Jobs Fund. It was horrible when that was scrapped, just as I was leaving the department. I saw people who had escaped into full time work come straight back. It was horrible and I felt worse because I knew I was running off to university to hide from the recession.

What made it worse was something that I had suspected for a long time at the DWP, but was only confirmed this year. A third of NEETS rarely left the house. Outside of Jobcentre appointments and household requirements, these young people were being isolated from society. I can only imagine the depression that must afflict some. It's a horrible way for people to live. But if that wasn't enough, the press and the government call them ‘spongers’ and ‘lazy’ to demonise them. Talk about kicking them when they are down.

So to see this news today that NEETs are higher than when the ConDem government first came to power is very disheartening. I don't want to blame parties or get political on this blog. NEETs are just something close to my heart because I saw their pain and struggle. I live a very sheltered, clich middle class life and this reminds me that not everyone else in Britain has the same opportunities as me.
Source: Notre Dame School, Cobham

On a more cheery note (warning - not cheery). GCSE results were released today and it turns out there has been a fall in GCSE grades. Schools are accused of repeatedly entering students in GCSE maths exams to ensure that precious C grade is achieved. School seems such a long time ago now but I can remember that culture beginning. 

I was heavily pushed by my school to choose to do AS Critical Thinking rather than a GCSE. It was already obvious I would obtain my 5 A*-C so little help was offered there. They wanted to find another way to score points from me to boost their reports. I, naively, jumped at the chance to do an AS level and it was probably instrumental in my switching colleges on results day. Yet when you enter the UCAS system, you quickly learn that Critical Thinking means nothing to universities. Many will not accept it, and those that do will only accept it to AS level. 

Schools should be focusing on getting a great grade over two years, rather than pushing students to repeatedly take exams in the hope of scrapping a pass. Gove says that his new GCSE system will prevent this abuse. Lets hope he's right.

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