Press release

Ofsted further education and skills annual lecture

The 2014 lecture is 'Securing a better future for all at 16 and beyond'.

Too many young people are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or their whereabouts are unknown, despite efforts to tackle the problem, Ofsted’s Director for Further Education and Skills, Lorna Fitzjohn, has said today.

Figures show that nearly 1.18 million young people aged 16 to 24 are not in full-time education, training or work. On top of this, the number of young people whose whereabouts are completely unknown is increasing.

Ms Fitzjohn called for more to be done to tackle this problem during Ofsted’s further education and skills annual lecture. The lecture is being held at Spotlight in Tower Hamlets. Spotlight, which opened early this year, is a multi-million pound creative youth space.

The event also saw the publication of the ‘Transforming 16 to 19 education and training: the early implementation of 16 to 19 study programmes’. The study programmes were established last September as a means of tailoring education provision and career advice to each young person in order to improve their ability to achieve their career aspirations. The survey finds that, one year on from its launch, the progress in implementing the scheme has been slow and weak.

The survey findings show that:

  • too many providers are not ensuring the programmes meet the needs of learners
  • too much teaching of English and mathematics is not good enough
  • too few learners progressed to an apprenticeship, employment or higher levels of learning
  • too much provision for careers guidance is weak and not giving learners a clear idea of the paths available to them

Ms Fitzjohn set out a number of recommendations in order to tackle these shortcomings, including:

  • the need for the Government to ensure that there is a reliable system for tracking young people as they move between education and training providers
  • giving legal powers to local authorities to make sure all schools, academies and FE providers provide full information on learners who drop out of education
  • making sure providers and employers work together to ensure that their education and training leads to secure employment

Commenting on the event and report findings, Ms Fitzjohn said:

Today’s lecture highlighted a number of key issues that we need to tackle if we are to make sure that a significant number of young people do not end up being left behind, let down by their education.

As the participation age for education and training rises to 18, it needs to be acknowledged that the 18 to 24 age group could fast become the ‘new NEETs’. It is simply not enough to keep young people in education and training longer if they still fail to gain meaningful qualifications and experience that will help them achieve their career goals. Instead, all this will do for many is delay their inevitable fall into the NEET category.

This is why we need clear and combined action by the Government, local authorities and employers to overcome these failures. During our visits to local authorities and providers, which informed our survey report, we saw a number of examples that showed it is possible to successfully alter provision to meet the needs of young people.

I therefore urge all parties involved in providing education and training post-16 to consider Ofsted’s findings and work together to make sure that all young people are given the skills and experience they need to achieve their aspirations.

Ofsted will play a role in improving outcomes by working with schools, FE providers and local authorities to support actions taken to decrease the likelihood of young people becoming NEET.

Notes to editors

  1. Ofsted’s survey report on the 16 to 19 study programmes is available online.
  2. Lorna Fitzjohn’s speech is online.
  3. You can use the #OfstedFESkills hashtag to follow the conversation about this announcement on social media.

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Published 10 September 2014