Up to 60,000 teenagers in post-16 education limbo

Despite the 'September Guarantee' of education or training for 16- and 17-year-olds, thousands could be missing out

George Ryan

The September Guarantee is supposed offer all 16- and 17-year-olds an education or training place

Thousands of teenagers are missing out on education or training – despite a government guarantee. 

Since the summer of 2014, the so-called September Guarantee requires local authorities to find an education or training place for all 16- and 17-year-olds.

This can take the form of: full-time education in a school sixth form or college; an apprenticeship or traineeship; or employment combined with part-time education or training.

Figures published by the Department for Education show that in 2018 across England, 94.5 per cent of young people were offered an education or training place.

That means that for remaining 5.5 per cent – equating to more than 60,000 young people – either no offer was made, the offer was deemed “not appropriate” or it was not recorded.

The 60,000 figure includes young people in employment without regulated qualifications, those with personal circumstances that prevented them taking part in learning, those still considering their options and those for whom there was no appropriate provision.

Read more: One in 10 16- to 24-year-olds classed as Neet

More news: Setting and selection 'hold back disadvantaged pupils'

Background: More than one in three care leavers ends up Neet

Young people not in education or training

Nationally, there was a slight drop in the proportion of young people receiving an offer, from 94.7 per cent in 2017.

According to the figures, the worst-performing area in the country was Swindon, where 31 per cent of young people did not receive an education or training place, according to the DfE statistics. However, this could be because the status of 1,326 young people has yet to be recorded by the local authority.

Only three local authorities – Barnsley, City of London and Isles of Scilly – offered a place to 100 per cent of the cohort.

The participation age was raised to 18 in 2015. A report by the Learning and Work Institute, published in July 2018, said that around 40,000 16- and 17-year-olds were not in education, employment or training, in spite of the legal requirement for them to be so.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, warned things could get worse as the Education and Skills Funding Agency said it could not guarantee to fund all 16- to 18-year-olds who wanted to take an apprenticeship.

He added: "For the first time in living memory, ESFA say that they can’t guarantee funding of new starts for 16- to 18-year-olds, which is diabolical, especially for key sectors where it is now difficult to recruit EU migrants. I still can’t believe that this is really happening. This is a matter which should be covered in the Public Accounts Committee session later this month."

Worst-performing local authorities

  • Swindon – 69 per cent (of fixed cohort offered an education or training place)
  • Reading – 71 per cent
  • Windsor and Maidenhead – 77 per cent
  • Haringey – 86 per cent
  • Bath and North East Somerset – 87 per cent
  • Derby City – 87 per cent
  • Wokingham – 88 per cent
  • Somerset – 88 per cent
  • Medway – 88 per cent
  • Blackpool – 88 per cent
  • West Sussex – 88 per cent
  • Wiltshire – 88 per cent

The regions

  • South West – 92 per cent (of fixed cohort offered an education or training place)
  • South East – 93 per cent
  • East Midlands – 94 per cent
  • East of England – 95 per cent
  • Yorkshire and the Humber – 95 per cent
  • London – 95 per cent
  • West Midlands – 96 per cent
  • North East – 96 per cent
  • North West – 96 per cent

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

Latest stories


Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 23/9

A one-stop shop for teachers who want to know what impact the ongoing pandemic will have on their working lives
Tes Reporter 23 Sep 2020