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End the postcode lottery

Tom Watson, director of the Fairbridge Trust, a charity working with 13-25s, echoed Jane Arrowsmith of Oakbank School and suggested that, while there was much very good practice, with very good organisations developing complementary or alternative programmes, there was also "a bit of a postcode lottery".

Mr Watson said: "There are lots of opportunities in some areas but not in others. There are some examples of strategic planning and a new impetus has been given by the Executive's employability framework, which we hope will refocus on a personalised approach to tracking individuals.

"We have got to stop being islands and look to the various players in the sector to make it work cohesively."

Developing an approach that involves the teaching of communication skills along with independent and essential life skills, the trust has an 80 per cent success rate in clients going on to complete long-term training.

Two new programmes involve working with and in schools - Active Steps, which targets Christmas leavers, and Activ8, developed with Glasgow City Council, which deals with the most difficult to reach pupils.

Thirty per cent of the Christmas leavers go back into mainstream education; of those who take part in Activ8, 75 per cent go on to FE, training or work placements.

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