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On the map - Employment and training prospects - Little sign of London Neets

Percentage of 16 and 17-year-olds not in education or work-based learning (2008)

Percentage of 16 and 17-year-olds not in education or work-based learning (2008)

The Prime Minister said last month that he was "terrified" about the prospect of finding a "good" state school in London for his children. But he should rest assured that the capital's youngsters are the least likely in England to become Neets (not in education, employment or training) at 16 and 17.

Only 7 per cent of the capital's youngsters were Neets in 2008 compared with 14 to 17 per cent elsewhere.

Drill down to local authority level and the differences widen. Even in London, Harrow - which has the capital's only remaining three-tier education system - had only 1 per cent of 16 to 17-year-olds as Neets, compared with 16 per cent in Bexley, an authority with selective secondary education.

Above-average percentages of Neets can also be found in other areas with selective school systems, such as Windsor and Maidenhead and Poole. However, this is not a universal rule as Slough has only 2 per cent Neets and some comprehensive systems create significant percentages of Neets, including Rutland, Thurrock and Wakefield.

Of course, these figures are for 2008, before the new age of austerity which may increase the desire to stay in education or training, especially if it brings benefits such as free public transport.

On the other hand, some who leave school may find themselves as Neets because work has dried up locally. However, that group is much smaller than in the past.

In the 1968 recession, the Government postponed raising the school leaving age from 15 to 16 for two years. Assuming that the coalition Government does not go down the same road and postpone the raising of the leaving age for learners to 18, then eventually Neets will be one statistic that won't be collected in the future - at least not in the same way as at present.

John Howson is director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.

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