When a student leaves school and becomes Neet (not in education, employment or training) with no obvious excuse for being so, society looks to blame the teachers for this unacceptable result. Yet teachers could legitimately point to the fact that guidance on what works in preventing disengagement among this particular group of students is very thin on the ground.
A new study from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is underway to address the latter issue. Over a period of two years, it will monitor more than 100 students in Key Stage 4 across the UK who have been identified as being at risk of becoming a Neet statistic, despite having no barriers to learning.
“The aim of the study is to identify ways to re-engage these disengaged young people. Where there is evidence of promising practice, we intend to carry out a quantitative evaluation of the impact of the interventions and facilitate the replication of such practice,” explained Tami McCrone, research director at NFER.
Schools are free to use whichever interventions they choose, and teachers will chart progress of the disengaged students over the period using data such as attainment, attendance, effort, punctuality and number of exclusions. As McCrone said, those interventions shown to be successful will then go under the microscope.
The study builds on a report NFER published last year, which aimed to discover reasons why students became disengaged and how those at risk of disengagement were being identified.
According to UK government figures, the proportion of 16-18-year-olds classed as Neet in England rose from 10.7 per cent to 12.2 per cent from 2012 to 2013. In the UK as a whole, 14.9 per cent of the 16-24 age group were classed as Neet in the third quarter of 2013.
Schools and colleges bear the brunt of blame for these high statistics, so a study that aims to help teachers do something proactive to reduce them will no doubt be broadly welcomed. TES Professional will be reporting on some of the initial findings in July.
NFER is still looking for schools to take part in the study, so if you are interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.