Helping hand for problem students

13th October 2000 at 01:00
THE Scottish Executive is to provide pound;9 million to give vulnerable young people aged 16-24 key workers and mentors who would help them in the transition from school to work and further study.

Nicol Stephen, Deputy Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister, announced this key ingredient in implementing the recommendations of the Beattie report. Ministers have allocated pound;22.6 million to put the report into practice over the next three years.

Mr Stephen, who is chairing a national action group to develop the plans, said implementing the Beattie report was an important priority and he expects a range of organisations to play a part by providing guidance, support and learning opportunities.

The Beattie committee, chaired by Robert Beattie, chairman of the Scottish Further Education Funding Council, envisaged that key workers and volunteer mentors would be allocated to disadvantaged school-leavers by 17 area strategy groups across Scotland, which would monitor progress.

There should be particular links to the careers service, educational psychologists, FE colleges, traiing providers, local authorities and the voluntary sector.

The action group, proposed by the committee when it reported last September, has just held its first meeting and has yet to spell out in detail how it plans to implement the report. But the Executive says key workers "will provide a single point of contact to guide young people who require additional support through the range of agencies and advocate on their behalf".

Other steps agreed by the action group to cover recommendations made by Beattie are a pound;4.5 million package to improve access and support in FE, pound;6.1 million to improve the assessment of young people and find out what happens to them, and pound;3 million for better assessment and psychological back up.

The committee identified vulnerable young people as those who have few or no qualifications, low basic skills, poor attitude and motivation, physical disabilities, learning difficulties and mental health problems.

The action group comprises 11 representatives from education, the careers service, training providers and specialist agencies.

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