Neets need attention before it's too late to save their lives

21st August 2009 at 01:00

Your front-page article was right to draw attention to Jon Coles' recent comments on the "social cost" of young people being disenfranchised from education, employment or training.

For the director general of schools to publically recognise that the work of teachers, schools and colleges is a "matter of life and death" highlights how society, and the education sector, has failed this group of vulnerable young people.

The Aldridge Foundation sponsors two academies - in Darwen, Lancashire, and Falmer, near Brighton - which are areas of social deprivation and characterised by educational under-achievement. In recognition of this, the foundation has specifically introduced and funded pilot projects to target Neets in the communities served by the schools.

In Darwen, 7.2 per cent of young people are classified Neet and we are working in partnership with the local authority and the charity Youth at Risk to bring specially designed entrepreneurship training for 100 Neets aged 16-18. In Falmer, the foundation is working with the local authority on a project run by the social enterprise Participle to design a radical new model for youth services to help enable a "good adolescence" and to encourage young people to participate in developing the structures and connectivity needed to have fulfilling lives.

This demonstrates how innovative academy sponsors can benefit educational provision. The education system should provide an avenue for opening minds and creating life choices for everyone rather than further limiting opportunity and building up frustration among those young people it currently shuts out.

  • Sally Ritchie, Academies director, The Aldridge Foundation, London

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