Last year 17 New Start projects were launched to help 14 to 17-year-olds who have become disaffected with school and early research is beginning to show how work-based activities can encourage teenagers to take up learning again.
Year 10 and 11 pupils in Northamptonshire are offered an "enriched curriculum" which includes working with industrial mentors and studying for national vocational qualifications with private trainers. Projects are also being devised to tackle social exclusion in six of the most deprived areas by bringing education and housing authorities together with agencies tackling crime and drugs.
Two outreach workers appointed by AZTEC, the south-west London training and enterprise council which covers three boroughs, are devising tailor-made work experience programmes for year 11 students who are due to leave school this summer. They are also expected to start working with teachers to help identify children as young as 13 who are becoming disaffected.
Out-of-school groups working with 14 to 16-year-olds with poor attendance records in Hertfordshire are being extended. They will work with youth workers, careers advisers and voluntary groups to draw up work-based training programmes to try to boost post-16 participation.