Thousands of GCSE students are at risk of dropping out of the education system. According to experts, the combination of cuts to advice on careers, cuts to the EMA support grant in England, and concern over rising tuition fees could lead to dropouts after Thursday’s results.
The government believes that no one should leave school without the ability to further their education or get a job. However, according to Brian Lightman of the heads’ union ASCL, school heads are facing a tougher than ever job. He said, “”The good news is we will have a very good set of results. This crop of students has studied extremely hard.”
“Not Worth It”
He then went on to explain the reasons why the dropout rate is expected to be higher, saying, “Sixteen-year-olds are facing unprecedented challenges at the moment as they hear a torrent of messages about the difficulty of accessing university places, increased tuition fees and youth unemployment.
“At the same time support services such as the Education Maintenance Allowance, Aim Higher and face-to-face careers guidance have been cut back.”
Official data released last week showed that nearly one million youths between 16 and 24 were “NEET”—not in education, employment, or training. Mr. Lightman maintained that the biggest challenge to heads would be to keep students who wonder if their education is worth it, in school. Part of this concern is due to a lack of careers advice.
Cuts to Careers Services
Paul Chubb, head of the careers service group Careers England, expressed similar concerns, arguing that the government changes on career policy make the tough job market even more difficult for young people. Councils will have no “duty” to provide their careers services, or Connexions, next year, and so many are cutting them.
Mr. Chubb said, “”What careers services and Connexions services have become first class at is identifying those youngsters most at risk of giving up by keeping in touch with them and persistently and gently cajoling them.
“This careers advice has become a vital part of preventing thousands of 16 and 17-year-olds from becoming lost to the system. They are incredibly vulnerable at this time.
“Who is going to do that now that in many places careers centres are closing and thousands of staff are losing their jobs.”
Competition will also increase as those A-level students who did not get into university this year will face returning to college to try again next year, when tuition fees increase.