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Better Futures for Young People in Wales

November 21st 2016

Young people from low-income families in Wales are only half as likely to get good qualifications at the age of 16 as young people from better-off homes, limiting their opportunities in the future.

We want to end this unfairness and improve opportunities for disadvantaged young people in Wales.

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Last year, four out of nine 16 year olds in Wales did not manage to get five ‘good’ GCSEs (including Maths and English/Welsh). The proportion of children receiving Free School Meals who do not get these results is even higher at five in seven.

Their GCSE results often do not reflect their ability. Their low achievement be no fault of their own – it is often associated with illness, an unsettled home life or poor teaching, all of which can affect how well a young person does at school.

Not securing 5 ‘good’ GCSEs has a serious impact on young people’s life chances.

Without good GCSEs, young people in Wales have very limited opportunities.

Many go on to pursue vocational learning or take up a Foundation apprenticeship or traineeship.  Valuable though these routes can be, there are concerns about the limited long-term prospects such as lower earnings, equality of access (e.g. for young women and people from BME groups), and the limited range of vocational areas covered.

Some disadvantaged young people find paid work, typically in low paid and low skilled roles, while a minority – around one in ten 16-18 year olds and one in five 19-24 year olds – do not pursue any of these opportunities and so are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

We want to end this unfairness.

All aspects of education, including apprenticeships and other youth programmes, are wholly devolved to the National Assembly for Wales. There is therefore real potential to develop provision for disadvantaged young people that not only improves the prospects of young people in Wales but which also could be adopted in other parts of the UK.

This project will draw on the experiences of disadvantaged young people in different communities across Wales, as articulated by them and as shown in government and other reports and statistics, to shape robust proposals to improve their opportunities and prospects.

It will make a significant contribution to transforming the opportunities available to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and help to maximise their potential.  It will identify gaps and shortcomings in the opportunities available to them on leaving statutory education and develop practical proposals to increase the range, quality and access to learning, training and employment options open to disadvantaged young people.

Thank you

We are very grateful to everyone who donated to our crowdfunding campaign, which helped us to raise over £5,000 towards the project via donations to our crowdfunding page and offline.

We will use this funding, along with funds we raise from applications to trusts and foundations, to develop proposals for better opportunities for young people who do not achieve five ‘good’ GCSEs. We will look at the strengths and weaknesses of the options currently available to them (further education, apprenticeships and employment) and work with young people and education professionals to enhance the range and quality of opportunities.

The project started in June 2017 and the report and our recommendations to make a better future for young people was launched in June 2018.

However, this is not the end. We will continue to highlight the issues we identified and our recommendations to create change for as long as it takes to improve the prospects of young people who leave school without 5 ‘good’ GCSEs.

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