It takes a Village

“It takes a Village to raise a child…”

…is an African proverb meaning that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. Equally, if that community neglects or forgets about some of their children and young people, life chances may be diminished with an impact that can become lifelong.

Today, amidst continuing focus on children returning or not returning to school, and as some young people in Year 10 and Year 12 begin to return to their school or college, I wondered if we are neglecting those young people who have the most to lose as #coronavirus kids – namely young people in Year 11 and Year 13 who are facing significant transitions. Without a properly resourced programme for transition to college or work, too many of these young people will find themselves with no plan and no-where to go. Many will be “lost” to education and training, entering the category with the unpleasant acronym “NEET” (not in education, employment or training.

Corona crisis could increase youth unemployment by 600,000 this year – and scar young people’s prospects for far longer”

A recent report by the Resolution Foundation, Class of 2020 warns of the particular damage that is likely to be done to young people’s prospects as an economic crisis follows the public health crisis. It is also already well-documented that young people from Black, Asian and  Minority Ethnic communities have long experienced disadvantages in the labour market. These two reports by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Ethnicity, Poverty and Youth Employment and Supporting Ethnic Minority Young People from Education into Work provide examples of best practice and set out recommendations for action for education providers and employers.

A number of organisations are developing plans and initiatives in this area: calling on the government to produce a comprehensive plan, for example by re-introducing the Education Maintenance Allowance (NCFE and the Campaign for Learning); setting up a coronavirus Youth Employment coalition and, most recently in Greater Manchester the launch of a Young Person’s Task Force, headed up by the Olympian Diane Modahl.

If you’d like to hear some upbeat and creative policy ideas that could be taken up by national and regional government, listen to this episode of the Reasons To Be Cheerful podcast: Mobilising a zero carbon army: green jobs for young people.

“Keep young people connected to their future”

As research by the Office for National Statistics reported that half of 16- to 24-year-olds have been hit by 'lockdown loneliness', the Young Westminster Foundation launched a fundraising initiative to support the provision of digital access to services for young people not attending school and unable to connect with their usual support networks.

Given the dire long-term consequences of ‘losing’ these young people, it is vital that adults in our communities, teachers and support staff from schools and colleges as well as other professional groups involved with young people and their families, go beyond their normal working practices to help ensure that we maintain connections with young people in Years 11 and 13 during this period of transition. Government programmes will come into play eventually, but the need for connection is now.

Connect to College

This interactive advice booklet (download here) and associated website produced by the Manchester College and East Manchester Academy is a great resource that could be used by students preparing for any transition from school to college or indeed from college to university. Although the specific advice relates to Manchester College, the questions and ideas are relevant to all settings. It has guides for those who may be unsure of their next steps, and links to a range of online resources that can help with decision making, for example this page on career planning:

You might have missed…

The Government has provided further funding to support extra mental health support for pupils and teachers.

This includes a £95,000 pilot project in partnership with the Education Support Partnership that will focus on teachers’ and leaders’ mental health and grants worth more than £750,000 for the Diana Award, the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the Anne Frank Trust.

Something to enjoy

We have been very pleased to be able to start opening up our offices at the lovely Old Parsonage in the past week. The building remains closed to the public and it will be some time before our team can work normally in the offices again. However, the last art exhibition before the building closed – and the first one when it opens – is the Spring Art Show featuring local schools. Before their furlough, Margaret and Fiona, our wonderful colleagues from The Parsonage Trust carefully photographed the art works which can be viewed on the Parsonage Trust website. Here, we are very happy to provide links to the works exhibited by some of our Partner Schools: Broad Oak Primary and the St James and Emmanuel Trust schools. Enjoy!

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