At times I found school a stressful time and I imagine that that pressure hasn’t shifted for young people in 2016. I remember the headache that was picking my GCSE options, and feeling that the decisions I made at that time would shape the rest of my future.
Should I study ICT or Business Studies? History or Geography? French or German?
What if I didn’t want to go into further education and instead wanted to be a businesswoman selling ICT equipment across Europe? It’s amazing what can go through a 14-year old’s brain. There was pressure to get it just right and at the time I didn’t feel I had a good enough sense of all of the options available to me.
A recent report by the House of Lords social mobility committee has found that today’s schoolchildren are still facing similar challenges, concluding that they are being let down by the education system and an over-emphasis on higher education, despite only 47% of young people starting A-levels in 2013-2014.
Committee chairman Baroness Corston went as far as to say “To focus on university or apprenticeships, to the exclusion of other routes, is to the detriment of many talented and able young people.
“A young person considering their options for further education is presented with gobbledygook – it is totally unclear to them how they can get the skills needed for a successful career.”
Breaking down barriers
Groundwork Achievement Coaches spend a lot of time working with schools to support their pupils – many of whom are at risk of becoming NEET - to stay engaged with the school system, break down the barriers to them achieving academic success and give them attention, advice and guidance that helps them to consider their options as widely as possible.
Meryem is just one example of a young person who blossomed after she was given reassurance, time and encouragement to consider where she wanted to go in life. Her Achievement Coach helped her every step of the way, helping to identify ways of overcoming a difficult time at home and visualise her own personal roadmap to success.
Choosing the right path
GCSE results don’t always go to plan and further education isn’t for everyone. Not everyone feels comfortable in an office environment and some would much prefer the opportunity to explore alternative career paths.
Harry joined one of Groundwork’s Green Teams where he learned horticultural skills as well as completing his NVQ.
From helping with CVs to providing apprenticeships, Green Teams teach both practical and soft ‘life skills’ – which could be as simple as learning how to get up for work in the morning, or learning how to work as part of a team - that allow them to improve their chances of employment and create a better place for their communities, outcomes which have both personal and social benefits.
Harry said, "My Grandad is proud that I’m out working and earning. My GCSE’s didn’t really go to plan. I got into this apprenticeship was because I wasn't really certain what I wanted to do in the future.
“But this has pointed me in a direction - I want to do something like this. I think the NVQ is going to help me out to make me more employable."
Not all education is learnt in a classroom. Learning is learning, in anyone’s book, academic or otherwise. As a society, we need to recognise that for some young people it’s not as simple as choosing A or B once they’ve finished school.
We need to offer a plan C: Choice.
Post by Stacey Aplin, PR and Communications Officer