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Teachers expect more pupils to end up on the dole, Prince’s Trust survey reveals

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 April 2012

Graham Ball, Prince's Trust

Graham Ball, Prince's Trust

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Teachers in the East of England expect more pupils to end up on the dole than ever before, new research by The Prince’s Trust has revealed today.

Comment by Graham Ball, The Prince’s Trust regional director for the East

We know that teachers are doing all they can to support their students and it is more important than ever to work closely with them to support those who may be struggling.

All too often these young people fall out of the education system because they struggle to keep up and end up feeling that they can never achieve anything. There are thousands of young people that fall into this vicious cycle and can end up feeling like they have ‘failed’ in school, leaving with few qualifications and little confidence to help them find a job in the future. This can breed low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and sometimes even depression.

Too many young people feel that they can never break this cycle. We think they are wrong.

We cannot allow young people who are still at school, as well as the million young people who are struggling to find a job, become victims of this recession. With the right support, it is possible for pupils to achieve their ambitions, rather than becoming a “lost generation”.

Youth charity The Prince’s Trust runs the xl programme with teachers to help young people who are struggling at school, preventing exclusions, improving grades and giving them the skills they need to find a job in the future. We work with schools and organisations across Norfolk, including Hewett School and Respect4Us, to give these young people guidance and structured support - helping prevent truancy, potential drop-outs and exclusions and helping them gain qualifications and employability skills.

I met one young person from Norwich recently who found his lessons difficult and as a result he began to truant and he struggled to work well with others. However, the xl club gave him the confidence to learn new skills and he is now looking forward to going to college and finally believes he has what it takes to achieve in his future.

It is young people like this that we need to support to ensure that they are well equipped to move from the education system and into a positive future.

Government, charities and employers must work with teachers now to support vulnerable young people giving them the skills they need to find a job in the future. If we don’t, we risk seeing a generation of lost young adults joining an ever-growing dole queue.

For more information about The Prince’s Trust please visit www.princes-trust.org.uk

Teachers in the East of England expect more pupils to end up on the dole than ever before, new research by The Prince’s Trust has revealed.

Two-thirds of secondary school teachers surveyed in this region – 67pc – are “increasingly worried” their pupils will end up on benefits due to high unemployment levels while one in three – or 32pc – feel their efforts to help pupils become employable are “in vain”.

Half fear more youngsters than ever will end up relying on government handouts.

The survey, which was carried out last month, also suggests the difficult financial climate is having a concerning effect on the welfare of youngsters.

Two-thirds of teachers in the East reported regularly findings pupils coming to school hungry while nearly eight out of 10 – or 79pc – see them arriving in dirty clothes.

In both cases, the problems have increased since the start of the recession.

Some teachers admitted buying food for struggling pupils from their own wages.

Graham Ball, East of England regional director of The Prince’s Trust, said tales of the recession harming young school or university leavers who cannot find jobs are well known but now the victims were getting younger.

He said: “The recession is already damaging the hopes of more than a million young people who are struggling to find a job. Now young people in schools are next in line.

“We cannot allow them to become the next victims of this recession. With the right support it is possible for pupils to achieve their ambitions, rather than becoming a ‘lost generation’. Government, charities and employers must work with teachers now to support vulnerable young people giving them the skills they need to find a job in the future.”

Last night Dawn Jackson, founder of the Norwich-based Future Projects and now a social inclusion consultant working in Norfolk and Suffolk, said the key to tackling deprivation was for organisations to work together.

She said: “There needs to be measures to address the problems that children have, to provide a better future, and do that by providing good education and good support provision.”

Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children’s services, said the authority’s investment in developing and promoting apprenticeships for young people, work to ensure pupils left school with qualifications the needed, and the government’s pupil premium funding all aimed to improve the life chances of Norfolk’s young people.

She added: “We continue to work closely with our partners in both the public and voluntary sector to identify families in need and have just received additional funding from government to develop our work with ‘troubled families’, supporting those families affected by a range of issues including unemployment and poor school attendance.”

Teachers completing the national Prince’s Trust survey were asked to provide personal insights on the issues they see pupils facing in their schools.

One said: “On a daily basis, I witness one child who never changes his clothes at all, so all term he has been wearing the same two hoodies and jeans.”

Others reported seeing “scavenger pupils finishing off scraps, as they haven’t eaten enough” and a pupil who comes in to school “to have food and get warm” while their family struggles to pay the bills.

The Prince’s Trust aims to help 50,000 vulnerable young people this year, giving them the skills and confidence to find a job. Last year, more than three in four of young people on Prince’s Trust schemes moved into work, education or training.

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