The number of young people across the District who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) has fallen according to official statistics.
Figures released from the Department for Education have shown that the NEET figure for Bradford now stands at 3.5%, with the average for England standing at 4.2% and that of West Yorkshire at 4.7%.
The position for the Council amongst other local authorities is now 47th out of 152. Bradford’s performance is the 5th most improved nationally, and the lowest rate in West Yorkshire.
A key factor in the improved figures is the strong partnership working between the Council, Connexions (which is run by Prospects), education and training providers, and the voluntary sector.
This partnership approach led to the success of initiatives such as NEET free Keighley, where organisations worked together to share information on joint projects to reduce the numbers of NEET young people in hot-spot areas of the town.
A number of factors have been important in reducing the figures. Among them are:
· Very focused support and tracking of the school leaver cohort.
· Better results for the vulnerable school leaver group (one NEET Child Looked After when the activity survey was measured).
· Better tracking of out of area young people via the out of area schools and closer working with other local authorities to share information.
· The work done specifically in Keighley around NEET free Keighley which took about 60 young people off NEET.
· Emphasising the changes made to the age at which young people can leave education and training (Raising the Participation age – RPA)
· Door-knocking every week round hot spot areas to contact young people.
Ryan Lund, who is aged 18 and was NEET but is now doing a course in maths and English, and has started an apprenticeship in joinery at Bradford Council, said: “Connexions helped me get on a course and to get on my apprenticeship. I love what I’m doing as no two days are the same and I now know what I want to do in life. Connexions also helped me find my own place to live so I now have my own independence too.”
David Maxwell, Headteacher of Oakbank School, where Ryan was a student, said “We are extremely proud of Ryan and all our students who, with the help of our own staff, local business partners and our excellent Connexions’ advisor, Craig Farrell, leave here with a positive path ahead of them and a clear plan for their future. “
Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, Portfolio Holder for Education, Skills and Culture, said: “These figures are very welcome news. It’s a testament to the partnership working across the district focussing on supporting young people to find training and employment.It’s made a real difference and I thank our partners for all their hard work.”
Jenny Cryer, Regional Operations Director for Prospects, said: “These figures are great news and show we can lead the way with the best figures in the region. Most importantly, they are great news for Bradford young people who are getting the benefit of being in work, education and training. Prospects are very proud of the role of the Connexions Service in supporting and tracking individuals, and working with schools colleges and the community to achieve this result.”