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As a charity which provides support, training and advice to thousands of 14-19 year olds unable to achieve their full potential in mainstream school, we seek to use our experience and knowledge to influence changes to education policy.

Barnardo’s supported the Government’s decision to raise the staying on age in England from 16 to 18. However, ‘more of the same’ will not work for the many young people who leave school as soon as they can, still lacking the skills and confidence they will need for the workplace and adult life.

We are calling for far wider access to vocational courses, with more ‘hands-on’ learning and the opportunity to learn in a real work environment instead of a classroom. We also need better support for young people facing barriers to staying on, such as help with transport and childcare costs, and flexible approaches to learning.

Not present and not correct: understanding and preventing school exclusions - November 2010

Poor and disadvantaged young people, like those Barnardo's works with, are far more likely to be excluded from school than their better-off classmates. For many, bad behaviour in the classroom is a result of real difficulties outside school and exclusion does little to improve their behaviour.

Not present and not correct draws on Barnardo's experience of working with young people at risk of exclusion to present an in-depth, costed study of four models of early intervention and alternative provision which support young people to continue learning and manage their behaviour for the long term.

Download Not present and not correct: understanding and preventing school exclusions (PDF)

Unlocking the gates: Giving disadvantaged children a fairer deal in school admissions - August 2010

This report, tackles the issue of fair admissions to secondary schools in England. It draws on academic research and the experience of Barnardo’s Choice Advisers, to explore the ways in which our education system fails to provide a ‘level playing field’ for children born into disadvantage.

There has been much interest across the political divide in narrowing the achievement gap in education. However, school admissions have not been given prominence in this debate, despite the evidence that secondary schools in England are socially segregated and that social segregation drags down the achievement of disadvantaged children.

Download Unlocking the Gates: Giving Disadvantaged Children a Fairer Deal in School Admissions (PDF)

Not the End of the Story: supporting teenage mothers back into education - March 2010

Teen mothers attract little public sympathy and are often written off.  At an age when their peers are still in school or college, or taking their first steps into work, they risk being left behind - struggling to care for a baby on their own, dependent on benefits and constrained by a lack of child care.

This report shows that, while pregnancy presents real challenges for very young mothers, it should not mean the end of education or abandonment of ambitions for the future.

Learning from the experience of Barnardo's services and the young women they work with, the report shows how, with the right support, including suitable childcare and flexible courses, young mothers can succeed in education and improve their opportunities and the life chances of their babies.  

Download the Not the End of the Story Report(PDF)

Lost in transition: the urgent need to help young school leavers in the recession – March 2010

At last Autumn’s party conferences, Barnardo’s highlighted the urgent need to help over 200,000 young school leavers across the UK who were already trapped in unemployment.

Second Chances: Re-engaging young people in education and training - March 2009

Young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) are often portrayed as ‘idle’ or ‘feckless’, hanging around on street corners rather than getting a job.

Second Chances dispels this stereotype. 75 young people attending Barnardo’s services around the UK spoke about the real challenges they faced, as well as their aspirations.

Barnardo’s services work to unlock the potential and motivation of young people who have been labelled as ‘failures’ at school. Through vocational training and support services, Barnardo’s helps young people overcome barriers to education and training and achieve their ambitions.

School’s out, or is it? Staying on education or training

During Summer 2007 we conducted research with 30 young people from a Barnardo’s service in the North East of England, exploring their experiences of school. We asked why they left (or were excluded) and how they regained their motivation and got back into learning. We also made a DVD with them which we showed at the party political conferences in Autumn 2007.

Support our work for children in trouble with education