Memorandum submitted by Catch 22
Catch22 welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation. Our response draws of the views of frontline Catch22 staff from across the country and highlights young people's experiences.
Our response is complemented by the response of the National Care Advisory Service's response which focuses specifically on provision for children and young people in and from care.
The Committee has invited views on the following points. Catch22 has addressed each of these points in detail and is happy and willing to provide more information on any of the following responses at a committee oral evidence session.
Strategies for the identification of young people at risk of falling into the "NEET" category
Across Catch22 services, a range of methods are used to identify which young people are at risk of becoming not in education, employment or training (NEET).
The majority of this work is done in partnership with other statutory and voluntary local providers as well as partner agencies who make referrals to our services, such as schools and Connexions. We also work closely with 14-19 Partnerships.
As well as making use of a number of established assessment tools such as Asset, Onset, and Basic Skills Assessment, we assess each individual with a view to identifying the risk factors often associated with a young person becoming NEET. These include poor educational attainment, low school attendance, school exclusion, attendance at a Pupil Referral Unit, teenage pregnancy, use of drugs and alcohol, currently or previously in care, young people with a disability or mental health issues, and involvement in crime and anti social behaviour. We also assess whether or not the young person has a special educational need that was not being supported, or not adequately supported, within the school environment.
Appendix 1 profiles a number of Catch22 services and specific examples of methods used by Catch22 services to identify young people who are at risk of becoming NEET.
Services and programmes to support those most at risk of becoming "NEET", and to reduce the numbers and address the needs of those who have become persistently "NEET"
Catch22 is committed to creating opportunities to help young people move into education, training or employment. Currently, over four in five young people who successfully complete Catch22 programmes move on into education, training or employment.
There are a number of elements within the Catch22 delivery model which are common to both NEET prevention work and work with young people who have become persistently NEET. Catch22 also provides accredited learning and training programmes. Some of the key elements are summarised below:
Structured key working
A Key Worker's role covers a wide range of tasks including listening to and talking with young people on a one to one basis, setting boundaries and goals, exploring ways to deal with their anger, mediating between them and their parents, peers, and school, showing them how to set up appointments and then attending with them and advocating on their behalf. Key Workers base their work on an agreed needs assessment with the young person which then leads to an agreed support plan, which is regularly reviewed. They co-create realistic and measurable action plans with young people. This distinctive approach is based on "stickability" with the young people we work with - rekindling trust and building a relationship based on the notion that our staff `will be there' for young people.
Structured group work
Catch22 has extensive experience of providing structured group work interventions with vulnerable young people. Many of our services provide a range of structured group based activities using a range of disciplines including arts and crafts, sport, music, team building, drama and performance arts. We are able to link young people's participation in these activities to the Youth Achievement Awards and use a range of other accreditation methods such as Open College Network (OCN). Structured group based activities and workshops have taken place in schools, youth centres and other community settings (including after school provision).
Life skills development
has developed a highly innovative life skills programme called `Path to
One of Catch22 core activities is providing mentoring programmes. We have developed a training programme for mentors and good practice guides, successfully developing and implementing mentoring programmes. The Catch22 mentoring programme trains mentors to the BTEC Level 3 qualification in mentoring and peer mentoring. Our mentors have extensive experience of working with young people (including siblings and peers) who are first time entrants to the youth justice system, looked after children and young people identified as being high risk of becoming vulnerable, of permanent exclusion or of dropping out of school and becoming a future NEET.
Appendix 1 outlines in more detail some specific examples of our work to support those who are most at risk of becoming NEET, and those who are already persistently NEET.
The effectiveness of the Government's NEET strategy
Catch22 believes that the Government needs to do more in addressing the needs of young people who are NEET or at risk of becoming NEET. The number of young people who are NEET has remained stubbornly high since the early 1990s and latest figures show that there are over a million 16-24 year olds not in education, training or employment. Furthermore, some groups of young people are particularly vulnerable to becoming NEET such as care leavers and teenage mothers; approximately 20,000 teenage mothers are NEET. Clearly, there is much more that needs to be done.
Young people who are at risk of becoming NEET, or who are already NEET, require enormous amounts of support over a long time period. The hardest to reach and most reluctant young people are not easily engaged. Catch22 feels strongly that the Government needs to work specifically with specialist agencies and providers who work with these groups, providing long term funding to enable them to establish and maintain intensive relationships with young people that need help the most.
Furthermore, significantly more work needs to focus on actively listening to the views of young people and then acting on their suggestions. Active engagement of young people is absolutely critical to ensuring that provision meets their requirements.
The Government's NEET strategy highlights three key areas for focus: careful tracking of young people who are NEET or at risk of becoming NEET, personalised guidance and support, and provision of a full range of courses to meet demands.
The factors which increase the likelihood of a young person becoming NEET are well known. It is often the case that a young person will have disengaged from mainstream education much earlier than 16 years old. It is vital that suitable provision of courses is available from a much younger age. If a young person has experienced negative educational experiences before the age of 16, then they are less like to engage post 16. Therefore, the alternative education models need to be properly designed and commissioned at a much earlier stage.
Read about how Catch22 Engage worked with Jack who was at risk of becoming NEET to help him re-engage in education in Appendix 2
Personalised guidance and support
Information, advice and guidance is absoutely crucial if young people are to fully participate in courses that meet their needs. The Government's NEET strategy proposes an online prospectus for 14-19 year olds. While Catch22 welcomes a wide variation in the available formats of information for this age group it is important to recognise that not all young people will be able to access the internet. Therefore, an online prospectus must be supplemented by practicioners targeted towards working with vulnerable and hard to reach young people to ensure that they are fully aware of their options.
Unfortunately, the quality and effectiveness of Connexions locally is wholly dependent on the strength of the local Connexions partnership - leading to a postcode lottery for young people looking for support.
Read about how Catch22 Engage worked with Ben to help him decide on what was best for him after leaving school at 16 in Appendix 2.
Provision of a full range of courses
In order to keep a young person engaged in education, training or employment, a placement must meet their needs and support them to develop the skills required to succeed in their chosen career. It is unacceptable that some young people will not be able to access their chosen option because of local variation in provision of courses and opportunities. Young people consulted by Catch22 are absolutely clear that the range of activities and education should be as broad as possible. To continue to engage young people, the Government has to look well beyond the school gate.
Catch22 welcomes the recent reforms through the Education and Skills Act which have helped by widening choice and an array of progression for young people. The focus on employers and work experience, shadowing, and apprenticeships has also been positive. Likewise, the focus on enterprise and entrepreneurialism is also positive. Catch22 was also encourgaed by the Back on Track White paper which will hopefully start to remove some of the stigma currently attached to alternative education.
However, going forward the challenge remains in how non-School based learning is resourced and delivered in the future. From 2010, 14-19 Partnerships will have more influence and resources, however we are extremely concerned that they will simply continue to fund the typical training provider and Further Education College type of provision. Some young people will require significantly more support than these providers are able to offer. The challenge will be whether providers are supported to do the 'pastoral' care element to learning. This element is absolutely crucial in keeping young people engaged.
Recent initiatives such as the September Guarantee for all 16 and 17 year olds are extremely welcome, but we are very concerned that these initiatives will fail young people who need more support. It is vital to ensure that placements contribute to young people's development. We know that all too often some further eduction providers accept young people for courses that are unsuitable and which don't offer sufficient support, in order to attract funding. As a result, young people with unmet support needs often drop out mid-way through their course, damaging their aspirations and cementing their negative perceptions of learning.
Read about how Catch22 Humberside Young People Floating Support supported Linda to help her remain in education and complete her A-levels in Appendix 2.
As well as ensuring that young people have access to a wide provision of courses, it is important that they are able to make a choice which is not coloured by financial incentives, yet for many young people that Catch22 supports, access to financial support may be one of the main barriers to participation.
Currently, college, apprenticeships, and work-based learning all attract different levels of financial support. For many young people, their choice will not be divorced from this factor and they may end up choosing a pathway which has the greatest financial incentive rather than what matches their interests and skills. This is extremely worrying.
The likely impact of raising the participation age on strategies for addressing the needs of young people not in education, employment or training
The raising of the participation age will have a wide ranging impact on current strategies to reduce the number of young people who are NEET. Catch22 would like to draw the attention of the committee to a number of issues which we are most concerned about.
Appropriateness of ETE
Catch22 is concerned that when the participation age is increased, a large number of young people will end up on courses or training which are not appropriate. This may be for a number of reasons, including but not exclusively, because:
· their course of choice is not available in their local area
· they have not been provided with adequate or sufficient information, advice and guidance, or
· they may not be able to afford to follow the path of their choice because of financial constraints and variations in level of financial support.
The ongoing ramifications of a young person taking part in inappropriate training or education are severe for both the young person, the community and the economy as a whole. The young person may not complete their course, increasing the number of young people who are dropping out of education and training and running counter to the government's aspiration of a more highly skilled workforce. The knock-on effect on the young person may lead to reduced aspirations and a reinforcement of any negative associations with work and education.
Currently, some young people are incentivised to remain in education post-16 through the Education and Maintenance Allowance (EMA) - a benefit conditional on attendance. The EMA has undoubtedly increased the number of young people participating in education. However, there are a number of administrative problems within the system which sometimes leads to young people being left without financial support, and having to drop out of education or training in order to move into work and earn money. This year, a number of young people from Catch22 have experienced difficulties with their EMA. These problems must be dealt with to ensure that young people can rely on this form of financial suport when making decisions about which pathway to follow.
Read about how John and Jenny have struggled with their Education and Maintenance Allowance in Appendix 2.
When the participation age is increased, there are some important questions around the purpose of the EMA, yet it is important not to forget that many young people will continue to require financial support. Those who are living independently at an early age may need particular support with the costs of books or other course materials, in addition to transport. For those living with families on low income the overall impact on family finances should be considered. In some instances young people have been discouraged from taking part in education, in favour of 'earning their keep' by bringing a wage into the household. Catch22 would like to draw the committee's attention to Catch22's response to the cross-governmental review of financial support for 16-18 year olds which it will be submitting on 18 December 2009.
Catch22 is also extremely concerned about recent government announcements to scrap the EMA bonus scheme . The evaluation evidence for the EMA bonus scheme found that around two-thirds of EMA recipients questioned agreed that the EMA bonus system made them work harder and the same proportion said they attended more lessons because of the EMA attendance bonus rule. Furthermore, the young people who Catch22 works with tell us that EMA payments and bonuses are an important part of what allows them to continue in further education. As such, Catch22 would urge the Government to rethink this decision.
Emotional and practical support
The raising of the participation age will affect services that are currently only funded to support young people up until the age of 16 but whom will then require ongoing emotional and practical support until the age of 18 to stay in ETE. It is unlikely that mainstream providers such as colleges will be able to provide the intensive level of support that some young people need - for example young people with mental health or anger management problems - and as such it is vital that specialist services are funded to work with young people up until the age of 18 to enable them to maintain their ETE placement. Catch22 is concerned that unless young people's support needs are addressed, we may see a higher number of young people absconding, or becoming excluded from school if the provision that is available does not meet their needs.
The opportunities and future prospects in education, training and employment for 16-18 year olds
Catch22 believes that the opportunities and future prospects in ETE for 16-18 year olds have enormous potential to be extremely positive for young people. However, there are a number of serious concerns. Catch22 feels that for young people with high support needs, the opportunities will be limited, compared to those who are well supported by their family and community. The voluntary sector, which has the width and depth of experience of working with hard to reach young people, are well placed to ensure that young people remain in appropriate ETE and are supported with their learning needs.
As such, it is vital that the Government continue to work closely with the voluntary sector. We have a role to play in providing smaller, localised opportunities for learning and programmes which work to re-engage young people into a learning and skill-building environment. Programmes such as these, as well as training opportunities, apprenticeships and vocational skills courses will be crucial for keeping young people engaged. We have a positive opportunity in that we know how to help young people to gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in their chosen career path. The challenge is having the resources available to deliever the comprehensive skills training and support that these young people so desperately need.
Finally, there is a serious concern over the apparent lack of job opportunities for young people who have recently completed education or training courses. Clearly this is exacerbated by the current economic climate where vocational job opportunities are no longer as readily available as they were previously. Catch22 support workers tell us that some "young people feel that there is no point in continuing with training and education as their opportunity for employment is bleak. Many are asked to find their own placements when gaining apprenticeships only to be told that there are none available".
Whilst Catch22 welcomes government job guarantee initiatives for this age group, we are concerned that this will not lead to real jobs for all young people - jobs which are appropriate to their needs and offer real career progression as well as the opportunity to move off benefits and be able to financially support themselves and their families.
Catch22 welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation. Our response draws of the views of frontline Catch22 staff from across the country and highlights young people's experiences. The key points from our response are as follows:
· Catch22 uses a number of different methods to identify young people who are at risk of becoming NEET. As well as making use of a number of established assessment tools, we assess each individual with a view to identifying the risk factors often associated with a young person becoming NEET.
· Catch22 works with both young people who are at risk of becoming NEET, and those who are already NEET. Key elements of the Catch22 delivery model are common to both groups and include examples such as structured key working, structured group work, life skills development, and peer mentoring.
· Catch22 believes that the Government needs to do more to address the needs of young people who are NEET or at risk of becoming NEET. The Government's strategy is a step in the right direction, but the stubbornly high numbers of young people who are NEET indicates that there is much more to be done.
· Catch22 supports the decision to raise the participation age, yet has some serious concerns about the impact this will have on current strategies to work with young people who are NEET. This includes concerns around the appropriateness of education, training and employment; financial support; and emotional and practical support.
· Catch22 is concerned that any future prospects and opportunities for all young people in education, training and employment are threatened by a lack of specialist and intensive support for those young people who are hard to reach. The voluntary sector, which has the width and depth of experience of working with hard to reach young people, is well placed to ensure that young people remain in appropriate ETE and are supported with their learning needs.
Catch22 is happy and willing to provide to provide more information on any of the points made in this response at a committee oral evidence session.
Appendix 1: Specific examples of Catch22's work in identifying young people who are at risk of becoming NEET and our work in supporting this group and those who are already persistently NEET.
Catch22 Lawrence Weston Youth Inclusion Programme (YIP) uses a multi-agency referral method (as outlined in the Youth Justice Board Guidance for YIPs) to identify and target young people at risk of social exclusion. Although the main focus of the YIP referral method is likelihood of the young person being involved in offending behaviour, in our experience these young people are also at risk of NEET due to the variety of social issues they are experiencing in their lives.
This project runs a 'Good Attendance Project' in partnership with local secondary schools. This is a 14-week programme targeting young people with attendance issues (60 per cent - 80 per cent attendance rates) in Year 9 who are at risk of becoming NEET. The programme is accredited through the Youth Achievement Awards and focuses on the main barriers to attendance. In terms of young people on the YIP project, each is assigned with a key-worker whose main role is to reduce the risk factors in the young people's lives and increase the protective factors, in order to decrease their likelihood of social exclusion. This often includes intensive support to the young person and their family in terms of accessing services in order to ensure the young person is able to achieve within educational settings. Many of the young people referred to the YIP will have long standing educational needs that haven't been addressed (for example Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, anger management problems and literacy problems). The YIP also advocates for young people and their families, and ensures that local educational provisions work within the law in order to ensure that socially excluded young people receive fair and equal access to support and resources.
Kent identifies young people who are in care and care leavers who are at risk
of becoming NEET via a pathway planning process, held every 6 months, which the
young person and their workers and carers attend. This project provides a number of different activities and
forms of support for young people at risk of becoming NEET. This includes a
young person's allocated worker looking at all of the available options and the
allocation of a 16plus Connexions worker who assists in job search applications
to college and training providers. They also support young people with
preparation for interviews and CV writing courses. Within each college in
Catch22 Humberside Young People Floating Support
Catch22 Humberside Young People Floating Support provides an intensive floating 'person centred' support package where we visit young people who are at risk of becoming NEET 2-3 times a week in their own homes. A section on the support plan covers education, training and employment (ETE) needs along with aims, objectives, progress and outcomes. As the support aims are reviewed upon every visit, any issues or barriers to engaging in ETE activities are identified at an early stage within the support plan and addressed accordingly. By working closely with Connexions, lone parent workers and various local training providers, Catch22 ensures that young people are being adequately supported whilst participating in ETE and that the ETE activities are suited to their needs. Staff will regularly advocate on the young peoples behalf talking to tutors, trainers and employers as often the young people do not feel confident in expressing their needs or feel embarrassed asking for additional support.
Catch22 Kings Norton Positive Futures
Catch22 Kings Norton Positive Futures has, in conjunction with a local provider and the high school, piloted a further development of our Family Group Conferencing model. This involves the whole family in the support of young people who are likely to become NEET. This approach aims to address a number of issues within families, including attitudes to education and employment in general. They also work to signpost persistently NEET young people in the local area to any training/educational opportunity in the area, managed and delivered by ourselves or other agencies.
Catch22 Engage works with 16 year olds who are still in school but in danger of dropping out before completing their GCSEs. For example, last year they worked with a group of six young people identified by the school. The project worker delivered group work sessions to these young people for four weeks looking at the consequences of leaving school early with no qualifications. All the young people re-engaged with school after this period of work and have all gone on to positive progressions, two have started college and four have started our Catch22 E2E programme. The E2E programme is a 22-week programme to re-engage young people who are NEET at Key Stage 4. The programme comprises a comprehensive assessment and concentrates on supporting the young people to address the barriers to their learning and progression.
Catch22 Leicestershire offers a seven week, seven-stage programme of group work, aimed at raising aspirations, confidence and independent living skills. This is tailor-made to the group, depending on the biggest risks, e.g. teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, offending and so forth. A number of materials are chosen to best address the most prominent areas of need. This group work (catering to just four to six 16-19year olds in the County at a time) aims to be fun, informal and informative, paying attention to learner styles by using visual, audio, and kinaesthetic methods and by openly sharing progress and difficulties with affiliated agencies, organisations and parents'/ carers where appropriate. By using a multi-agency approach and by signposting, this programme aims to reintegrate young people into education, employment or training in a positive way.
Appendix 2: Young people's stories of working with Catch22
Careful tracking: Jack's story
Catch22 Engage works with young people who are at risk of becoming NEET. 'Jack' joined Catch22 Engage in Spring 2009 for two 2 weeks.
Jack hadn't been attending school regularly since Year 7. He lived at home in a large family and had a large amount of responsibility at home. As a result he was often late for school or missed entire days. He had also witnessed the arrest of both his younger and elder brothers which had left him feeling stressed and suffering from depression and alopecia. This had affected his confidence and self-esteem which then affected his interaction with other peers at school. Jack also had poor attainment at school as a result of missing so many lessons.
Jack attended 30 hours over four days of group work sessions which included an initial assessment, reviews and an exit interview. The course also included literacy and numeracy assessments to help identify Jack's specific needs, a visit to an outdoor pursuits centre to help build confidence and teamwork skills, drugs awareness and sexual health sessions, and an accredited British Safety Council Health and Safety at Work course (level 1).
After attending Catch22 Engage, Jack felt that his confidence had increased and he felt more comfortable attending school. Feedback from his school has been good and Jack planned to take all of his GCSE exams in the summer. During the summer holidays, he also planned to attend Catch22's E2E course which would give him an even stronger foundation with which to go onto college with in September where Jack wants to do a construction course.
Jack told us; "I really enjoyed the course at Catch22...We were treated like adults and no one judged us...I would recommend the course to other young people like me"
Personalised guidance and support: Ben's story
Ben was referred to Catch22 Engage by the pupil referral unit (PRU) that he was attending. Ben is an only child who lives with his mother and grandmother, both of whom are seriously ill. Both his father and his grandfather have previously passed away and Ben was responsible for caring for both his mother and his grandmother, running errands and being the 'man of the house'. Ben felt isolated from other children his age and often said that he had nothing in common with them.
Staff at Ben's PRU were concerned that he wouldn't move into further education and training unless he was supported by someone who could guide and advise him on his options as well as work through some personal issues that would hold him back from integrating into college or other training. They were concerned that although Ben had been doing well in the supported, well staffed, environment of the Pupil Referral Service, left to focus on his next steps on his own, he was at risk of 'falling between the cracks' and become NEET.
Catch22 met regularly with Ben for 2 hour sessions. Ben valued the opportunity to be listened to and having the space and time to work through issues which he was finding confusing and difficult. The worker spent time discussing Ben's options for further education and training, including looking into apprenticeship schemes where he could learn on the job. Ben was interested in doing construction or being an electrician. Ben has decided to start college in September 2010 and the worker has helped Ben to put together an action plan for the interim year which includes helping his mother, working on his mental health problems with a CAMHS practitioner, looking more thoroughly into courses on offer to him, and preparing him for the transition into college. Ben is currently considering more options for study such as business studies. Catch22 will continue to support Ben over the coming year.
Provision of a full range of courses - adequate support to help young people to remain in education: Linda's story
Linda was referred to Catch22 Humberside Young People Floating Support by Hull City Council. Linda was studying A-levels at College but was very close to losing her place due to lack of attendance and chaotic behaviour. At that time, she was drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking cannabis and having unprotected sex with her partner. Linda was also self harming and was suffering from low self esteem.
Linda had been awarded a flat due to being homeless and had never lived independently before. She had been asked to leave home as the relationship between her and her mother had completely broken down.
Catch22 helped Linda to settle into her flat and we made visits to the local family planning clinic to discuss contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. We also discussed at length binge drinking and smoking cannabis and how these issues were affecting her life. Following this discussion and some further research, Linda realised that she would have to change her lifestyle in order to achieve a better life and her goal of pursuing a career.
A referral for family therapy was made so that Linda and her mum could get some professional advice to help their relationship. She was also referred to a counselling service which greatly improved her self esteem and confidence and she realised that she did not need to drink as much or smoke cannabis. She also stopped self harming and began talking about things more.
Linda and a member of Catch22 staff attended numerous meetings at college and meetings with her mum. She received a lot of advice and guidance which she took onboard. Linda's attendance at college improved significantly and after discussions with the head teacher, everyone agreed that Linda would benefit from a student support officer. This has helped Linda to focus on her work which also significantly improved.
has learnt that Linda has recently passed her A-levels with ease and was due to
start a social work degree at
Adequate financial support: John and Jenny's stories
at Catch22 in
'Jenny', a care leaver at Catch22 South East Training, applied for EMA in July for a course that had started in June. Jenny received a set of forms and a letter stating that they believed she had applied for the wrong academic year as they thought she was starting her course in September 2009. Catch22 sent a letter and another application clearly stating her start date. In a recent follow up phone call, Jenny was told that they hadn't received her application. Jenny is currently owed nine weeks EMA - a total of £270.
 Catch22, 2009. Performance Indicator report Quarter 2 2009/10 (1 July 2009 - 30 September 2009). Performance Indicator 8: Percentage of service users who have successfully completed their programme and move into ETE upon exit from the Catch22 service
 DCSF, 2009. NEET Statistics - Quarterly Brief. November 2009. Table 1: Not in Employment, Education, or Training (NEET). Data series: NEET Quarterly LFS series.
Available online at: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/STR/d000890/NEETQtrBriefQ32009.pdf
 DCSF, 2008. Reducing the proportion of 16-18 year olds NEET: The Strategy.
 Rainer, 2008, Raising Expectations: Rainer Consultation Response
 Learning and Skills Council, 2007. Evaluation of the EMA National Roll-out - Final Report: Year 1 evaluation and measurement of impact on participation and progress towards LSC targets