We have just learned that 1,100 Suffolk teenagers “have no work, training or college place to go to when they leave school“, that is, a staggering 1 in 13 are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). And although Suffolk County Council will be scrutinising NEET next week, it looks like the scrutiny will not be addressing one major identiable – and solvable – contributory factor: Suffolk County Council’s cut of the post 16-Explore card – halfway through this academic year.
This is odd – because the council has had plenty of warnings as to the impact of this cut – and not just via this blog. Back in February “Save the Explore Card” petitioner, Patrick Gillard warned them in person that the cut “will lead to less take-up of FE education because of difficulties of access. It will harm young people’s chances of going for job interviews and training. The proposed abolition is a retrograde step that threatens the very education and employment opportunities that our young people need in order to help us out of our current economic crisis.”
Last month, after handing in petitions with thousands of signatures, Mr Gillard and Otley College’s Greer Hill spoke eloquently on the subject at the SCC council meeting, as did the young people of Woodbridge’s Just 42 OTS club. I was one of several councillors who also spoke – all in support of reversing this damaging and short-sighted decision (see my blog entry ). However when we finished speaking, no outcome was reached, no decision minuted, no progress made: the petitioners may as well have been talking to a wall.
Yet Suffolk’s pig-headed adherence to this damaging cut seems to exist without thought of longterm financial and social implications for the county – or indeed any “joined up thinking” between those responsible for Education/Training, for Social Care, and for Transport.
Remember the deaf adder of the Psalms , who “stoppeth her ears, and will not hearken to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely?” You begin to wonder if the SCC Cabinet has taken that snake’s correspondence course.
Suffolk County Council: which part of the phrase “You got it wrong” can’t you hear?
Won’t these truly shocking NEET figures finally finally persuade you to change your minds and restore this invaluable card to the young people of Suffolk?