Research round-up: October 2019

Written by: SecEd | Published:
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SecEd's research round-up for October 2019 includes studies into the challenges faced by young carers and the number of students leaving school without basic qualifications

Young carers

The largest ever study of young carers in Europe has revealed the stark impact that their care-giving responsibilities can have on mental and physical health as well as their education.

The Me-We project looked at the experiences of young carers across six European countries, including the UK, and is urging governmental action to provide better support for these young people.

The study, launched at the EU Parliament last month, estimates that across the UK, eight per cent of young people have caring responsibilities.

The study warns that 60 per cent of UK young carers report mental health problems. Furthermore, 30 per cent report physical health problems and 41 per cent report difficulties at school, including poor academic outcomes (22 per cent) and bullying (37 per cent).

The UK is praised for having “advanced recognition of young carers among public, policy-makers and professionals”. However, it warns that limited public sector funding and resources could be behind the increasing numbers of young carers, and is also preventing young carers from accessing mental health services.


Leaving unqualified

Nearly one in five 18-year-olds left education last year without basic qualifications.

A report by the children’s commissioner for England found that 98,799 school-leavers (18 per cent of the cohort) had not attained five “good” GCSEs or equivalent technical qualifications by the time they left school in 2018 – a 28 per cent increase since 2015.

Furthermore, almost half (45 per cent) of those with SEN failed to reach Level 2 attainment by the time they finished compulsory education in 2018, while 37 per cent of pupils on free school meals left school “without substantive qualifications”. Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield said the figures were “shameful”.

She added: “It is particularly unacceptable that children growing up in the poorest areas of the country and children with SEN are most likely to leave school without reaching basic levels of attainment.

“It should never be an acceptable part of the education system for thousands of children to leave with next to nothing.

“The government must urgently investigate why the progress that has been made over recent years in closing the attainment gap has stalled and is now going backwards and commit itself to halving over the next five years the number of children failing to gain a Level 2 qualification by the age of 19.”


Religious education

Half of academies without a religious character and 40 per cent of community schools are failing to meet their legal duties to offer religious education at key stage 4, research from the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) claims.

The law requires that state schools must teach RE to all pupils, whether they are studying for a GCSE in the subject or not.

The research involved almost 700 schools and found that in those where RE is an optional key stage 4 subject, 64 per cent of students in year 11 and 59 per cent in year 10 receive no RE. Furthermore, more than 80 per cent of schools plan to make no GCSE RS short course entries in 2018/19, which represents a decline of 50 per cent since 2012; 16 per cent reported no entries for the full course.

Chair of NATRE Ben Wood said that pupils needed access to RE and the “religious literacy they need and deserve to support them in our increasingly pluralistic society”.



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