The figures for 16-18 year old who are not in education, employment or training — NEETs, as they are termed — have risen over the previous year (8.1% now compared to 7.5% in 2010).
This must be good news for the coalition. NEETs are a fantastic opportunity for apportioning blame; if crime levels in particular area rise, find a correlation with NEET levels. If it is felt necessary to stir up the electorate by attacking the teaching profession (with its strong level of union activism) then suggest that this is all the fault of education and demand support for imminent reforms.
The fact that one of these reforms started out as a return to a two-tier system of examinations (as examined in the last issue of Solidarity) only proves that the government has no real interest in supporting or encouraging young people, merely in statistically reclassifying them out of existence. Inevitably it will lead to the creation of an educationally disempowered section of the working class.
Furthermore, these figures beg an urgent question; if it’s so crucial to ensure that young people remain in education, why remove EMA and therefore condemn the poorest and most vulnerable?
Young people need education and support; they have a right to both. School workers have a right to educate as they see fit, not according to a cynically derived agenda.
We must support them both by showing our solidarity, by proving that not everyone has written education off as nothing more important than a collection of bad statistics.