The problem

Young people born into disadvantage face an uphill struggle from the start. Many fail at school and later are unable to find or keep jobs. All too often their situation is passed on to their own children – and so it continues. In the UK, this cycle has repeated for far too long – and we now risk losing the next generation of young people and their future contributions to society. We need to find a better way.

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There are 20 million 0-24 year olds in the UK. (ONS, 2015)
2.3 million of them are living a life of relative poverty (SMCPC, 2015 – pg 12)
and 1 million+ are living a life of persistent poverty (SMCPC, 2015 – pg 8)
and are eligible for and claiming free school meals. (DfE, 2016 – pg 6)
One in six children spend large parts of their lives living in households which are persistently poor – often those from families characterised by ill health and low skills. (SMCPC, 2015 – pg 8)


Before even starting school, there is a 15% attainment gap between children living in relative poverty and the majority. (DfE, 2015 – pg 7)
By age 11 the attainment gap is 21% between disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils. (DfE, 2015 –  pg 19)
43.1% of disadvantaged young people achieve 5 A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent, including English and maths) compared to 70.6% of their more advantaged peers. (DfE, 2017 – pg 19)
That’s an attainment gap of 27.4% by the time they reach 16. (DfE, 2017 – pg 19)
The most persistently disadvantaged children in London are over 10
months behind non-disadvantaged children by age 11 – a gap of 10.6 months. (Annual London Education Report, 2017 – pg 34)
The most persistently disadvantaged children in London are 12 months behind non-disadvantaged children by the age of 16, and this has barely changed since 2011. (Annual London Education Report, 2017 –  pg 35)
Of those who fail to achieve their English and maths GCSEs (or equivalent) the first time around, only 7% manage to catch up by the time they reach 19. (Impetus-PEF, 2016 – pg 8 & 9)
Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are around four times more likely to receive a permanent or fixed period exclusion than those who are not eligible  for FSM. Ofsted estimates that there are around 40,000 young people in some form of alternative provision. (DfE, 2016 – pg 5)
Of the 13.2% of secondary school pupils eligible for free school meals, only 22% accessed university, compared to 39% of non-free school meal pupils – and only 2% of them made it to a top tier university. (DfE, 2016)
The Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset shows that in January 2017 there was a 5% gap between disadvantaged students and their peers going onto a higher education institute, a 8% gap for top third HEIs in the UK and half the amount went onto Russell group universities. (DfE, 2017 – pg 25)


The risk of being NEET (not in education, employment or training) doubles for those who fail to achieve their GCSEs (or equivalent). (Youth Jobs Index, 2016)
There are 7 million 16-24 year olds in the UK. (Youth Jobs Index, 2016)
Our research shows 1.3 million of them are spending six months or longer NEET. (Youth Jobs Index, 2016)
For October to December 2016: there were 826,000 young people (aged 16 to 24) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training (NEET), a decrease of 31,000 from July to September 2016 and down 36,000 from a year earlier. (ONS, February 2017 –  pg 1)

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Get involved with Impetus-PEF and help transform the performance of innovative charities and social enterprises so they can help many more disadvantaged children and young people. You can contribute money and/or volunteer your professional skills to help break the cycle of poverty. Read more..

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