WHAT DO WE KNOW?
Most (59%) children in the South West started their compulsory education in 2011 having achieved a good level of development during their Early Years Foundation stage, although only around half (49%) of children from the most deprived areas of the region had done so. Standards have improved in recent years - with the percentage of ‘achieving’ children rising by two percentage points between 2010 and 2011 (and three percentage points between 2009 and 2010). The ‘performance gap’ between the lowest and average performing children has narrowed marginally in the last two years.
The majority of young people make expected progress in Maths (64.5%) and English (72%) during their secondary schooling with most (57.5%) subsequently leaving school in with 5 or more GCSEs grade A*-C (including Maths and English) in 2010/2011. The proportion of children leaving school with this desired foundation of educational attainment has increased every year for (at least) the last five years and is two percentage points higher than in 2009/2010. Disparities, however, evident at the Early Years stage, persist throughout schooling so that boys (53%) are less likely to achieve than girls (61%) at this level.
The vast majority of young people decide to stay in full time education upon leaving school. In 2009, almost three-quarters (72%) of 17 year olds in the region were in full-time education. Participation rates have risen relatively swiftly in recent years - by 10 percentage points between 2004 and 2009 - with particularly fast growth recorded during 2008 and 2009. One in twelve (8%) 17 year olds in the South West were in workbased learning in 2009. This is unchanged on the previous two years. The number of young people starting a Government-sponsored Apprenticeship has not increased substantially in recent years (see Fig 4.1) although there has been considerable growth in the number of Apprenticeships started by learners aged between 19 and 24, and over 25 years old. The rapid increase in apprentices aged 25 and over has been a relatively recent phenomenon.
Connexions Service data suggests that a minority (5%) of the region’s 16-18 year olds were not in education, employment or training (NEET) in 2010/2011. This figure remained largely unchanged during the recession because more young people chose to remain in fulltime education. The proportion of NEETS varies across the region (Map overleaf) with the highest percentages in the largely urban local authority districts of Bristol (7.5%) and Plymouth (7%).
Figure 4.1: Apprenticeship Programme Starts in the South West by Age
Source: Supplementary tables to the FE and Skills Statistical First Release, the Data Service
Figure 4.2: Percentage of 16-18 year olds Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) 2010
Source: Connexions Service
Labour Force Survey data suggests that the
proportion of NEETS in the broader age group of 16-24 has increased in
the South West and England over the last decade (see Figure 4.3).
Figure 4.3: Percentage of 16-24 year olds NEET
Source: Labour Force Survey
Figure 4.4: Percentage of employees aged 16-59/64 participating in job-related training in the last 4 weeks
Source: Annual Population Survey
Less than one-half (47%) of young people aged 17-30 in England participated in Higher Education (HE) in 2009/2010 with girls (52%) substantially more likely to study at this level than boys (41%). The participation rate increased by one percentage point over the previous year with student numbers increasing marginally (by almost 4%) over the period. 21,050 young people in the South West started full time first degree courses in 2009/10, only marginally (0.5%) higher than the number starting in the previous year.
The vast majority (87%) were state educated and a minority (9%) were from a neighbourhood with a history of low-participation in Higher Education. More than one-quarter (28%) were from household with low socioeconomic status. The share of young entrants from lowparticipation neighbourhoods rose by two percentage points between 2008/9 and 2009/10.
HE Institutions located in the South West had 165,140 students in 2009/10. While student numbers increased on the previous year the rate of growth (3.9%) was slightly slower than that evident (4.4%) across England as a whole.
According to the NIACE adult learning survey for 2011, 44% of South West residents aged 17 and over who had finished full-time education were either currently learning or had participated in learning during the preceding three years. This compares to a national average of 39%.
The survey found that the level of - and patterns in - adult participation have changed little over the last 10 years with those most likely to learn including the young, those in the highest socioeconomic groups and those who had remained in education at 21.
The Annual Population Survey (APS) provides estimates of participation in job related training and, as such, uses a narrower definition of learning than the NIACE survey. According to the APS, in 2010 one-in-seven (14.5%) working age employees in the South West resident had trained in the last four weeks. Participation rates nationally are highest (one in five or more) for employees aged between 16 and 19; those working in the public administration, education and health sector; and those working in professional or personal service occupations.
More than one-third (34%) of South West residents aged 19 to 59/64 had a degree level qualification (or equivalent) or above in 2010; up from onequarter (26%) in 2001 and three percentage points higher than in 2009.
Despite this general upwards trajectory in the level of qualifications held by residents, a substantial minority (24%) either do not have any qualifications or hold qualifications below Level 2.
The profile of highest qualifications in the resident population varies considerably across local authority areas with residents of Torridge (36.5%) and Sedgemoor (31.5%) more than twice as likely as those in the South Hams (12%) to be poorly qualified (see Figure 4.5).
Figure 4.5: Proportion of People with a Highest Qualification Below NVQ 2, Quintiles
Source: DfE; Analysis: SLIM