1st Edition

Learning to Fail How Society Lets Young People Down

By Fran Abrams Copyright 2010
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    During a decade of relative prosperity from the mid-1990s onward, governments across the developed world failed to crack one major issue – youth unemployment. Even when economic growth was strong, one young person in 10 in the United Kingdom was neither working nor learning. As the boom ended, the number of young people dropping out after leaving school – already acknowledged to be too high - began to rise at an alarming rate. As governments face up to the prospect of a new generation on the dole, this book examines the root causes of the problem.

    By holding a light to the lives and attitudes of eight young people, their families, their teachers and their potential employers, this book will challenge much of what has been said about educational success and failure in the past 20 years. For two decades, policy makers largely assumed schools were the key to ensuring young people got the best possible start in life. Yet for many children the path to failure began well before their first day at school.

    Through the stories of these young people, this book reveals how marginalised young people are let down on every step of their journey. Growing up in areas where aspiration has died or barely ever existed, with parents who struggle to guide them on life in the 21st century, they are let down by schools where teachers underestimate them, by colleges and careers advisers who mislead them and by an employment market which has forgotten how to care or to nurture. Learning to Fail  goes behind the headlines about anti-social behaviour, drugs and teenage pregnancy to paint a picture of real lives and how they are affected by outside forces. It gives a voice to ordinary parents and youngsters so they can speak for themselves about what Britain needs to do to turn its teenage failures into a success story.

    @contents: Selected Contents:  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  PREFACE  The young people  INTRODUCTION  Yasmin  The numbers game  1: THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACES  How do places affect life chances?  Barnsley  The role of local networks  Tom  Cultures of exclusion  Colllyhurst  Ricky  The East End  Will  2: CHANGING CHANCES  The old days  The Dearne  Clinging to the past  Claire and her family  3: ASPIRATIONS  Home and family  What do parents expect?  Ashley  4: POVERTY AND WEALTH  Real or relative?  5: SCHOOL  Teenagers and the rejection of school  Underachievement  Ricky’s school  6: CHANGING FAMILIES  Iain Duncan Smith  Rachel  Attachment and uncertainty  Robbie  7: STREET LIFE  Criminal careers?  Antisocial behaviour?  8: MAKING CHOICES  Connexions  Wombwell High School  Unrealistic choices  Bridging the Gap – a missed opportunity?  Elvige  9: FURTHER TROUBLE  Information Gaps  David Willetts  Colleges – what are they for?  Lord Young, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships  Apprentices  Dropping Out  Yasmin  Lost opportunities  10: THE WORLD OF WORK  The employers’ view  The call centre  Workless Culture?  Benefit dependency  Will  Solutions  Rachel’s job  11: RACE MATTERS  Ray Lewis  Poor White boys  Broken Britain?  Will  12: THE DIFFERENCE FOR GIRLS  Motherhood and careers  Rachel  13: REACHING OUT  Long term problems, short term solutions  Outreach in Barnsley  14. CONCLUSIONS  Footnote - outcomes  BIBLIOGRAPHY


    Fran Abrams is an investigative journalist with 20 years’ experience of observing and reporting on education in the United Kingdom. She works regularly for the UK broadsheet newspapers and for the BBC, and lives in Suffolk.

    "This is a highly readable book with an uncomfortable message". - Tribune