HC Deb 31 October 2001 vol 373 cc709-10W
Ms Munn

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made in implementing the social exclusion unit's report on 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training. [9295]

Mr. Ivan Lewis

We are making excellent progress with implementing the social exclusion unit's report.

Fifteen ConneXions partnerships are currently operational, and 18 more partnerships have been invited to prepare business plans setting out how they will deliver the ConneXions service in their areas from April 2002. The service will be available across England by 2002–03. An independent report on the 13 ConneXions service pilots—which tested different aspects of the service—has shown that 80 per cent. of young people helped by personal advisers feel ConneXions has made a real difference to their future prospects.

The ConneXions card—which will offer rewards and incentives for participation in post—compulsory learning—is being trialled in a small number of schools and colleges in the north-east. Following completion of the trials, the card will be rolled out on a regional basis across the country, becoming available throughout England from autumn 2002.

Our education maintenance allowance (EMA) programme is having a positive effect on the lives of many young people. Around 100,000 young people have applied for an EMA to date in this academic year. Early evidence is encouraging: EMAs have produced a 5 percentage point increase in participation among the target group. Our EMA transport pilots and pilots for the homeless, teenage parents and people with disabilities are now in their second year of operation. Initial findings suggest that vulnerable young people are benefiting from EMAs.

In the "Schools: Delivering Success" White Paper, we set out our framework for a coherent phase of 14 to 19 learning. Key elements include tailored programmes of learning—offering more opportunities for vocational and work-related learning—through which young people could advance at their own pace. We are also looking at proposals for an overarching award covering challenging goals in formal qualifications, but in which other achievements—such as volunteering—might also be recognised.

We will be issuing a consultation document in the new year, which will set out our proposals for 14 to 19 learning in more detail.