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Vulnerable young people could become disengaged from post-16 education, training, and employment without the continued support of a lead worker

A REPORT published today by Estyn evaluates the effectiveness and impact of the lead worker role in assisting at-risk young people through their transition into post-16 education, training, or employment.  

Where it works well, Estyn’s report highlights that this role can be a consistent and reliable presence, providing personalised support for the most at-risk young people to help them remain in, or to enter education, training, or employment. Estyn’s report however highlights that young people’s needs are increasingly complex and leaders and managers in local authorities faced challenges in meeting the scale of need and assessing the type of support required.   

Local collaboration to support the lead worker role varied, with the best cases involving strong representation from relevant agencies and leaders committing to information and data sharing. However, in many cases there were challenges due to anxieties and a lack of understanding about what personal information about young people’s needs and background could and could not be shared.  

Owen Evans, Chief Inspector says: “The lead worker role is intended to provide a consistent support service to at-risk young people as they enter post-16 education, training, or employment. We are aware that both referrals and the complexity of needs are increasing but young people need more continuity in the support they receive. 

“Educational bodies must develop ways to measure the success of their work to prevent young people becoming disengaged from education, employment, or training (EET). Better data sharing about the circumstances of individual young people to facilitate stronger collaboration between all partners, including education and training providers, will enable young people to receive more relevant and timely support. 

“We recommend that improvements be made to post-16 transition support by ensuring continuity of a young person’s lead worker until 31st January following a young person’s move into their post-16 destination, whether this is in school, at college, with a training provider, or employment.”  

Janine Bennett, author of the report, says: “In a young person’s life, the lead worker often serves as the only consistent and reliable presence. Our research shows that they played a pivotal role in providing young people with personalised support in relation to their current situation and accessing progression opportunities.

“Our report found however that whilst transition activities into post-16 colleges were typically well-structured, collaboration between post-16 providers and lead workers was often lacking once a young person enrolled, with many training providers being unaware of the lead worker role and its benefits.” 

This report is based on evidence gathered through a series of visits to eleven local authorities, nine secondary schools, five colleges, five training providers, and the Careers Wales teams. The report brings together insights, examples of effective practice and several recommendations.