A ‘worrying picture’ has been given in a new report showing how young people from disadvantaged backgrounds see their future chances in life.
Teenagers from less affluent backgrounds in England were more likely to have a bleaker view of their prospects than their wealthier peers, according to the findings.
Almost 30% in households where the adults had never worked or were long-term unemployed said they ‘didn’t much have of a chance in life’, compared with just under 11% where parents were in managerial, administrative or professional roles.
In the most deprived areas, more than 20% of 16 and 17-year-olds had the same gloomy response, compared with just 10% in the most affluent locations.
The gap across household income, deprivation levels and parents’ qualifications was revealed in a report by the Office for National Statistics released yesterday.
Nick Harrison, chief executive of educational charity The Sutton Trust, told Metro.co.uk: ‘This research paints a worrying picture of the number of disadvantaged young people who feel their future options are limited by their background.
‘More needs to be done to ensure kids from lower-income households have as much chance to succeed in life as their better-off peers.
‘We want to see a renewed effort by the government to close the attainment gap in schools, for example by re-committing to the National Tutoring Programme over the long term in the forthcoming Autumn Statement.
‘Quality careers guidance is also crucial for many of these less-privileged young people, who may lack the advantages more affluent kids have to get advice on the possibilities open to them.’
The survey carried out between October 2021 and March last year shows a similar discrepancy between how Year 11 students from different backgrounds see their future academic prospects.
‘All young people must have same opportunities’
Teenagers from lower-income households were found to be far less likely to be planning to still be studying in two years’ time.
Where the income was £19,000 per annum or less, the number was under 45%, compared with more than 73% where it was £51,500 or more.
High achievers from disadvantaged backgrounds have previously told Metro.co.uk about some of the obstacles they have encountered on the way to attending Oxford university.
Daniel, 21, from Peterborough in the east of England, became the first member of his family to attend university. Speaking to Metro.co.uk earlier this year, he summed up the thoughts of some of his teachers as, ‘You’re not Oxbridge material, so don’t even think about it.’
Fiona, 20, from east London, told how she grew up as the child of Kosovan refugees and had thought that Oxford was ‘the stuff of myth’ despite excelling at school. Both Oxonians were supported with their applications and studies by the Zero Gravity social mobility tech company.
Fiona said: ‘It’s clear we must continue working to ensure all young people, regardless of background, have access to the same opportunities and feel optimistic about their futures.’
More than 98% of students who took part in the survey for the COVID Social Mobility and Opportunities study agreed that their future careers are important, which remained broadly consistent across different categories of households. Another common thread was hard work, which was identified as the key to success among 90% across the different groupings.
The study was carried out by The Sutton Trust, University College London and Kantar Public at a time when GCSEs were disrupted by the pandemic.
The government maintains that it has taken a number of measures to lift families out of poverty and raise the prospects of young people, including through providing work coaches and investing £3.2 million a year to improve apprenticeships advice in schools.
A spokesperson said: ‘The best route out of poverty is through work.
‘Empowering young people, no matter their background, to gain the skills they need to go on to further study or build successful careers is a top priority for this government.
‘As well as getting more 16 and 17-year-olds participating in education and apprenticeships, and expanding our Youth Offer to thousands more young people on Universal Credit, we’re also helping those who are struggling with around £3,300 in support per household.’
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