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Nacro responds: Level 2 attainment


The 2020-2021 Level 2 and 3 attainment statistics for young people aged 16-25 show that the number of 19-year-olds reaching Level 2 attainment (the equivalent of 5 good GCSEs) has fallen for the sixth consecutive year.

We continue to call on the Government to introduce a range of targeted support to help disadvantaged young people reach Level 2 qualifications, which provide vital workplace and life skills including numeracy, literacy, and digital skills. This can be achieved through the extension of existing Conservative policy – the Pupil Premium – into further education settings. The policy was initially introduced into the school system and for early years in 2011 to mitigate disadvantage. Pupil Premium funding stops at 16, even though barriers to learning for the most disadvantaged do not.

Key facts

  • 1 in 5 young people will not achieve the equivalent of five good GCSEs by the age of 19
  • 1 in 3 young people who have received free school meals will not achieve the equivalent of five good GCSEs by age 19
  • Level 2 attainment for those on free school meals has dropped by almost 10 percentage points since 2015
  • Further education remains an underfunded sector with further education colleges and sixth forms seeing the largest falls in per pupil funding of any sector in the education system since 2010/11.

Find out more about our Learn Without Limits campaign

Nacro comment

Campbell Robb, Nacro’s chief executive said: “If the Government is serious about levelling up, it must introduce specific, targeted support to help disadvantaged young people take their next step and fulfil their potential.

For the sixth year in a row, the number of young people achieving Level 2 attainment (the equivalent of five good GCSEs) by the age of 19 has fallen, with almost one in five not reaching this level. This leaves them at serious risk of being locked out of work, training and further education.

Today’s report also shows the situation for those on free school meals is even bleaker, with almost two in five not reaching this level by 19, meaning educational outcomes continue to be heavily dictated by a young person’s background. This is a national crisis, pure and simple.

The Government’s policy of funding free access to a range of Level 3 qualifications (A Level equivalent) is the right one. But the route map to getting there is wrong. Without putting in place the building blocks for people to gain Level 2 qualifications, many will be prevented from accessing these opportunities, further entrenching existing educational inequalities.”

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