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Poor mental health, anxiety, and cost of living among causes for Suffolk teenagers leaving school, report shows

Poor mental health, anxiety, and cost of living pressures are among the causes leading teenagers to leave school and training, a report has shown.

New data on the number of teenagers finding themselves not in education, employment or training (NEET) is set to be discussed during the county council’s education and children’s services scrutiny committee meeting next Thursday.

The data shows a worsening picture for Suffolk with 4.83 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds finding themselves NEET in 2023/24 compared to 3.5 per cent five years ago — an increase of over 275 young people.

Endeavour House. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS
Endeavour House. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS

Similarly, the proportion of young people in learning has decreased to 90.1 per cent from 92.54 per cent in 2020/21.

The report states the continued rise in NEET figures is due to an increasing ‘complexity of need’ represented by an increase in the numbers of young people with an education, health, and care plan (EHCP) or receiving SEND support.

At the same time, the data also shows an increase in the number of pupils who are severely absent in the final two years of mandatory education — reasons for this in the report include poor mental health, high anxiety, poor transport, and financial pressures.

Some young people, the report states, even have no idea what they want to do.

Despite several county council schemes in partnership with schools attempting to tackle this increase, the report goes on to say resources can’t match the growth in demand — some of the available services have also been placed under review as part of the cost savings the council has had to make to balance the books.