This is the second in a series of publications using two large DCSF surveys, the LSYPE and YCS. The previous publication 'Youth Cohort Study & Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 16 year olds: England 2007' was published in June 2008 and covered the period 2004 to 2007. The current publication also updates a regular series of Statistical First Releases (SFRs) which has, since 1985, been based on the YCS.

This publication brings together detailed survey information on family environment, attitudes, risky behaviours, engagement, and post-16 participation with administrative data on academic attainment. Data from previous waves of LSYPE and YCS, in some cases going back to when the young people were in compulsory education, are used to inform outcomes from the 2008 survey when the young people were of academic age 17 and their paths through life were beginning to diverge.

Key Messages: Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 17 year olds: England 2008

How Young People View Society
Young people were asked a range of questions about their views of society, about how they are treated, and their political engagement. Young people mostly agreed that being British was important to them (72%). Those from Pakistani and Indian backgrounds were most likely to agree with this statement (80% and 77%) followed closely by White young people (72%), while Black African and Caribbean young people were least likely to agree (63% and 62%). Young people of Asian origin were more positive about fairness and equality in British society than White, Black and Mixed Race young people.

Half of young people were strongly engaged with politics, rating their chances of voting in the next general election at 7 out of 10 or higher. Young people who felt that people like themselves were fairly treated by the Government and high academic attainers were most likely to intend to vote. Young people who felt very unfairly treated were polarized between those who felt it was very likely that they would vote and those who thought it very unlikely.

Safety, Carrying Knives and Bullying
Young people living in more deprived areas were less likely to feel safe when out and about on the streets, although they had not themselves experienced significantly more violence or threatening behaviour than others. Just over one in twenty young people, mostly males, reported having carried a knife when out of the house in the last year. For males, feeling unsafe on the streets was associated with knife carrying, although this was not the case for females.

At 16, verbal bullying was reported more often by females, whereas being a victim of threats, violence or mugging was more common for males.

Caring Responsibilities
By the age 17, 27% of young people had some kind of caring responsibility. 3% had children of their own which meant that childcare was an issue for them, with grandparents being the most commonly used form of childcare (by 37% of young mothers). There are large differences across ethnic groups in the proportions of young people with caring responsibilities. For example, young people of Black and Pakistani ethnic origin were the groups most likely to be regularly taking care of children (other than their own) aged under 14, both within their own home and outside their own home.

Attainment and Main Activity at age 17
Groups of young people who were less likely to have gained Level 2 qualifications by the age of 16 (e.g. males, persistent truants, young people from lower social class backgrounds, those with lower qualified parents, and those with disabilities) were less likely to have gone on and achieved it by the age of 17. An exception to this rule was Black African and Black Caribbean young people who caught up to some extent by the age of 17.

Other outcomes at age 17 tend to reflect what we had seen at age 16; so that those who were in education or training at age 16 were least likely to be NEET (Not in Education, Training or Employment) at 17. The proportion who were NEET was strongly associated with social class, from 3% of those from a professional parental background to 14% of those whose parents were in routine occupations. Those who were more likely to be NEET at a certain point in time also spent longer being NEET; for example, 28% of young people with no qualifications had spent at least a year NEET by age 17/18.

Taking up Apprenticeships
At age 14/15 38% of young people had heard of Apprenticeships. However, the majority (71%) of those who had spoken to someone about Apprenticeships at that age thought it quite likely they would try for one after leaving school. Almost a third (30%) of those advised by professional careers advisors to pursue the Apprenticeship or training route had done so within the next 2 years.

Higher Education
There is a well know gap in HE participation by social class which is reflected in young people's intentions to apply for HE when asked in Years 9, 10 and 11. There is a consistent gap of 20 percentage points or more between the higher and lower socio-economic groups in the proportions intending to apply. Three quarters of those who thought they were very likely to apply for HE in Year 11, and went on to gain 5 GCSEs at A*-C went on to apply for HE in Year 13.

Figures in table 5.1.1 were updated on 19 June 2012.