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Briefing for SIPs: The September Guarantee

The transition from compulsory education to further education or work-based training is a critical time for young people, and a time when too many ‘drop out’. That is why the 14–19 Implementation Plan (2005) made a commitment to offer, by the end of September, a suitable place in post-16 learning to all young people completing compulsory education. This is known as the September Guarantee.

The offer must meet the young person’s individual needs. That means it must be at the right level, geographical location, occupational sector and learning method. There should be a particular focus on young people who have additional needs, for example, those who regularly truant, have learning difficulties or disabilities, or have low aspirations and little support from family.

The September Guarantee was extended to 17-year-olds in 2008 to give those who did not continue their learning, or who had left or completed, a further opportunity. This means that all young people who reach the statutory school leaving age will be entitled to an offer under the Guarantee. Delivery of the Guarantee will also help to prepare for raising the participation age in 2013 (subject to the passage of legislation).

Local authorities (LAs) – through their Children’s Trusts and 14–19 Partnerships – have the lead strategic role in ensuring the Guarantee is delivered. Delivery on the ground will be through schools, Connexions Services and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

The role of schools

The foundations for successful transition will be laid throughout a young person’s secondary education, but there will need to be more targeted action during Year 11 and, where possible, before the young person leaves school. This leaves the summer period to work intensively with those still without an offer and gives enough time for additional provision to be put in place where necessary.

To achieve this, schools will need to:

  • promote the September Guarantee to staff working with Year 11 students, young people and their parents/carers
  • work with Connexions to give young people the impartial information, advice and guidance they need to make choices about their future pathway. Schools must also ensure that young people are aware of the support available to them from Connexions, the Education Maintenance Allowance, the local 14–19 prospectus and Connexions Direct
  • support young people as they apply for post-16 places and monitor the offers they receive. This will enable schools to identify early young people at risk of not having an offer, working with Connexions where appropriate to ensure that young people get the support they need
  • work with Connexions to ensure that Year 11 pupils are tracked throughout the Guarantee process to make sure that every young person receives the offer to which they are entitled. This will include:
    • making sure that Connexions providers have accurate information on Year 11 students in the school, and that contact details are up to date
    • establishing young people’s ‘intended destinations’. Connexions will record and share this information with the LA and LSC so that provision can be planned and commissioned to meet the needs of all young people
    • providing predicted GCSE results to LAs/Connexions to help plan the level of post-16 provision required
    • monitoring offers they receive, and sharing this information with Connexions
  • be clear with young people, when they leave school, what the arrangements are for accessing information, advice and guidance during the summer. DCSF recommended this year that schools write to young people and/or their parents/carers to set out these arrangements
  • take action on GCSE results days to confirm offers, and to offer additional support to those wishing to choose an alternative route in the light of their results.

Schools with sixth forms, and who have students enrolled on one-year courses, should follow a similar process to ensure that these young people have a further offer of learning in which to progress. This would also apply to young people enrolled on two-year courses who have indicated that they intend to leave at the end of the first year.

Monitoring delivery and effectiveness of the Guarantee

Connexions providers undertake a survey each year of the activity of young people who completed Year 11 that year. Many schools support this survey, for example, by passing on information they have about young people’s post-16 destinations.

Although the results of this survey are only published at LA level, the data is available at school level and it is normal practice for Connexions to pass the data to schools. This is important as it allows schools to assess their effectiveness in ensuring transition to post-16 activity, and to improve performance. The DCSF will make this information available to SIPs.

In addition, we are introducing a post-16 progression measure. The measure will show what proportion of young people completing Year 11 in the school participate in learning the year after they left compulsory education and go on to achieve level 2 and level 3 by age 19. We have provided the data to a sample of approximately 600 schools and all LAs and are working with them to test the quality of the data, its presentation and the helpfulness of the guidance we provide, before the data is made available to all schools.


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