Department of Education

Viewing archives for young people

Ecorys, the Rees Centre at University of Oxford, and Ipsos MORI have been appointed by the Department for Education to explore the potential of a seminal study to independently research the needs, experiences and outcomes for children and young people leaving care on Adoption Orders (AOs) and Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs).

There is currently limited research around how these two routes to permanence affect children’s long-term outcomes as they progress into adolescence and adulthood. We hope to follow the lives of young people aged 12-21 growing up in adoption and special guardianship families.

The purpose is to help:

  • Assess the long-term outcomes for children growing up in adoption and special guardianship families;
  • Support improved outcomes for children by enhancing our understanding of what influences the support needs and outcomes for adoptive families and special guardianship families;
  • Understand the role of key stakeholders in supporting outcomes for previously looked after children, and the impact this has on their outcomes; and
  • Support improved decision making by LAs and courts on permanency options for children who cannot return home to live with their birth parents.

Over the next six months, we will conduct a feasibility study to explore how best to approach families and encourage involvement in a longitudinal study. We will consult with stakeholders from the adoption, Special Guardianship sector and families to help us design the research and make plans to pilot the next stage.

The final reporting is scheduled for 2028.

More information on the project can be found on the study’s project page.

Education is often one of the top priorities for those young people who arrive to England on their own from another country. Many have been through difficult journeys and find themselves separated from family, friends, and their home country, but we know that education provides a place for stability, for aspirations, and to make new friends.

The young people have aspirations to learn English to a high standard, finish college courses, and go to university. They have wide-ranging job aspirations from pilots to photographers. The other week, one 16-year old asylum-seeking boy explained,

“I want to be a nurse […] I have a grandmother, and when I was with her, she so nice. I was helpful to her. She’s very old. That is why I like older people, to help. I like that to do. […] I don’t want to learn only to get a job and get the money. [I want to learn] especially for my mind, for changing my experience.”

What educational provision is currently offered? 

So what educational provision is offered to unaccompanied migrant young people in England? We’ve written a new paper to be released in the Oxford Review of Education that explores this topic based on a research project funded by the OUP John Fell Fund. The statistics show us surprisingly little. We find that only half of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who have been in care for 12 or more months have a unique pupil number (tracking their educational provision in state funded schools). This may be because many of them go straight to English language programmes in colleges at the ages of 15-17 or be because they go to bespoke provision designed for unaccompanied migrant young people. No matter the reason, it means that it is difficult to understand what provision they do receive and how that provision meets their needs. In order to improve resource sharing, the National Association of Virtual School Heads is planning to host a repository of different educational projects for this population. Understanding educational provision serves as a basis for evaluation and for understanding outcomes.

What do these young people think about their education and aspirations?

Dr Ellie Ott is currently exploring this topic as part of a TORCH Humanities Knowledge Exchange Fellowship. The Fellowship is a partnership with the Oxfordshire Orientation Programme run by Key 2 and with the National Association of Virtual School Heads to share knowledge and share the voices of young people themselves. Although the Fellowship is on-going, the young people’s dedication towards learning and their aspirations for their future careers are already impressive.


This post is written by Dr Ellie Ott, Research Fellow at the Rees Centre and Dr Aoife O’Higgins, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Magdalen College and the Department of Experimental Psychology who completed her doctorate at the Rees Centre.  It is part of a series for the month of May on unaccompanied migrant young people in care.

Contact: Ellie.ott@education.ox.ac.uk


Related Rees Centre resources

Research: Educational provision

Research: Concepts of care

This report, from a recently completed research project lead by Associate Professor Maia Chankseliani (Comaparative and International Education), presents the results of the analysis of apprenticeship in eight countries: Australia, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, Germany, India, and South Africa.

The study used documentary analysis as its central methodological approach, citing, summarizing, synthesizing, analyzing and critically reflecting on existing literature and data produced by international organizations, government agencies, universities, and research institutions.

Apprenticeship plays an important role in supporting young people in the transition between school and work. Countries with large, well-functioning apprenticeship systems generally have lower youth unemployment rates because of the relatively smooth school-to-work transition mechanism that such a system ensures, as well as a smaller sized cohort of NEETs  (Not in Education, Employment, or Training).

This study makes a first-of-its kind attempt to compare participation in apprenticeship globally. Major problems are posed for international comparison by the unequal quantity and quality of data, both official and research, available. Data availability for apprenticeship internationally is more restricted and less reliable than for primary, secondary and tertiary (academic) education. In particular, comparable data are difficult to access, in part due to disparities in the definitions and measures employed by the international bodies when reporting on VET and apprenticeship. In addition, the terms used to define and refer to apprenticeship can disguise actual apprenticeship activity under a different name and vice versa.

There is a great diversity in apprenticeship organization, financing, institutional arrangements, and learning approaches in different countries. The apprentice demographic characteristics, as well as the differences in apprenticeship participation rates, indicate the varying degrees of appeal of apprenticeship to individuals and employers in the eight contexts. A fundamental assumption of the apprenticeship model is that there are benefits to both employers and individual learners.

For individuals, incentives to undertake apprenticeship may be linked to the process of learning as well as to the outcomes of that learning. The report examines two aspects of the process of learning that could motivate individuals to participate in apprenticeships – the appeal of learning through doing and the opportunities apprenticeships present for occupational socialization. The report also looks at two aspects of apprenticeship outcomes – the possibility of progression to employment or to additional education and learning while earning.

The analysis of incentives for employers shows a range of reasons related to their short-term interests and the needs of the production processes, technologies, and associated skills needs; longer-term benefits for the company’s staffing strategy; as well as the opportunity to make a contribution to the wider education and economic systems.

Despite all the factors that may serve as incentives for employers to offer apprenticeships, many firms seem to view apprenticeship arrangements as too costly, risky, and complex to justify the investment. Except for a few exceptions, such as Germany or Denmark, employers tend to be reluctant to invest in apprenticeship training, as they expect the broader E&T system – funded by individuals or the taxpayers – to produce appropriately-trained employees that they can hire using competitive pay strategies.

Firms are likely to invest more in recruitment and less in training if they are making decisions that are not coordinated with other firms. When firms are making decisions collectively, under the umbrella of chambers or associations, they are more likely to coordinate their skills investment strategies around collectively-beneficial outcomes linked to skills development as a common good, locally or nationally, for all those firms that are part of the given collective. Training apprentices is then viewed as a contribution to the ‘pool’ of talent for the sector. Countries that have not organically developed institutions for employer coordination and/or social partnership may face a relatively difficult task when seeking to expand apprenticeship provision. Such institutional structures, however, are historically determined within each country context, and are extremely difficult to construct from scratch.

Apprenticeship is often viewed as a panacea for a wide range of policy ills: unemployment, skills shortages and skills mismatch, social exclusion and economic problems. The most fundamental choice that currently confronts policy makers in countries with apprenticeship provision is the desired proportion (in terms of levels, occupations and learner volumes) of overall initial VET that apprenticeship is expected to cover. This choice is central because in some countries (including England and Australia) a policy discourse has developed wherein apprenticeship is sometimes seen as ‘the answer’ to what are often very vaguely or weakly specified policy issues.

Influencing the scale of policy expectations is central to achieving a realistic definition of who and what apprenticeship is for. In particular, what social and economic objectives is it assumed that apprenticeship is there to deliver, and how best is a balance between these two spheres of policy focus arrived at when there is a potential for tension between them? Any decision to afford priority to social inclusion objectives has far-reaching consequences, as there is then a potential tension between wanting apprenticeship to be seen (by employers, young people, parents and wider society) as a rigorous, high status route; and also wanting to try to deploy it as a mechanism for operationalising second chance, social inclusion goals for young people who have not flourished on the academic route and within mainstream schooling.

The fact that apprenticeship embraces learning within the workplace through a range of different on-the-job learning processes also means that apprenticeship policy needs to have a strong interest concerning the in-company capacity of the participating organisations to deliver high quality learning experiences. As a result, in most EU countries the national government offers support for training programs aimed at in-company trainers who are responsible for delivering the on-the-job elements of apprenticeship, and in some jurisdictions having appropriately trained trainers is a prerequisite before firms are allowed to take on apprentices. In other words, E&T policy and scrutiny extends into the firm and the workplace, which is a very different proposition from classroom based routes where policy need only be concerned with and regulate what happens within formalized educational settings.

See the final report here:

Chankseliani, M., Keep, E., & Wilde, S. (2017). People and policy: A comparative study of apprenticeship across eight national contexts (No. RR.9.2017). Doha, Qatar: World Innovation Summit for Education.

Article citing research lead by Associate Professor Maia Chankseliani (Comparative and International Education).

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