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Strong uplift in GCSE results for young people benefiting from Social Impact Bond scheme

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The first Social Impact Bond focused on early intervention to prevent young people becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) has exceeded its Government target for the number of low attainers achieving five A*-C grade GCSEs by more than 80%.

Social investors Big Society Capital and Impetus - The Private Equity Foundation (ImpetusPEF) have each invested £450,000 in ThinkForward, a programme working each year with 350 young people at risk of becoming NEET in East London. Educational outcomes are measured throughout the programme (attainment, behaviour and attendance) with the goal of preventing at least 80% of them from becoming NEET.

The programme aims to raise attainment for the group, with a target for over 30% of the young people to achieve five A*-C GCSEs. However this year 55% of the group achieved five A*-C GCSEs, significantly reducing their long-term risk of becoming NEET. In the model, social investors take all of the financial risk for the programme’s success but, if successful, the Department for Work and Pensions¹ (DWP) will pay back their investment with a small return². The maximum cost to DWP per young person will be £8,200 over five years, compared to the lifetime cost of NEETs estimated to be £97,000 per person (£45,000 in resource costs and £52,000 in public finance costs)³.

The ThinkForward programme, delivered by charity Tomorrow’s People, is currently operating in ten schools across the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington and will be starting in two further schools in September. ThinkForward places highly qualified coaches in schools to offer personalised on-going support, working with students to help them decide what they want to do when they finish school and to build the skills, contacts and confidence they need to achieve their ambition.

Early results from a second Social Impact Bond to prevent young people becoming NEET, being delivered in Merseyside by Triodos New Horizons, has achieved similarly positive results. Working with young people with complex issues, including learning disabilities, youth offending and living in care, the programme has exceeded both its GCSE: 24% of the young people achieved five A*-C GCSEs against a target of 5%, and a further 46% achieving at least one Level 1 qualification against a target of 35%.

Nick O’Donohoe, CEO of Big Society Capital, said:

“This year’s GCSE results are an encouraging indicator of how effective this programme is at supporting some of our most vulnerable young people into education and training. The model allows charities to deliver innovative preventative programmes that can deliver significant social benefits and cost savings, with social investors such as us taking the financial risk and Government only paying if it works. The success of the programme will mean that we will then be able to re-invest the money so that this, and similar programmes, can be scaled up.”

Kevin Munday, ThinkForward Programme Director, Impetus-PEF, said:

“It is a privilege to see our coaches work day in and day out, engaging and supporting young people to prepare for life beyond secondary school. Often the first step on the path to employment, before young people gain the qualifications they need, is actually to build the self-belief and motivation to achieve more. Big Society Capital and Impetus-PEF’s support of the ThinkForward programme allows us to focus our attention on the large numbers of young people facing a challenging transition from school into the world of work, empowering more young people to unlock their full potential. My aim is to extend the reach of ThinkForward so that we connect all those who need it with the world of work.”

Hannah (16) from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, and a participant on the ThinkForward programme, said:

“I missed quite a lot of lessons and, as I didn’t always get on well with my teachers, was also excluded from school. Through ThinkForward I got the extra support I needed to catch up. My coach arranged for me to get extra help on science and set up extra afterschool maths classes. My coach helped me to think about my goals for the future and how my behaviour was getting in the way. I’m expecting to get good grades in English and Maths, which I know are really important, and for science and drama, which I love. I’m going to do A-levels next year and would like to be a forensic psychologist in the future.”  

Last updated | 
26 August 2013