Teenagers' exam results boosted through scheme pairing them to work with small children

Teenagers at risk of dropping out of school have had their GCSE results boosted by being paired with a three to five-year-old

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The Independent Online

Looking after a three-year-old can help improve your exam results, it has emerged.

Teenagers at risk of dropping out of school have had their GCSE results boosted by being paired with a three to five-year-old so as to develop their self-confidence and sense of responsibility.

The innovative “Teens and Toddlers” project has helped more than 400 pupils this year considered to be danger of leaving school without any qualifications - by seconding them to nurseries to work with children.

One of them is 16-year-old Emily Mott, who was celebrating gaining at least a C grade in nine GCSE’s from her school, Royton and Crompton High School in Oldham, Lancashire.

Emily Mott with her friends, receiving their results (Asadour Guzelian / Guzelian Ltd)

Emily, one of 423 young people on the programme, said the results were “better than expected” and is now planning to go to college to study child-care.

During the project, she was seconded to a nursery for 18 weeks where she worked with a toddler who was learning English a second language.

“She was paired with a toddler who was learning English as a second language,” said Sam Marcus, a member of the Teens and Toddlers team.  “She was working a lot to develop communication skills and through that she developed her own confidence.”

Around one in three (35 per cent) of the young people who go on the project end up achieving the national benchmark of five top grade A* to C grades at GCSE despite a rebellious past - when they may have been in danger of being excluded from school and switching off education altogether.

“These young people haven’t been given anything like these responsibilities before - in some cases because of their behaviour,” said Michelle Farrell-Bell, regional director of the project.

“This is very positive work experience for them. It can start them back into the process where they re-engage with learning.

“They can say things [after they have been with the toddler]like ‘my toddler was really playing up today - shouting and stamping their feet’.  It shows them that by shouting and stamping their feet people won’t listen to them.”

After being allocated to the nursery at the age of 14, the pupils are giving monthly support - including - up to the day they start taking their GCSEs.

According to Ms Farrell-Bell, the scheme can also help cut down on teenage pregnancies as they see looking after a toddler can be hard work.

The scheme comes under the Department for Work and Pensions’ innovation fund and is supported by Big Society Capital, an independent financial institution which supports social projects.