Poor grades cause young to give up on ambitions

Poor exam results cause thousands of young people to abandon their ambitions. New Prince's Trust research shows that struggling school leavers need more vocational support.

Abandoned Ambitions?New research from The Prince's Trust, supported by HSBC, shows that one in six young people believes they will “end up on benefits”, and this increases to more than one in three among those leaving school with poor grades.

Young people with less than five GCSEs are almost twice as likely as their peers to believe that they will “never amount to anything” according to our new study, Abandoned Ambitions.

The Prince’s Trust is calling for more vocational support for those leaving school with few qualifications, to help them into jobs. Last year two-fifths of young people across England did not achieve five GCSEs graded A*-C, including English and maths.

Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said:

Thousands of young people’s ambitions are crushed by exam results each year. Many of these young people have faced problems at home or bullying at school, so their exam results don’t reflect their true potential.

She went on to say: “It is now more important than ever to invest in vocational support and training for young people who are not academically successful. Government, employers and charities must work together to get them into jobs. Without this, thousands will struggle to compete, leaving them hopeless and jobless.”
Abandoned Ambitions Infographic


Antonio Simoes, Head of HSBC in the UK, who supported the research, said:

We know that with the right support and encouragement young people can achieve their goals and fulfil their potential, regardless of their start in life.

He went on to say: "To support this, this summer we announced our new Opportunity Partnership, working with four UK youth charities, including The Prince’s Trust, to help 25,000 disadvantaged young people into education, training and work, enabling them to make a contribution to their family, community and wider society.”

The research, based on interviews with 2,342 16 to 25-year-olds, reveals that one in five young people claim they have “abandoned their ambitions” due to their poor qualifications.

It also shows that one in ten young people believes their exam results will “always” hold them back. This increases to a quarter among those who left school with poor grades.

Young people with few qualifications often face significant barriers to learning at home, according to the report.

Those who left school with few qualifications are twice as likely as their peers to say that they “struggled to concentrate on schoolwork due to family problems”  and that their “homelife was so stressful that they struggled to focus” . They are also significantly less likely to have had access to a computer, the internet or a quiet place to do their schoolwork at home .

Summer Sessions

This summer, The Prince’s Trust is running its Summer Sessions campaign, supported by HSBC, to inspire young people who are worried about exam results, struggling to find work or feeling hopeless about the future. Three in four young people on Prince’s Trust schemes move into work, education or training.

There was a live-streamed Youth Forum at 1pm on Friday 16th August. You can watch highlights of the event here

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Martin's story

"Most of my childhood was about surviving from day-to-day – I hardly ever thought about the future. I knew I could have done better at school, but I felt I didn’t stand a chance."

Find out how Martin turned his life around