Growing up without a daily routine or structure such as regular bedtimes and set meal times can harm a young person’s school grades and overall wellbeing, warns The Trust's new report.

The Prince’s Trust Youth Index reveals how one in ten young people (10 per cent) feel their days "lacked structure and direction" while growing up, while those with lower school grades are more than twice as likely to claim this (26 per cent).

According to the research, which is based on interviews with 2,136 16-to-25-year-olds, more than a quarter of young people (27 per cent) claim they did not have a set bedtime while growing up. This increases to 39 per cent among those who left school with fewer than five A*-C grades at GCSE or Standard Grades Level 1-3.

Young people with poorer grades are also twice as likely as their peers to say they did not have regular meal times (30 per cent compared with 14 per cent).

The charity's fourth annual Youth Index - which gauges how content young people are across a range of areas from family life to physical health - shows a significantly lower index number for young people who claim to have “lacked structure and direction” while growing up than for their peers.

Martina Milburn, chief executive of youth charity The Prince’s Trust, says:

The absence of structure and routine in a young life can have a devastating impact. Without the right support, directionless teenagers can become lost young adults – unconfident, under-qualified and unemployed.

She continues, "Our in-school xl clubs give the hardest-to-reach young people intense, structured support – helping to prevent potential drop-outs and exclusions. Similarly, our Fairbridge programme builds self-esteem through one-to-one support outside the classroom."

The report, carried out by YouGov, shows how almost a third of young people (31 per cent) "always" or "often" feels down or depressed, with this increasing to almost half (48 per cent) among those with fewer than five A*-C grade GCSEs or Standard Grades Level 1-3.

One in three of those with lower qualifications (33 per cent) "always" or "often" feels rejected, compared to around one in five young people (22 per cent) overall.

Those with poorer qualifications also score a significantly lower index number than their peers, suggesting they are facing issues across a range of areas – from their employment to their relationships with friends and even their health.

Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, said:

The results of the Youth Index over the past four years can often be linked to larger issues in the wider world. Last year’s results showed the real-time effect the financial crisis had on young people and this year the research highlights an important link between educational attainment and wellbeing.

He continued, "By keeping young people engaged in and out of the classroom, through the Fairbridge programme, xl clubs and other schemes, The Prince’s Trust is helping to create a more resilient generation, equipped with crucial skills for work and life.”

According to the Youth Index, one in five young people (21 per cent) believe they did not receive the support they needed at school. This almost doubles to 40 per cent amongst those with poorer grades.


The research marks the launch of The Trust’s largest ever consultation with teachers and practitioners on The Prince’s Trust website, exploring the support they need to help the hardest-to-reach pupils. The charity will be presenting the findings of the consultation to Government later this year.

Download the report (pdf, 1mb)