A NEET Ending: How Adult and Community Learning supports young people who are Not in Employment, Education or Training

  • Patricia Carrington

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Marginalised young people who are often at risk of being Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) can face additional barriers on their journey of development. As such, education can play a very real role in facilitating their wider learning and reducing their chances of being long term NEET. It is with this in mind, that this study therefore challenges the traditional notion of only viewing educational success as academic achievement and engages with a broadened notion of achievement by exploring and detailing an Individual’s Distance Travelled (IDT).

This research undertaken in an Adult and Community Learning (ACL) College in which I am the Principal, provides an insight into a Step-up course that was run by the ACL College, in a department specifically designed to work with marginalised young people who are at risk of becoming NEET.

Being the researcher in a college of which I am the Principal has allowed me to focus on nine students’ individual journeys, giving an insider view of what has been achieved. Through a critical ethnographic approach, based on Carspecken’s (1996) Five Stages for Critical Qualitative Research, data was collected over one college year. Using college documentation and the voice of the nine students, one tutor, a learning support assistant and a support worker, through undertaking interviews and observations, the study explores the young peoples’ aspirations and behaviours at the start and end of the course, and how the college through its structure, strategic direction and staff has advanced the facilitation of the young peoples’ IDT.

By challenging the traditional notion of educational success being seen as solely based on academic achievement, this research explores and explains, through a conceptual framework of social, cultural, human and symbolic capital, how the ACL College contributes to the current and life chances for the nine marginalised young people at risk of becoming NEET. Within this framework, the notion of wider learning and IDT is recognised, demonstrating an interplay created by the wider learning of the four capitals in the young person’s development. This not only gives a basis on which further research can be based in order to develop this concept further but has resulted in the formulation of a best practice model for providers who work with young people at risk of being NEET in order to improve practice.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorSandy MacDonald (Supervisor) & Cristina Devecchi (Supervisor)


  • NEET
  • Adult Learning
  • Social Capital
  • Cultural Capital
  • Human Capital
  • Symbolic Capital

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