Don’t regret missing out on free schooling, youth MP urges peers

5:30am Thursday 5th June 2014

By Scott D'Arcy

SWINDON’S Youth MP Ellie James has begun a campaign to encourage young people to embrace education while it’s available for free, instead of struggling in later life.

Ellie, 16, who is studying for her GCSEs and is planning to do A-levels, said she feared some students may be led astray from learning and regret decisions they make now in years to come.

So Ellie has teamed up with Fixers – the national charity that supports 16 to 25-year-olds – for help to achieve her goal. She will be talking about her campaign on ITV News Meridian today from 6pm.

Ellie said: “I know young people can be side-tracked by other influences, which have a huge impact.

“In my sociology studies we looked at different things that can have an effect and one big factor is peer pressure.”

She was inspired to campaign for teenagers to choose education over parenthood after her half-sister, Lucy James, gave up her dreams of working with animals at the age of 19 to bring up her children.

Ellie said: “It’s been hard for her to juggle motherhood with studying and having the money to pay for courses. She found it really difficult to get back into education.”

Sally Burnett, from Routes to Employment for Swindon Council, said she supported Ellie’s campaign.

She said: “For 16 to 19-year-olds education is free. That’s a great opportunity to get as many skills as they can. They have a great chance of being able to go on to a higher level pay and a lifestyle that young people tell us they would like.”

Working with Fixers, Ellie plans to create a series of short films to get her point across.

Ellie said: “Most people only have the one chance to do their GCSEs, one chance to apply for an apprenticeship and one chance to apply for university. I really want young people to think about the now and have the confidence in themselves that they can achieve.”

Fixers has already supported more than 12,500 young people across the UK and aims to work with over 70,000 by 2020 to help them to take action and tackle the issues they feel strongly about, from cyber-bullying to self-harm.

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