Disparity in exam results highlights need for more investment in youth development 12 August IN the same week as widening social gaps in education are under the spotlight following this year’s A-level and GCSE results, a youth development charity has launched an appeal to help those living in the poorest communities and hardest hit by the pandemic. Tall Ships Youth Trust, the UK’s oldest and largest youth sail training charity, has launched its New Horizon Appeal against the backdrop of wide criticism from a former government education advisor and the Labour opposition leader, Sir Keir Starmer, over the widening social gaps in education between private and state school pupils, in the wake of the pandemic. The appeal aims to raise awareness and funds to help disadvantaged and vulnerable young people aged 12 – 25, who have not only missed out on their formal education due to repeated lockdowns but have also suffered from an increase in stress and heightened anxiety, with a doubling in year-on-year NHS mental health referrals among this age group. Donations to the appeal, will enable more young people who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, to experience a Tall Ships Youth Trust residential voyage. James Hudson, Director of Fundraising at the Trust, said: “A majority of the young people we support are from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and we know from those who have sailed with us recently that the past 18 months have taken a real toll on their mental and physical wellbeing. We have evidence that our voyages improve young people’s self-esteem and their ability to better manage their feelings. “The demand for our transformational voyages is greater now than ever and we hope this appeal will help even more young people to recover from the pandemic.” Sir Keven Collins, the former schools’ catch-up tsar, said in a BBC interview that the gaps were not just between state and private pupils but also in different parts of the country and warned that parts of the north of England were falling behind. Yesterday’s GCSE results showed that pupils eligible for free school meals have slipped further behind. Mirroring the A-level results, London had most top grades in England, while the north east had the least. Click here for further information on the New Horizon Appeal.