In the news

August 25, 2000

Sulky, monosyllabic and spotty, Kevin the teenager, the obnoxious creation of comic Harry Enfield, seems like an unlikely advocate of the government's "Don't Quit Now" campaign, which aims to encourage more 16-year-olds to stay in education and training.

Kevin's support also came as a "surprise endorsement" to the Department for Education and Employment, but the angst-ridden adolescent and his "crew" of fellow teenagers are soon to embark on a three-week promotional tour of schools and colleges to spread the government's "Things are about to get interesting" message.

Kevin's struggle to get his parents and teachers to understand his problems, which he usually expresses by wailing "It's so unfair" or "I hate you" followed by flinging himself face down on the floor, has been seized on as an accurate representation of the modern teenage experience.

An analysis of this year's A-level results has revealed that girls have outperformed boys for the first time (and it is also anticipated that girls will score better at GCSE level for the 12th consecutive year), fuelling concerns that teenage boys are more likely to leave school early. While girls will call an exam hotline to discuss their future options, boys tend to rely on their parents to make calls for them, according to a user survey of a BBC advice line. The BBC has recently launched a Student Essentials website to encourage boys to help themselves.

It is hoped that Kevin's decision to give the education system another chance will make him a positive role model to the 600,000 16-year-olds who receive their GCSE results this week. Celebrities without qualifications, such as the Manchester United footballer David Beckham and his wife Victoria, the Spice Girl, have also been urged by Alan Smithers, a professor of education at Liverpool University, to promote the value of education by returning to study themselves.

Jennifer Currie

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