Staying on-track despite the odds: Factors that assist young people facing adversity to continue with their education.


This article draws on the findings from a mixed-methods New Zealand study of the experience of service use of 605 vulnerable young people (aged 13-17 years). Drawing on the survey data, it focuses on the factors that assisted young people to stay on-track with their education. Key findings include: being able to stay at mainstream school was the strongest predictor of capacity to stay on-track. Additional educational services did not appear to contribute directly to positive educational outcomes. There was a direct relationship between involvement with mental health services and the capacity of these vulnerable youths to stay on-track. Better integration between educational, welfare, and justice providers may yield better educational outcomes for these youths. Relational resources from domains such as friendship, family and community activities enhance young people’s capacities to stay engaged and achieving in education. However, not every positive relational resource produces a positive educational gain. For this reason, it is important that educational and other professionals carefully examine these domains (friends, family and community) to identify which of these has the potential to assist with educational engagement and then work to maximise the benefits for youths.