MP Chris Bryant has pledged his support to Rhondda teens with youth survey conducted in the Mid-Rhondda.
Launching the Rhondda Youth Survey 2013, Mr Bryant said the results showed public observations about teenagers “and especially about young people in the Rhondda, are completely out of kilter with reality”.
MP Chris Bryant surveyed 450 pupils from Post-Sixteen students in five schools across the constituency, on areas ranging from transport to social issues like drugs, alcohol, and sex education. The study found 29% were in some form of employment in addition to studying, above the Wales average of 22% and the UK average, 20.3%.
Fewer teenagers (65%) expected to go on to university than the Welsh average, 78.7%, but those that did go, were increasingly likely to do so in Wales, the survey suggested.
Mr Bryant said “The majority of those surveyed are optimistic about their futures” which proved surprising to the Tonypandy Community College teens interviewed by national media last week. Head boy Liam Hale and Head Girl Chloe Williams explained that the portrayal of the valleys in the media was that there is increased drug use, increased unemployment and increased numbers of benefit claimants, compared to the rest of the UK.
In fact, the survey showed that Rhondda teens work hard and study hard, with aspirations to be to be Engineers, Teachers, and Ambulance crew. They also eschewed the stereotype that all young people want to have children and claim benefits, with the survey demonstrating that the majority of students felt that they should wait until they can afford to bring up a child before starting a family.
Tonypandy’s Youth Empowerment Officer Emily Cook said the news came as a “Welcome relief.” The Lottery-Funded post aims to improve the prospects of teens at Tonypandy Community College, but Miss Cook admitted that the first hurdle was the self esteem of young people.
“Students in school have shown a lack of aspirations because they live in the valleys, as opposed to an appreciation of the area, or a determination to improve it for the better. I am passionate that our students are as talented, bright and gifted as young people anywhere in the UK, but they allow the media’s false representation to affect the way they see themselves. Achievement starts with the belief that you can succeed, and with years of being told that there are no jobs and no opportunities in the valleys, our students are starting to believe that they cannot prosper. “
Miss Cook added “This is certainly not the case, students at Tonypandy are some of the brightest and most inspirational young people I have ever worked with.”