July 2018

Barriers to Learning

Barriers to Learning
In partnership with


Learning is important for our progression in life. It is particularly important for young people during their transition from school to higher education, or work.

If I learn something new it will open doors for me.

Levels of depression and anxiety among young people have increased in recent years (Snape, 2017). Mental health issues are particularly common among disadvantaged young people, who also face practical and structural barriers to learning and progression (Hounsell, 2013; Maguire & Mckay, 2016).

Previous research has highlighted:

  • learning can potentially have a positive influence on wellbeing
  • low wellbeing may act as a barrier to access and progression in learning.

Wellbeing is an important issue for schools and universities. However, little evidence is available on the effectiveness of actions and approaches designed to improve learning by addressing wellbeing.

This briefing is based on an evidence review that examines the effectiveness of approaches designed to enhance wellbeing in order to improve engagement and progression in young people’s learning.

The review focuses on interventions with 16-24 year olds, given the long-term importance of having a stable transition into adulthood (DfE, 2016; HM government, 2011, Lane, Conlon, Peycheva, Mantovani & Chan 2017).

By understanding what wellbeing approaches are effective in improving learning, policy-makers and learning providers may be better placed to challenge the wellbeing-related barriers that limit some young people’s progression.

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What are the key findings?

What evidence did we find?

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