FEWER Southampton teenagers are staying on in education or training, new figures show – in contrast to the rest of the country, where there has been an increase.

Just 86.2 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds in the city were carrying on with their studies at the end of last year, slightly below the national average of 89.8 per cent.

Southampton’s record has slipped compared with 12 months earlier, when the proportion in education or training stood at 86.7 per cent.

And the city council is losing track of more 16 and 17- year-olds. Almost seven per cent are classed as “activity not known” – up from five per cent at the end of 2012.

The declining performance comes despite an improvement across Hampshire (up 0.4 per cent) and the Isle of Wight (up 4.7 per cent).

Across England as a whole there has been a rise of 35,482 in the number of 16 and 17- year-olds in education or training.

This follows stubbornly high levels of long-termyouth unemployment, risking a 1980s-style “lost generation”.

Matthew Hancock, the skills minister, said Government measures were showing their worth, including new traineeships and an expansion of apprenticeships.

Since last year 16-year-olds have been required to stay on in some form of studying – rules to be extended to 17- year-olds this summer.

Mr Hancock said: “More young people in education or training is welcome news.

This shows good progress. We have a clear programme of reforms to improve the quality of young people’s education to ensure, through traineeships and apprenticeships, that all have the chance to reach their potential.”

The Daily Echo asked Southampton City Council why fewer teenagers were carrying on their studies and why fewer were being ‘tracked’. However, a spokeswoman said no-one was available to discuss the council’s programme.

Mr Hancock said he would be writing to nine councils to raise concerns about the way education records were recorded, but did not name them.