Forcing 16 year olds to stay on

07 Nov 2007

 Interesting reaction to the Queen's Speech proposal to raise the education leaving age (n.b. not school- leaving age, as some deliberately and misleadingly describe it). 

 I was chairing an education Question Time for the National Education Trust ( a new charity dedicated to raising the standard of debate on education policy) at the University of Bedfordshire. Most of the panellists were passionately in favour of more young people staying on in education to at least 18. But most of them were opposed to making it compulsory. 

 The interesting thing about the proposed legislation is that if compulsion were not being proposed no Bill would be needed as there is no need to change the law just to state a vague aspiration to get more youngsters to stay on. 

At least this way there has been a real debate about the education-leaving age. But criminalising young people for not turning up to classes? What are the other options?

Your views welcome.      

User Comments

Martin Willoughby - 08 Nov 2007

Staying til 18

If the government increases the leaving age to 18 they might face a legal challenge to proposals to make parents responsible for getting them there. My knowledge of the law is sketchy, but aren\'t 16-18 year olds adults in the eyes of the law and therefore legally separate from their parents?

Paul - 13 Nov 2007

16 year olds staying on

Hi Mike, dropping a not while I eat lunch at my desk planning my next lesson. It seems that the incentive of giving EMA to student to turn up to class has not worked, so instead of the carrot, we now use the stick. I don't understand why we always just seem to deal with the symptom rather than provide an effective remedy. How about investing money into education, make it attractive to young people, they have to want to come to school rather than be made to attend. I know it is blue sky thinking but there must be something which will make young people see how relevant education is, perhaps instead of being taught at why don't we actively involve young people up and down the country in the creation of a new curriculum which has ideas from both teachers and students?

Mike Baker - 13 Nov 2007

Staying on

Hi Martin: yes, you are right, legally from 16+ children are on their own. However the new Bill in the Queen's Speech will impose a duty on parents not to obstruct 16-18 year olds from taking part in education or training. This means they can be fined if they actively stop them attending classes e.g if the parent is an employer and employs their 16-18 year old without ensuring they get days off for education or training. Mainly, though, the legal duty is going to be on the young person who can receive a Fixed Penalty Notice for non-attendance and, if they still don't turn up, will be subject to the Youth Court and a further fine. They cannot, however, go to jail for this offence.

Thanks for your comments.


Mike Baker - 13 Nov 2007

To Paul

Thanks for your comments.
I am sure you are right. I suppose this is what the government hopes the new Diplomas will do once they start to come on stream from next September.
It is also what personalised learning is all about -- and Gordon Brown keeps banging on about this so you might imaghine he would support you! I saw a great pilot project in Bristol being run by FutureLab where they were getting older pupils to find out from younger pupils how they liked to learn and then adapting lessons to their different learning styles.
Thanks for reading during your lunchbreak.

Gerry Doyle - 14 Nov 2007

Forcing 16 yo to stay on

Sounds similar to a new law here in Western Australia. However, if not all Australian states adopt the same leaving age I imagine there will be some who will leave WA. How will the UK Authorities deal with a 17yo who takes a job in Spain, or Poland?

Richard - 27 Nov 2007


i am a student my self, school is so borign these days some days i dont even want to go if they invested money to students in school they would rather go to school and learn for money than to be bored out of there mind ((bring in the money))

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