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to think that people were a lot better off when they left school at 14

(50 Posts)
hungrierhippo Thu 29-Sep-11 10:53:57

Was having this conversation with my Mum and Dad recently, both who left school at 14.

Both went straight into work, both received training. My Dad got an apprenticeship and became a qualified mechanic.

I realise these are different times and there is no real industry here anymore, but some days I do think that investing in training kids for something needed would be better than reluctantly teaching them not very much for a few extra years then chucking them on the dole.

or have I suddenly been possessed by Jeremy Vine grin

Madlizzy Thu 29-Sep-11 10:57:27

A lot of children do vocational courses and get training.

Proudnscary Thu 29-Sep-11 10:58:21

Aye and when tha was shoved up t'chimney or forced into 14 hour days in t'workhouse...


GrimmaTheNome Thu 29-Sep-11 10:59:57

For some people it might be better, IF (big 'if') there were appropriate jobs, training and career progression from that point. It would be far from an easy alternative to staying in school - it would probably only work for those who were motivated to put a lot of effort into it.

aldiwhore Thu 29-Sep-11 11:01:45

In some ways, it was much more possible to start in a job with few qualifications and work your way up to something pretty decent. My dad is case and point... he retired as a director of a huge company, he started on the ground floor.

Its not as possible now. Many many jobs require beyond a degree.

tryingtoleave Thu 29-Sep-11 11:01:49

14 seems very young. Otoh I don't think children should be forced to stay at school till they are 17, as is happening here.

hungrierhippo Thu 29-Sep-11 11:02:10

I know - I think my Mum also misses rickets.

It just seems to alien to me. DS is 13 and I can't imagine the thought of him having to go and get a job next year!

I think I'm having wobbles about the state of youth unemployment!

hungrierhippo Thu 29-Sep-11 11:03:24

Grimma, that was kind of my point. The job and training prospects seem so much worse now, even though they are technically more educated/qualified.

worraliberty Thu 29-Sep-11 11:04:10

I agree OP

Some kids certainly would benefit from leaving school early, though I think 15 would be a better age for them.

Back in the day, they were paid proper wages for a proper apprenticeship though. Now it's more like slave labour.

Bramshott Thu 29-Sep-11 11:08:14

I think the problem is that there used to be a lot more unskilled or semi-skilled jobs than there are now. Now for everything you are expected to have training or experience before you start.

I was reading something the other day about business leaders bemoaning the quality of the recent engineering graduates - saying that they may well have a degree, but they all lack relevant on the job experience and are therefore unemployable. They seem to expect the finished product, rather than offering training.

ItISBigandClever Thu 29-Sep-11 11:09:29

Nope. Apprenticeships should be available, but they should start at 16 after a basic education has been completed.

SpanishPaella Thu 29-Sep-11 11:11:02

i didnt leave at 14, i left at 16 and went to college but could easily have got a job or an apprenticeship if i had wanted to.

its such a shame that there are not many trade apprenticeships these days. Not everyone is cut out for University/College and to be honest if everyone has a degree, it devalues it.

meditrina Thu 29-Sep-11 11:19:27

The earlier school leaving age was a good thing when UK had a large manufacturing base, and there were sufficient unskilled jobs.

That simply isn't the case any more.

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 29-Sep-11 11:19:38

Hmmm, both my grandparents left school at 12, Granny to work in a laundry for 50 years and Grandad worked his way up to the dizzy heights of security guard at the GLC. They were both extremely bright and lively people but had the misfortune to be born into the working classes, so didn't have the option to do anything else. TBH my dear old gran could have run the Bank of England given half a chance, but of course being born in the time and place that she was she never had a chance.

I agree with ItISbigandclever, apprentiships are great and the idea that we all need a degree is insane, BUT some people are late developers so let's give everyone a chance eh?

Takver Thu 29-Sep-11 11:20:30

I think people were a lot better off when there were a lot more jobs! Which I guess was the case for my parents generation - they say themselves that in the 50s & 60s, if you didn't like your job you could walk out and expect to get another one the next day, if not that afternoon.

But of course the opposite was true for the slightly older generation who came out of school in the 30s - just read Love on the Dole, for example.

Having said that, I am dubious about compelling people to stay in education for more and more time - I think it would be much better if you were able to leave any time from say 15 onwards BUT with very easy re-entry to education for those who want to go back to it full time, loads of well funded evening classes for those who want to work and study etc etc.

If I were dictator I would also forbid any 18 y/os for going straight on to university, I'd have them all out at work stacking shelves or whatever for a year or so first so they realise what an opportunity they are getting grin

Pandemoniaa Thu 29-Sep-11 11:25:25

I didn't leave school at 14 (school leaving age was 15) and tbh, went to the sort of St. Trinians establishment where the word "apprenticeship" never darkened the mouldering doors.

But while there's no doubt that good vocational training of the sort that apprenticeships provided turned out skilled workers who wouldn't have thrived in a purely academic environment, there's another, far less attractive side to the story.

Many bright, capable children never took the exams they could have passed. A stumble at the 11+ could control a child's destiny in a quite unacceptable way. Secondary modern schools did not necessarily offer O Levels, let alone A Levels and Careers Officers, back in those days, were notorious for deciding a young person's fate in a way we'd, rightfully, not tolerate. Especially at the age of 14!

So while I think trade apprenticeships are excellent, they shouldn't be offered as an alternative to getting an all-round general education first.

It's also worth remembering that many of the skilled jobs that were available to apprentices after their training simply don't exist nowadays. Locally to me (in the South East) we had a massive foundry which was closed and redeveloped so that the population can ensure a never-ending supply of organic twine and distressed flower pots.

fragola Thu 29-Sep-11 11:26:06

My mum left work at 14 to work in a hospital laundry. It was hard work and quite stressful, as often things were bundled up in the sheets that should have been sent to the incinerators. No training or promotion opportunities were available.

I think those who got a good level or training or "worked their way up" were the lucky ones. I wouldn't like to see a return to those times.

ragged Thu 29-Sep-11 11:43:27

I've read Love on the Dole, that is grim.

I think it would be good if kids had option to leave at 14/KS3, but option to come back to same institution and finish GCSE years up until the age of 18/19. Right now it seems like we are pushing too hard for everyone to fit into one mold/develop in the same ways.

mumsamilitant Thu 29-Sep-11 12:35:48

DS is nearly 14 and funny enough I was talking to a friend about this situation. One of her daughters who is now 22 did a degree in "media" and is now working in a pub!

I may be flamed for this but I really do think that University should be attended by high achievers or teens that know the path they wish to take and a degree has to be done in order to do this. ie. a vet, a doctor, a teacher etc.

I myself am working class and was a bit swept away by the policy "everyone should be able to attend uni"

I have now seen this is crap and soft degrees aren't worth the paper they're written on.

My son will have to stay at school until he's 18 now but there are a lot of vocational day release projects in the pipeline. He also attends Sea Cadets and they do BTEC's.

Sorry, that was a bit adhoc and "rambly" at work and people seem to keep wanting me to actually do some!

ItISBigandClever Thu 29-Sep-11 13:23:54

" myself am working class and was a bit swept away by the policy "everyone should be able to attend uni"

Class should not be part of this - ability should be.

mumsamilitant Thu 29-Sep-11 13:25:40

Yes exactly but in my day it was very rare that working class kids got the chance to go to uni.

loveglove Thu 29-Sep-11 13:28:22

Nope. You need a degree to fart these days.

mumsamilitant Thu 29-Sep-11 13:28:47

Oh and I didn't mention it as felt hard done by or anything it was just a fact.

ItISBigandClever Thu 29-Sep-11 13:30:24

Yes, I understand that, but your class should be irrelevant.

I agree completely that not everyone is cut out to go to university - but it should not be dependant on your class but rather on your ability.

hmc Thu 29-Sep-11 13:33:13

YABU - my parents similarly left school at 14 and are correspondingly closed minded, opinionated and more than a little bigotted - a cluster of character traits which seem to beset the undereducated in my opinion. Education does more than equip for jobs - it should also develop reflective, thoughtful people.

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