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Changes to the school leaving age - what do you think?

(74 Posts)
JaneGMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 13-May-13 12:46:33


We've been asked by BBC Radio 5 Live to find out what you think about the planned changes to the school leaving age.

From the start of this academic year (2013/2014), the Government is increasing the age to which all young people in England must continue in education or training. From this year, they'll be required to continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17, and until their 18th birthday from 2015. Further information for parents from the DofE can be found here.

Did you know that the changes were on their way?

Has there been enough done to communicate these changes to parents?

What do you think about the changes?

As always, we'd love to hear what you all think about this - so do please let us know!


Lilka Mon 13-May-13 15:49:39

I can't see how this is workable, to be honest

As hellsbells said how can students with very low marks carry on in eduaction past 16 anyway? They won't be accepted on to courses, schools won't keep them on, no apprenticeships. As far as I can see their only option is to retake their GCSE years again at a college that will take a 16 year old for GCSE's.

If nowhere has a legal obligation to take them, some students will wind up with nowhere and then whatever the law says, their education will be over at 16 unless some time in the future they pick up studying again.

Yes, the government are placing a duty on the LA to help the 16 year old find a place, but can the LA force somewhere to take them? If the LA cannot force somewhere to take these children, then the new law is in part pretty useless. Not like the powers the LA have for school places.

My eldest daughter left school at 16 and got a full time low wage job. It was a better option for her than staying in education as she was/is not at all academic - only a couple of GCSE's were passed and by passed I don't mean A*-B's. My second aged 17 is in college doing a vocational course and only just met minimum requirements. If she hadn't met them, she would be in a worse place than her sister, because jobs are scarce and she has more serious mental health and other health problems that make jobs difficult for her.

A full move to education till 18 can't happen until we have enough college/course/apprenticeship places for everyone, even if they have attained no qualifications (so probably a place at college/school to retake GCSE's), AND it is mandatory for all 16-18 to have been given a place in education by a post-16 provider.

piprabbit Mon 13-May-13 15:53:12

It should be a Good Thing. But if the lack of information so far is anything to go by, it will be inadequately planned, under-resourced and poorly executed. It will not improve the options for the less academic child, but it will keep them out of the unemployment figures.

sad I'm not usually this cynical, but can't help feeling underwhelmed by the implementation of this proposal.

MadeOfStarDust Mon 13-May-13 15:54:24

Fun fun fun - where I come from originally (remote, isolated etc) most kids follow mum/dad's footsteps - farming, fishing, building, shop work, tourist related work etc - learning in the family business from about age 14 - and they want to be out and earning money ASAP not arseing about in school for even longer.

Some do apprenticeships - garage work/electrician etc, but most just get on with it and earn towards the family pot...... Only the few who go off to Uni stay on...

I hate the one-size-fits-all "solutions" government...

HarlotOTara Mon 13-May-13 16:06:38

I looked up the government info about the changes last year. The original info - was it part of an Act? - stated that continuing education or work based training was mandatory but the responsibility of the young person and not the parents. The last government was going to implement fines (similar to school absence fines) which the young person would be expected to pay if they didn't engage. Of course that is madness and unworkable so has now not been implemented.
I agree in some places, families the plans are unworkable and am not sure how it will be followed up.
Where I live the council has declared there will be no Neets (Not In Education, Employment or Training) by 2014. Impossible of course.

I work with disengaged young people and it is impossible to get some to engage in anything so not sure what will happen. However, they all know what they are meant to be doing as do their parents. Having said that my dd is year 11 and no one has given me info about this but I knew anyway.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Mon 13-May-13 17:30:47

One of my concerns is regarding statemented children and those with health issues.

Who is responsible for providing these children with the support and education they need?

For example a child who cannot access regular education due to ill health is currently entitled to a certain number of hours home tuition provided by the LA. Is the LA going to continue to provide this? The young person is patently not going to be well enough to do an apprenticeship. How will 6th form colleges handle this situation and will they receive funding for continued education for statemented children?

Startail Mon 13-May-13 18:04:53

I agree with everything said above.

there are lots of fine sentiments, but no planning and no money to make them happen.

I live in a rural area with big secondary catchments and huge sixth form and collage ones. Transport, both lack of availability and cost is a really serious issue. Some DCs who attend the DDs school from out of catchment already shell out almost £1000 a year.

I can see lower achieving DCs being asked to travel 15-25 miles to the only towns with large collages. Buses to these exist. Buses to many of the smaller towns the might have apprenterships, either don't or like our local one run on Tuesdays and Thursdays only!!

With parents on low income and no post 16 grants it isn't going to happen. Dear lad next door can't find the fare to get to said town to see the dole office. Heaven knows what DCs who aren't eligible for benefits are supposed to do.

Not all DCs have supportive parents. Even those who do can't necessarily afford the time or the money to keep supporting 16+ DCs. They need to keep their own jobs, they cannot be expected to run DCs to obscure places, it simply doesn't work.

LadyLech Mon 13-May-13 18:05:52

I teach in the FE sector, and I would say that the whole thing seems to be a complete shambles. I think its fine for those who have the children who will get Ds+ in their exams (Cs+ to do A levels, Ds+ needed to redo GCSEs and progress onto A levels) but what about those who get Fs, Gs, and Us in their GCSEs? What has been put in place for them?
Most post 16 courses are very dependent on students achieving the necessary grades at GCSE. Even if they want to repeat their GCSEs, there are often minimum requirements to be met. Most schools do not offer these sorts of programmes (level 1 and level 2 qualifications) and so for many students, it may well mean having to go to the local college.

And as Bramshot pointed out, for low income families there are often big financial implications for students who have to travel for up to (and sometimes more than) an hour to get to college. Then, there's the books and resources. Unlike schools, colleges are on a much tighter budget and so students are expected to buy their own books, paper etc. In my experience / opinion the new bursary system does not cover everything and I do see students who are really struggling to cope. I know of some who work full time and fit their studies in around the sides, because they have to help out with the rent, have to pay bus fares and so on... Bursaries are such an individual thing, the rules vary so much that you cannot ensure every student who needs it, gets it. I see lots of students who struggle.

But the biggest problem I see, is just how are they going to enforce this? If a student can't get a place at school or college and can't get an apprenticeship - what has been put in place to help these students find courses, training etc? I'm not aware of any great new scheme designed to help these students - yet they're the ones who make up our NEETS. It seems to me, to be another ill thought through problem, whereby the bright middle class kids are okay, but it is the low achieving poorer kids who are let down yet again.

Goldmandra Mon 13-May-13 18:24:43

My DD1 is in Y11 but nobody has told us that she has to stay on in education. It isn't a problem for us as she would have attended sixth form anyway but I wonder if anyone is keeping track.

Transport is an issue for us and we are waiting to hear how much it will cost us.

iliketea Mon 13-May-13 19:04:47

Like others have said, it's a good thing in theory, but only if there are enough places for all AND high quality, useful vocational education is provided for those who want it or aren't academically able to study a-levels.

A college near me is pretty good, has a beauty salon, travel agent and restaurant run by students, teaching those who want to go into those careers / don't want to go onto university useful skills for employment.

I also wonder how it will be enforced? If a 16 year doesn't want to be in education, then I'm not sure how their parents or the government can force them to do so. Also, the financial implications to families re: transport costs in particular need to be considered.

CheeryCherry Mon 13-May-13 19:14:17

I remember the issue being discussed several years ago, so was vaguely aware it would affect my DCs. My DS is in year 11 and has been fully informed by school of all his options, though as parents we have had no communications as such. There is an excellent 6th form so it was always on the cards he would stay on to do A levels. I do think it is a good idea to stay in some form of education but there is a definite need for a variety of good apprenticeships that will hopefully suit most pupils. Not all children are academic, and we do need qualified vocational workers too...if the opportunities are there. We've always had to pay for bus fares, but I can see that being an issue for some.

creamteas Mon 13-May-13 19:56:29

As far as I can see, the only people that will gain from this is the private companies who offer warehousing training places. These are currently targeted at NEETS and they are often poor quality with little hope of entry into FE or work afterwards.

It is also (at least is near me) highly gendered. The girls get hairdressing of beauty and the boys mechanics or building skills.

I think the LEA has a duty to monitor, but given the range of possible providers, not sure how this will work. I have not heard about whether or not parents will be prosecuted if their teenager doesn't attend, and that would be interesting to know.

Whatalotofpiffle Mon 13-May-13 20:09:03

Had no idea but think it is great

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 13-May-13 20:17:45

Hmm, I am more keen to see apprenticeships etc come back. Then raising age is possibly appropriate. If its just a gambit for dumbing down university more then absolutely not.

Both options are excellent. But government has ruined apprenticeships AND Uni options. That's just beyond stupid.

AmberLeaf Mon 13-May-13 20:31:51

Have just spoken to my 16 yr old yr 11 son, he said that his school told him that the current yr 10s will be the first group affected by the changes.

So if the school don't even know the correct info it is no wonder us parents haven't been told anything.

What a shambles!

Springforward Mon 13-May-13 21:49:57

I think this is a good thing in principle, as long as the education or training is of a good enough quality to help them into HE/ FE/ work afterwards and not just somewhere to park young people until they're old enough to be officially unemployed in government statistics.

supergreenuk Mon 13-May-13 22:14:39

How on earth will schools cater for 2 extra years of pupils. Will the government be spending money on employing teachers and building school extensions?

creamteas Mon 13-May-13 22:22:36

Super they don't (and probably won't) have to stay in school. They have to be education or training.

Only a very small number of 16-17 year olds are currently not in education, employment or training (NEET). It just makes the NEETS into truants.

Limelight Mon 13-May-13 22:31:34

I think the important thing here is that it's about raising the 'participation' age not the 'school leaving' age. It's an important distinction isn't it and I would expect a national media outlet to get that right.

Ultimately I think it's a good idea. I haven't read all of the guidance and note some concerns above about kids with SEN etc. I'd want to read more to see what's been put in place.

Fundamentally I think it's right that our young people should be provided with development opportunities for as long as possible to be honest. I think that the motivation behind this policy is probably right.

This was passed under the last government I seem to remember so it's not like we didn't all know it was coming?

Sorry to be vague. I haven't read enough but did want to say something!

BackforGood Mon 13-May-13 23:06:04

I too wonder how exactly they are going to make this happen. If a "child" of 17 doesn't want to go to school, then how exactly are they going to get them out of bed? If they have to leave the school because they are not attending, then who the heck is going to employ them ?
I've been aware of the fact they are supposed to stay on, for years (it's not a new rule, just a phased in one), but there hasn't been a massive increase in provision for those who don't want to do A-levels

1944girl Tue 14-May-13 00:42:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheFallenNinja Tue 14-May-13 09:09:12

At the moment there are kids after 11 years in education leave with nothing. What difference will these proposed changes make to that?

It will be opposed by rural parents because of bus fare.

It will turn into two years of bolt on schemes with no particular purpose.

If they're going to remain in education then it should be mainstream with a proper continuing syllabus, options should be delayed and base subjects taught to a more advanced level.

Fascinate Tue 14-May-13 10:17:13

Well I had no idea about this at all. DD is not affected, she's 16 and in Y12 with plans to go to uni, but DS is 14 and in Y9 - no-one's mentioned anything about it. He's planning on going on to A'Levels tho, so actually it will make no difference to us, but still.... :P

Naebother Tue 14-May-13 10:59:56

Another ill thought out idea. Why make it compulsory?

I feel pity for teachers who will be stuck with demotivated students and those same students stuck in the system.

gazzalw Tue 14-May-13 11:25:33

I knew there was such a proposal in the pipeline but not aware that it was going to be legalised quite so soon. I wonder how many secondary school pupils who will 'benefit' from this are aware of it?

It shouldn't impact adversely on our family as I'm assuming that both DCs will stay on for A Levels anyway but it's rather harsh to make it compulsory - surely it's all about manipulating unemployment figures in the short-term rather than any real mission to make secondary school pupils more 'qualified'?

I do hope that for those who wouldn't otherwise have stayed in education (and indeed those who would anyway), extended schooling will include useful life-skills such as money management etc....

MoodyDidIt Tue 14-May-13 12:30:24

i think its mad

16 YO's are allowed to leave home, have sex, get married ffs

i cant help thinking its to do with improving unemployment figures as well

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