Monday 2 September 2013

Post-16 Education Revolution Begins Here

Teenagers in England will have to stay at school or in training longer from today. The "participation age" has risen from 16 to 17, although in the rest of the UK, it will remain at 16. From 2015 this rises again to 18.

However, unlike previous increases in the school leaving age, it does not mean that teenagers will have to remain in school. As an alternative, they could enter some form of work that includes an element of training, such as an apprenticeship.

This change has been introduced on the same day that pupils who do not get a grade C or higher in GCSE maths will be required to continue studying the subject during their subsequent schooling.

Schools and teaching unions are already talking about the increased pressure on already-stretched teaching staff and/or the need to employ more staff.

The government says that employers are complaining about a lack of basic numeracy and literacy skills among those applying for their first jobs and this has motivated both changes. However, there will not be sanctions imposed on any teenagers who fail to get some kind of training. The government says that the changes are aimed at increasing educational standards, not about introducing penalties. In reality, the new law would be difficult to enforce: how do you prove whether or not an employer is providing adequate training for a young employee.

Let us know what you think about these two changes. Will they provide valuable skills to those who have missed out in previous years? Or is this just another unnecessary change brought in by a tinkering education secretary?

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