raising of the school-leaving age

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The statutory minimum school‐leaving age was raised from 15 to 16 in 1972, and the first cohort of pupils to be affected were those who reached the age of 15 in the academic year 1972/3. This change had a dramatic impact on secondary schools, and particularly those without sixth forms, who were obliged to provide pupils with a suitable curriculum for the additional year of their schooling. For some years subsequently pupils who would by choice have left school at 15 were widely referred to as ‘Rosla pupils’. The idea of raising the minimum leaving age had been discussed as early as 1944 in the Education Act (Butler Act), and had been recommended in the Newsom Report in 1963. Some commentators have seen more recent developments such as the Youth Training Schemes of the 1980s and the introduction of General National Vocational Qualifications in the 1990s as government strategies indirectly to raise the leaving age still further with the goal of keeping all young people in full‐time education or training until the age of 18. Historically, the minimum school‐leaving age has risen steadily, from 10 in 1880, to 11 in 1893, and to 12 in 1899. In 1918 it was raised to 14, and again to 15 in 1947. It currently remains at 16, but there are plans to require all young people to stay in school, training, or workplace training until the age of 18 by 2013. This will not mean that they will have to remain in school or continue with an academic curriculum, but that they will be required to be receiving education or training of some kind. This is not technically, therefore, a raising of the school‐leaving age, but rather an extending of the period of education and training necessary before young people become eligible to join the workforce.

Subjects: Education.

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