Nobody knows how raising compulsary education age in England will work

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

I wrote to the British Department for English Education last month about the planned change to school leaving ages in England.  In particular I asked what would happen to someone who has already left school in Scotland or Wales moving to England or to someone moving from England to Scotland or Wales at age 16.  Their response basically amounts to “we don’t know, we’re hoping something comes up”.

Dear Mr Parr

Thank you for your email of 16 February, about Raising the Participation Age (RPA).

Education policy and law is a devolved matter, and the Department for Education is unaware of any plans the Scottish and Welsh Governments may have for raising the age of compulsory education in those nations.

With regard to the matter you raise, young people who are resident in England will be required to participate but we must be clear that no young people will be barred from taking a job. The requirements of RPA are that a young person engages with education – whether that be full-time (at a school or college), an Apprenticeship, or if taking a full-time job combines that with part-time study or training. The great majority of 16-17 year-olds who do work, do so part-time alongside full-time education and that will completely be unaffected by the RPA legislation.

In the particular scenarios you outline:

– If a young person at age 16 (or 17 from 2015) move to England from Scotland or Wales, they will be under a duty to participate. We believe that it will be beneficial for all young people to continue in education until they are at least 18, and as mentioned this will in no way bar them from getting a job. Under the Welsh school system, the secondary phase ends at 16, with a further 16-18 phase, in the same way as it does in England. In Scotland, young people may finish their further education when they are 17, and in that instance we are considering making an allowance in the law for them to be discharged from their duty to participate if they attain certain qualifications (e.g. three or more Scottish Highers). However, in any event we do not consider it a harmful outcome for a young person to engage with further education.

– If a young person from England moves to Scotland or Wales, this will be a matter for the respective governments of those countries. However, it is our understanding that it will be very likely that a young person in that situation will be able to continue in education in those countries – and have that funded by those governments.

Once again, thank you for writing and I hope this information is helpful.

So someone moving to England from Scotland or Wales in, say, June at age 17 will be required to go to school or find an apprenticeship for a month whilst someone moving from England to Scotland or Wales having not finished their secondary education is likely, possibly, hopefully to be able to finish their education in Scotland and Wales.

The truth is, this change has been poorly thought out and there are still unanswered questions about how it’s going to work despite the changes taking effect this year.  There is no agreement with the Scottish or Welsh governments for English people to finish their secondary education if they move, just a hope that they will plug the gap and they still haven’t decided what, if any, exemptions will be put in place for Scottish or Welsh people moving to England.


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  1. […] effects of English legislation under the British government are also not fully explored.  The requirement of all young English people to remain in education until the age of 18 is a perfect example – the British government has passed this law without considering the […]

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