Union against school leaving age rising

A SUFFOLK teaching union leader has today called for more opportunities and paid training for youngsters rather than increasing the school leaving age.

A SUFFOLK teaching union leader has today called for more opportunities and paid training for youngsters rather than increasing the school leaving age.

Martin Goold, county secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), told the Evening Star Suffolk's above average numbers of 16 to 18 year olds in neither education, training nor employment was worrying.

He added: “Suffolk has traditionally a rather large proportion of people not continuing in education or training at 16 and this is a concern we share with the government.

“We all want to see young people in training or education until they are 18 but making it a law is I think likely to cause all sorts of problems.”

The plans to raise the school leaving age have been earmarked for introduction in 2013 and are aimed at tackling youth unemployment, with leavers having to stay on or take a work-based course.

Last November Chancellor Gordon Brown said that every young person should have the chance to stay in education until the age of 18 - a day after Education Secretary Alan Johnson floated the idea of raising the mandatory school leaving age from 16 to 18.

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Mr Johnson has said it should be “unacceptable” in modern Britain for a 16-year-old to be in a job with no training or education.

Mr Goold said just raising the school leaving age will be difficult to enforce.

He said: “Will we be forced to round up 16 and 17-year-olds off the streets? There is often pressure on 16-year-olds to get out and earn a living. It is much more sensible to offer young people proper paid training opportunities. Making it compulsory is not the right way.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, unemployment among 16 and 17-year-olds has risen from 19.9per cent

when Labour came to power in 1997 to 25.3pc now.

What do you think? Should the school leaving age be raised to 18? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Key dates the changes to the school leaving age.

1893 - leaving age raised to 11.

1899 - leaving age raised to 12.

1918 - full-time education compulsory from 5 to 14, exemptions dropped.

1936 - leaving age to be raised to 15 from 1939, not implemented because of

the outbreak of war.

1944 - legislation to enable raising leaving age to 15, and 16 ``as soon as it

was practicable'.

1947 - leaving age raised to 15.

1959 - report recommending leaving age of 16.

1963 - another report recommended 16.

1964 - preparations for change began.

1968 - change postponed.

1971 - leaving age raised to 16 from September 1972.

1997 - all children must remain in education until the last schoolday in June in the year they turn 16.

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