Leaving school

When can I leave school?

From 2013, the government is changing the age that young people can leave education or training.

All young people will be expected to stay in some form of learning until the end of the academic year until they are 17 years old. This will increase to age 18 years old by 2015.

This means that if you are finishing year 11 in 2013, you will be expected to remain in learning for another year until you are 17 years old.

If you are finishing year 11 from 2014 onwards, you will need to remain in education or training until you are 18 years old.

Why is the government introducing these changes?

As the economy and world of employment changes, jobs within the UK will ask for a higher level of skills, training and qualifications.

The changes have been put into place to improve your chance of a better future by giving you the skills, training and qualifications needed. 

How will this benefit me?

People who continue education post-16 are more likely to:

  • enter and remain in education
  • receive the skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience to improve your future prospects
  • have an improved quality of life.

For example, young people who gain a level 2 qualification and above - equivalent to five or more GCSEs grades A* to C - can earn on average around £100,000 more over their lifetime than someone who leaves learning with fewer qualifications.

Having more qualifications also helps to reduce the risk of having long periods of unemployment.

Does this mean I have to stay at school until I'm 18?

No, it's not just about staying at school.

There will be more opportunities for young people than ever before. Your options include:

  • full-time education, such as school or college 
  • work-based learning, such as an Apprenticeship
  • part-time education or training if you are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week.

What does this mean if my child is in year 9 or below?

Young people should start planning ahead now and look at all of the options available to them. 

You can help by preparing them for the changes, talking to them about the benefits of staying in learning after they are 16, and making sure they are getting good advice about their options.

Don't forget that the majority of young people, around 80%, choose to stay on in learning until they are 18. This is because they understand the importance of gaining further education and qualifications.

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