Leaving later has its advantages

Nicholas Woolley's argument against raising the school leaving age (TES, January 26) was long on anecdote but woefully short on evidence. I believe raising what should be called the "education leaving age" will be a positive move that will promote greater social equality.

There is a clear link between leaving education at 16 and indicators of socio-economic disadvantage such as low-income jobs or high unemployment.

Parents who left school young are more likely to have children who do the same. Forcing children to stay at school longer could help to break the cycle of disadvantage.

Mr Woolley failed to mention a recent study in Canada which found that tighter restrictions on the leaving age between 1920 and 1990 had helped to raise average attainment and average incomes. It found that students compelled to do an extra year of school experienced an average increase in income of about 12 per cent. It also found that compulsory schooling is closely linked to benefits relating to bilingualism, employment and poverty status.

Mike Ion Telford, Shropshire

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