Over-16s don't need childminding

Government proposals for pupils to attend school until the age of 18 are ill-conceived. Young people should have the chance to engage in full-time education and training after 16 on a voluntary, not compulsory, basis - otherwise school will be used as a "childminding facility" for disaffected adolescents, as it is already for some.

Young people's best interests are served by having an education experience that reflects their personal and academic preferences, rather than fitting into the straitjacket of a government agenda.

The idea of "dropping out" should not be seen as wrong so long as the opportunity to "drop in again" is possible, with meaningful educational opportunity. Further, the idea that pregnancy will provide exemption from the scheme sends a worrying message about girls and academic pursuit.

Marie Parker-Jenkins

University of Derby

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