18 means access to new paths

26th January 2007 at 00:00

At 18, teenagers are old enough to vote, serve on a jury, buy alcohol, place a bet and marry without parental consent. By that age, they have already had two years in which they can consent to sex, take up smoking or join the armed services.

In education, too, 16-year-olds are considered mature enough to make choices, between dropping out of school, carrying on in full-time study or training in the workplace, perhaps as an apprentice.

These decisions are theirs to take because the Government believes they should be allowed to make judgments in their own best interests. Indeed, it is a tribute to the Government's approach to post-16 education that the opportunities are so varied.

Teenagers have come to enjoy these options in life because society has deemed them capable of making such decisions. It accepts that they are older and wiser than when they were in compulsory education.

This being the case, it is surely reasonable to think that many are mature enough to study alongside adults on a university access course and should be allowed to do so. As we report on page 3, the Quality Assurance Authority has made its position clear on this. It considers that the 19-plus age restriction on access courses is in breach of the law.

Colleges will have the burden of trying to make sure that less mature under-19s are encouraged to stick to traditional routes of study instead of access courses, rather than simply barring them because of their age. This may be a challenge but one which college managers - with their gift for performing miracles - are more than capable of meeting.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now