From The Archive - Parents must rise to challenge of new leaving age

20th May 2011 at 01:00
29 April 1944 - Education Act's raising of attendance age to 15 brings fresh responsibilities to the home

All over the country, parents are beginning to ask what their children will do in school during the "extra year", as they call it, when the age of compulsory attendance is raised to 15. They have the right to an answer - almost, it might be said, a legal right.

From 1 April 1945, it will become their (parents') statutory duty to ensure their children receive full-time education suitable to each child's "age, ability and aptitude"; and that duty they manifestly cannot carry out unless they know what kind of education their children are receiving.

Local authorities might do well to consider (as doubtless some are already considering) the publication of a brief pamphlet setting out in general terms what it is in their area, and suggesting parents should get in touch with the headteachers to learn in more detail what the children's curriculum will be.

Such a pamphlet might properly begin by correcting the form of the question most parents seem to be asking. Nothing could be more undesirable than for the idea to get abroad that the raising of the school age to 15 means merely the tacking of an "extra" year on to the nine of compulsory schooling.

What it does mean, it should be pointed out, is that teachers will be able to plan a child's education in terms of a minimum of 10 years' full-time schooling in place of nine.

The fact that the lengthened period of compulsory attendance is essentially a minimum, and a traditional minimum at that, should be stressed.

Parents should be encouraged to take advantage of nursery schools and classes and to keep their children at school beyond the statutory age.

They should be aware that the nation has accepted the principle of an education period for child- ren and young people extending from two to 18, and is determined to realise that principle in practice at the earliest possible moment.

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