School-leaving age plans unwise

12th September 2008 at 01:00

Those starting secondary school in England this week will be the first in the UK required to stay in full-time education until age 17. In two years, English pupils starting secondary will see the school-leaving age raised again to 18.

This policy is wrong. For many 16-year-olds, better routes to success exist outside the classroom, in the world of work. A new batch of classroom-taught vocational diplomas won't give young people practical on- the-job skills so many businesses need. Get them into work and train them there.

It will disrupt schools, produce fewer skilled people and be a failure. Meanwhile, the Government's real crime will be to have wasted the potential of those 16-year-olds, unsuited to higher education, who would relish the kind of trade apprenticeship I was privileged to take up at 16.

I hope any plans to import this misguided policy north of the border gain no mileage at Holyrood.

Gerard Eadie, chairman, CR Smith and vice-chair of the Prince's Trust in Scotland.

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