When is a plan not a plan?
The remarks, made by Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, at a Westminster lunch, were a very belated response to proposals made by former Conservative education secretary Rab Butler back in the 1940s. He wanted to raise the school leaving age to 18. And while a spokesman admitted Mr Johnson found this an "interesting" idea, visions of locking children in classrooms to sweat over algebraic equations appear to be wide of the mark.
Rather than raising the leaving age, Labour's plans centre on encouraging 90 per cent of 17-year-olds to undertake some form of education or training by 2015. The emphasis is on work-related learning. The crucial message being: "we would not expect you to be sitting behind a desk doing Romeo and Juliet," according to Mr Johnson.The proportion of 18-year-olds in education or training last year was 59.7 per cent.