Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Raising the participation age: A wasted opportunity

I know that several schools have been taking time to consider the implications of Raising the Participation Age (RPA).

Those with Sixth Forms are thinking about how they can create spaces for students who traditionally leave at 16.  Those without are thinking about how they can help their students make progress to other provision.

The DfE state that:

From summer 2013, young people will be required to continue in education or training to the end of the academic year in which they turn 17, and from summer 2015 they will be required to stay until their 18th birthday. This does not mean young people will be required to stay in school. There will be three ways in which young people can participate post-16: full-time education in a school or college; an apprenticeship; part-time accredited learning if they are in full-time employment or volunteering.
Many people assume that this means that NEETs will no longer exist.  However, the sad fact is that they will.  To understand this we need to consider what happens in the future if a student leaves school aged 16.

As the school leaving age has not been raised to 17, parents are not responsible for ensuring that their child remains in education until 17.  Schools have no additional duties to ensure that students remain in education or training.  There are also no requirements for the students themselves.  The only duty is upon the Local Authority.  The DfE guidance states that:

The Education and Skills Act places additional duties on local authorities in relation to RPA:
  • Promoting the effective participation of all 16 and 17 year old residents in your area; and
  • Making arrangements to identify young people resident in your area who are not participating
So any student who refuses to stay on until 17 will be 'identified'.  Then what?  Nothing as far as I can see.  Once students realise that nothing happens then nothing will change for the NEETs.  What a wasted opportunity!

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