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Youngsters should not be coerced into staying in education past the age of 16, the UCU has said. College lecturers, at their conference today, urged the government to abandon plans to force youngsters to stay on in education until the age of eighteen.

FE lecturers, at the annual congress of the University and College Union (UCU), unanimously supported an emergency motion which opposed any government plans to use coercion and the threat of criminal/civil action to make students stay on in education.

The union was responding to the governments green paper on the issue, and is submitting a formal, detailed response.

UCU joint general secretary Sally Hunt told the conference in Bournemouth that enforcement should not be used:

We all know that school students should be encouraged to continue their education beyond the age of 16 but they should not be conscripted into staying on until 18.

Professional teachers know that compulsion is not the way to motivate young people. The key is to examine the curriculum and student needs. Employers also have a responsibility to release young staff to study while being paid.

The Government published a green paper in March, Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16, which set out proposals to make it compulsory for teenagers to stay in school or training until the age of 18. The proposal would apply from 2015. Under the proposals, if a teenager refused to attend school or training, they would be liable to punitive measures enforced by their LEA, and ultimately face a penalty fine for non-attendance.

Rosie Spowart

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