From education to employment

Draft bill aimed at keeping all 16-18 year olds in education or training

Gordon Brown has today announced plans to introduce legislation that will raise the school leaving age to 18. The Education and Skills Bill was one of 23 outlined by the Prime Minster today in his “summer statement”. The aim of the Bill is to ensure that all children up to the age of 18 are in some form of education or training, as set out in the Leitch Report.

Gordon Brown said:” A new educational opportunity bill will mean that for the first time not just some but all young people will stay in education or training until 18.”

The draft Bill will meet the recommendations of the Leitch Review to increase employer investment and drive up the nations skills so that the UK is achieving world class skills by 2020.

There will also be provisions within the Bill, as per Leitch recommendations, to provide access for adult learners to basic literacy and numeracy skills and achieve Level 2 qualifications.

The Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, Dr John Brennan, Association of Colleges Chief Executive, said:Two thirds of young people age 16-18 in education study in colleges. Raising the age of leaving education and training is an essential step towards equipping all young people with the skills and knowledge needed for personal success, and towards overcoming that legacy of underperformance which continues to hold back the British economy.

“Individuals, employers and the nation will all benefit from the revolution in our national attitudes to learning it will engender. FE colleges ““ which already play a key role in transforming the life chances of so many young people ““ will expect to play a major role in delivering this ambitious new goal.

“But all concerned must be ready to play their part ““ Government in providing adequate resources for institutions, and learning support for young people; employers in committing to training for all young employees; colleges, schools and other learning providers in creating attractive learning programmes; and families in helping and motivating their children to aspire to the best.”

The leaders of the Opposition were sceptical of Gordon Brown’s announcements today. David Cameron, Conservative leader dismissed the proposals saying they were nothing new. Menzies Campbell, Lib Dem leader said that in order to make the Education and Skills Bill work it was important to offer a curriculum that was relevant to those who otherwise would have left school.

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