When can I leave school?

So you thought you were going to leave school at 16, but now everyone’s saying the Government’s increasing the participation age to 18. Confused? Don’t worry, The Mix is here to clear things up.

Girl dreaming of leaving school

Is it time to go home yet?

Do I have to stay in school until I’m 18?

Yes – if you were born after September 1997, you’ll have to stay in training or education until you’re 18.

Do I really have to stay in actual school?

The age of participation has been raised, not the school leaving age. That means if you can’t wait to get away from the desk and into the work place, there are still ways you can do this.

Here are your options:

  • Carry on with your education, do a BTEC, A levels, IB – whichever you fancy – at school, college or in home education.
  • Do an apprenticeship.
  • Combine part-time studying and training. This means you can get a job, start a business, or volunteer for 20 hours or more a week, at the same time as getting a qualification.

Don’t know what to do? Part of the changes means schools now have to provide impartial guidance, so ask your teachers how you can access this. You can also have a chat with the National Careers Service, call them on: 0800 100900, or text on 07766 413219.

I can’t afford to stay in school or training

There’s a Bursary Fund of £1,200 being introduced for essentials, such as travel to school, lunch, and any equipment you might need. This is mainly for people in (or who have been in) care, those claiming income support, or disabled people.

However, if you don’t fit into one of these groups you may still be eligible for a bursary. Talk to your school, college or training provider about it.

What if I just don’t go?

Well, you would be breaking the law. The Government isn’t introducing fines yet, but if lots of young people flout the law, they plan to start.

Photo of girl daydreaming by Shutterstock

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015