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School CurriculumLeaving Age

School Leaving Age: When Can You Leave?

The area where you live determines the school leaving age in the United Kingdom. Find out the age you can leave school in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

LEAVING SCHOOL: The introduction of compulsory education first began way back in 1870.

Since that date, the government have raised the school leaving age several times for teenagers in England and Wales.

The age for leaving school increased from 15 to 16 in 1972. That change took eight years of planning before it became the new school leaving age.

The most recent law changes for determining when you can leave school occurred in 2013. New UK legislation now means the school leaving age remains at 16 years old - but with some conditions.

School Leaving Age in England

As a rule, in England you can leave school on the last Friday in June. That is providing you will turn 16 years old before the end of that year's summer holidays.

But, you can only leave school at the age of 16 if you are continuing through to the age of 18 years old in one of the following:

Note: The school term and school holiday dates vary across the United Kingdom. Your local council website has current school terms and holiday dates for your child.

School Leaving Age: When Can You Leave UK?School Leaving Age in Scotland

Turning 16 between the 1st of March and the 30th of September means you can leave school after the 31st of May of that same year in Scotland.

Those who turn 16 between the 1st of October and the end of February can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that particular school year.

School Leaving Age in Wales

Providing you will be 16 years old by the end of the summer holidays that same year you can leave school on the last Friday in June in Wales.

School Leaving Age in Northern Ireland

Those who reach 16 during the school year (1st of September to 1st of July) can finish school after the 30th of June.

But, if you will be 16 between the 2nd of July and the 31st of August you cannot leave until the 30th of June in the following year.

Extra Financial Help for Education Costs

You can apply for a 16 to 19 Bursary Fund in England. This can help to cover some of the costs of further education.

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have a similar program. You can apply for Education Maintenance Allowance to help pay for the cost of studying.

School Leaving Age in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland