LEAVING SCHOOL: The introduction of compulsory education first began way back in 1870.
Since that date, the government has 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 sixteen (16) years old – but with some conditions attached.
School Leaving Age in England
So, what you want to know is can you leave school at 16? As a rule, in England you can finish 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:
- Work-based learning (e.g. you become an apprentice or find a traineeship program).
- Full-time education (e.g. at school or a college).
- Part-time education or accredited training (spending at least 20 hours per week working or volunteering).
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 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 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 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 to help with education-related costs in England. This can help to cover some of the fees required for studying in further education programmes.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have a similar program to help you with the costs of studying. Hence, you can apply for Education Maintenance Allowance to help pay for the cost of studying.