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Future learning

13 July 2015

The government has introduced changes to the age at which young people can leave education or training. Young people who left compulsory education in June 2013 have to remain in learning until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. If you're in Year 11 or below, the change means you'll have to remain in learning until at least your 18th birthday. 

Is school my only option?

No, there are a number of options to choose from:
  • Full-time study at school sixth form or sixth form college
  • Full-time work, self-employment or volunteering combined with part-time study
  • Part-time education or training while in work, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours a week or more
  • An apprenticeship
  • Traineeships leading to full-time apprenticeships or college

Frequently asked questions

Why has this happened?
Participating in education or training beyond the age of 16 offers you the opportunity to get qualifications and experience that can significantly increase your prospects of future employment and earnings. According to the government:
  • people with five or more GCSEs at A*-C earn, on average, 9-11% more than those without
  • getting two or more A-levels leads to men earning £80,000 and women £110,000 more over the course of their lifetime than someone whose highest attainment is five or more GCSEs
  • getting a level 3 apprenticeship increases earnings by an estimated £105,000 and a level 2 apprenticeship by £73,000

Can I work full-time?
Yes, if you want to, or you can volunteer or even set up a business - but you'll also need to undertake part-time study in order to meet the duty to participate. This will give you the opportunity to achieve accredited qualifications.
The amount of time you study will depend on your course and should be approximately one day a week or maybe two evenings a week. 
I have a job and just need training, where do I go?
To find a training provider, call your local college and explain you have a job and would like training, they will arrange to talk with you and the employer.
Where can I find out about accredited qualifications?

Is there any financial help?
If you're in full-time education, at college or in a sixth form, you may receive financial support to help with essential education-related costs like transport to your school or college, a lunchtime meal or any equipment for your course through the 16-19 bursary fund.  
I have a summer job, can I only apply for a part-time course at college?
You're free to take a summer job and then go onto to a full-time course from September. If you decide to stay in full-time work you'll need to combine it with part-time study. You should be working over 20 hours a week and studying one day or two evenings a week. 
I have a job and don’t want to go into learning, what will happen?
Currently, there are no regulations. However, think about the future and whether moving jobs with no accredited qualifications will hinder your prospects and salary.
More young people are obtaining qualifications, which will mean greater competition at interviews. Qualifications may give you the edge over other candidates. 
What happens if I'm not doing anything?
Your job prospects are greatly reduced without relevant skills or work experience. If you're unemployed and want to talk about your next steps, call our Employment Intervention Team on
0800 707 6384. 
What if I'm educated at home?
The Department for Education states: "For young people who are being home educated, no hourly requirement of education applies: the amount and content of that education is at the discretion of the home educator. In most circumstances it will be the young person themselves who states that they are home-educated. If the authority believes there is some doubt in the matter they may wish to seek confirmation of this from the parent or guardian, but no on-going monitoring of the education is required."

If you're educated at home and would like to talk about your post-16 options you can contact the National Careers Service 0800 100 900.
I have a Statement of Special Educational Needs, what does that mean for me?
If you have a Statement of Special Educational Needs you will have been working with a transition pathway service personal adviser since Year 9. They will have talked to you about your thoughts and plans for the future. During your last year at school your adviser will set out what support you will need to carry on in education, whether that's going to college or starting training.
Where can I find out more information?
If you're at school or college your careers teacher or adviser can provide information. You can also attend college open events.

If you're unemployed call our Employment Intervention Team on 0800 707 6384 to be referred to your local adviser.

The National Careers Service provides careers information and impartial advice through webchat, text or telephone. Calls are free from a landline. If you call from a mobile an adviser can ring you back so you won’t be charged. Call 0800 100 900 between 8am-10pm.

To find out more about the courses on offer locally contact your education providers through their websites or attend their open events. Your school will give you more information on the options and education providers available.
To find out more about apprenticeships you can:
For information about traineeships visit or talk with your local college.

Financial support 
A bursary scheme is in place to help 16- to 19-year-olds in full-time education who most need financial support. For more information, check with your sixth form or college.   
For general information about the bursary scheme and other allowances visit GOV.UK or call the Learner Support helpline on 0800 121 8989.