- Site Feedback
- IDEA Sites
- Digital Freedoms
- International Justice
- 2012 Presidential Debates Guide
- Asia Youth Forum
- Big Apple Cogers
- Debate Changing Europe
- Debate in the Neighborhood
- Debating and Producing Media
- Debating the Future of Youth in Africa and Europe
- Dialogue without borders
- Digital Debating Blog
- Free Speech Debate
- Global Youth Forum
- Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge
- International Public Policy Forum
- Online Mentoring
- Securing Liberty Series
- Youth and Sports Mega-Events
- League of Young Voters
This House Would Raise The School Leaving Age To 18
This House Would Raise The School Leaving Age To 18
In many countries, school attendance is mandatory for all children up to a specific age. Children often then have the choice of staying on at school for further education and possible preparation for university or college entrance, or leaving to pursue a job or professional training. In India this is 14 years of age: in the UK and many other countries it is 16, although the UK government now has plans to raise the school leaving age to 18. School leaving ages are often linked to when young people are seen to become adults in their society, because the state would rather not compel adults to do what they do not want to do. However, there is often some grey area between when children are granted some privileges (for example the right to smoke, have sex or learn to drive) but not all rights (i.e. the right to vote). In most countries young people can choose to leave school at least two years before they are considered mature enough to vote. Economists are also divided over the effect of young workers in the workforce as opposed to the benefits of increased skills levels among the workforce. While School based education is usually taken to mean academic subjects it may also involve vocational training within a school or college environment.
|Points For||Points Against|
|More education brings more opportunities||Forced education achieves little|
|Raising the school-leaving age is a crucial investment in society's future||Not all skills are best learnt in a classroom environment.|
|Raising the school learning age promotes equal opportunities||There are cases where leaving school early is necessary|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
More education brings more opportunities
More education provides the opportunity to acquire more skills and therefore more options. It has been shown many times that those with more education find it easier to find work and that they are more likely to find that work satisfying. Similarly, the level of education among the population can have a positive effect on the economy as a whole as they can be more efficient workers. The impact of extra years of education on earnings and economic productivity is also disproportionately heavy at the lower end - that is, two more years at school for a 16 year old will make a much greater percentage difference to their later economic worth than two years of graduate work for a 22 year old. The UK has recently raised the school leaving age to 18 for the same reasons.
 Browne, Anthony and Webster, Philip, ‘School leaving age goes up to 18’, 2007 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article1292132...
This argument suggests that children whom Britain's state schools have failed to teach even to read and write should be compelled to stay at those schools for an extra two years. It will not suddenly bring new opportunities just because children are forced to sit in a classroom for longer.
This is absurd. It is re-enforcing failure. It is an idea according to which, if climbing a mountain on your hands and knees does not work, then you should be made to go on doing it.
 Bartholomew, James, ‘Raising the school-leaving age would be crazy’, 2006, http://www.thewelfarestatewerein.com/archives/2006/12/raising_the_sch.php
Raising the school-leaving age is a crucial investment in society's future
Doing so increases the economic potential of the future workforce, and so will bring increased tax revenues in the long term to more than cover any initial costs. Although some countries would experience a more dramatic change than others, it is worth noting that in many states a very large majority of young people voluntarily stay in education beyond the end of compulsory schooling (e.g. France, Germany and Japan). In the UK 84 per cent of pupils in year 10 stated that they had intentions to stay on in further education. If these countries can already bear the extra cost without economic collapse, it should be possible for others to cope as well.
 Office for National Statistics. Social Trends. 2009, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_social/Social_Trends39/Social_Trends_39.pdf, ch 3
The cost of extending the period of compulsory education is just too high. In many countries the number of students in the last two years of formal schooling would at least double, requiring a huge investment in teachers, books, new school buildings, computers, etc. And this is just the direct cost - there are also potentially enormous indirect losses to the state in terms of the taxes and pension contributions which it currently receives from young workers but would forego if the school-leaving age was raised.Improve this
Raising the school learning age promotes equal opportunities
Ensuring everyone gets educated for the same amount of time at school should promote equality. Currently early-school leaving is linked with other indicators of socio-economic disadvantage, such as low-income jobs or high unemployment. More importantly parents who left school young and as a consequence have lower-grade occupations are more likely to have children who leave school early (only 60% of those children stay in education past 16). Forcing all children to stay in school longer could break this cycle of disadvantage.
 Ibid, ch 3
Unfortunately equality in the job market is unlikely to emerge simply because everyone now stays in school for the same amount of time. As noted above, not everyone will get the same out of school for being there the same time. Those who achieve the best exam results will still be the most employable, especially if they go into tertiary education before finding a job.Improve this
Forced education achieves little
Unfortunately just being in school does not guarantee that a student is learning. If they lack aptitude, ability or interest the extra time in the classroom is likely to benefit them very little, especially when they have not chosen to be there. It also poses a sharp divide on the question of disruptive children. If they are excluded from school their disadvantage is extended over more years while if they are included, they damage the education of others in their class for even longer. As Henry Phibbs argues “Increasing the school-leaving age will not result in more being learned – just more broken windows in the locality of the school. Children fed up with school need an escape route, not an extension of their sentence.”
 Phibbs, H., ‘Let them leave school at 14’, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/07/education-youngpeople
UK statistics plainly show “There is no evidence that raising the minimum school leaving age made people who had not intended to leave at the minimum age raise their educational standard. This is consistent with the view that education raises productivity and not with the view that productive people get more education.”
 Zhu, Y., & Walker, I. Education, earnings and productivity: recent UK evidence, 2003, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/labour_market_trends/education_Mar...
Not all skills are best learnt in a classroom environment.
Practical skills (for example carpentry, cookery, gardening etc.), are often best learnt ‘on-the-job’ or through an apprenticeship. Both routes place young people into contact with professionals in the field as well as giving them access to a wider range of tools and materials than could possibly be available in schools. For many young people who would like to work in these areas extra years at school will merely be time ‘treading water’ before they can get on with learning the skills of their trade. This is even more alarming in the case of the UK with the new tuition fees for universities, which are likely to decrease the chances of certain socio-economic categories of going to university at all.Improve this
Practical Skills can be taught in school. Many school systems have vocational schools. For example the German system vocational schools, Berufsschulen, have been around since the 19th Century where students spent part of their time in vocational training in the school and part of their time as apprentices, these are attended until at least the age of 18. It is possible for Schooling to be flexible while still continuing to 18.
 Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany London, ‘Education’, 2011, http://www.london.diplo.de/Vertretung/london/en/06/Study/Education__seit...
There are cases where leaving school early is necessary
Working early can be an advantage in some circumstances. Many families need their children to make an economic contribution to the family income, often for example on a farm or in a family business. Working early can help these families to survive. Similarly unqualified individuals can gain equality or even an advantage over their qualified peers by having a few years’ work-experience ‘on-the-shop-floor’. If they are forced to stay in school as long as their peers they lose this advantage. Recognizing this, the British government introduced 21,000 extra apprenticeships in 2009 in an attempt to ensure those who aren’t suited to school do not fall behind when it comes to finding a job and a sustainable income. (Lipsett, 2009)Improve this
Leaving school early is not necessary. Simply in a few cases there is a need for more government intervention in order to make sure that everyone is able to afford to remain in school up to the age of 18. If children are unqualified at 16 then there is all the more reason to teach them the basics that they have failed to grasp for two more years. There could also be some exceptions as in the British system where there are exemptions for under-18s who are caring for parents or relatives, and for teenage mothers.
 Browne, Anthony and Webster, Philip, ‘School leaving age goes up to 18’, 2007, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article1292132...
Bartholomew, J. (2006, December 6). Raising the school-leaving age would be crazy. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from The Welfare State We're In: http://www.thewelfarestatewerein.com/archives/2006/12/raising_the_sch.php
Browne, A., & Webster, P. (2007, January 12). School leaving age goes up to 18. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from The Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article1292132.ece
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany London, (2011, 9 March). ‘Education’, Retrieved October 5, 2011, from london.diplo.de, http://www.london.diplo.de/Vertretung/london/en/06/Study/Education__seite.html
Lipsett, A. (2009, February 23). Thousands leaving schools before GCSEs. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/feb/23/gcse-school-drop-out-rates
Office for National Statistics. (2009, April 15). Social Trends. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from Office for National Statistics: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_social/Social_Trends39/Social_Trends_39.pdf
Phibbs, H. (2009, January 7). Let them leave school at 14. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/07/education-youngpeople
RTE News. (2009, May 13). Early school leavers earn lower wages. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from RTE News: http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0513/esri.html
Zhu, Y., & Walker, I. (2003). Education, earnings and productivity: recent UK evidence. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from Office of National Statistics: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/labour_market_trends/education_Mar03.pdf
Curate this debate
If you are an academic or highly knowledgeable about a particular debate could you give an hour or two a month to curate a debate?
Be a debatabase editor
Idebate needs editors from around the world to check, moderate and create content for debatabase and the site more generally. Editors are vital in making the site run smoothly and ensuring that debates are as informative as possible.