“This is all about making sure young people have the skills and options available to them that will help them make the right decisions for their future”

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New rules are coming for keeping students in class or training until they are 18.

Any pupil in Year 11 in September, 2013, will be expected to continue in education or training until at least the end of the school year in which they turn 17. If they are currently in Year 10 or below, they will be required to continue until at least their 18th birthday.

But Medway Council and Kent County Council insist this is not about raising the school leaving age.

It’s called ‘Raising the Participation Age’. Students will be encouraged to continue in full-time education, such as school or college; take on an apprenticeship; or get involved in a part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week.

Already, more than three quarter of already choose to continue in education or training, but the new government policy is determined to ensure that figure hits 100 per cent.

Those affected in Kent and Medway are due to receive letters explaining the changes and encourage young people to think about their options after Year 11.

KCC said taking part in education and training after leaving school gives a better chance to acquire skills and qualifications that universities and employers are looking for. Already, those with two or more A-levels tend to each around 14 per cent more than those that don’t.

Patrick Leeson, KCC corporate director for education, learning and skills, said: “There is a wide variety of opportunities for education and training in Kent and beyond. University, employment-based training and college are just three ways of looking at an exciting moment in the lives of young people. The difference that this education can make is enormous and the ‘Raising Participation Age’ initiative is a welcome chance to shine the spotlight on those opportunities. I would like to encourage all young people to take a close look at the possibilities and make the most of them.”

And Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC cabinet member for the same department, added: “By ensuring that young people are given the opportunity to gain better qualifications by either staying in education longer, going into worthwhile jobs with training or taking an apprenticeship, they can increase the opportunities open to them later in life, and gain the skills that are much-sought after by Kent’s employers.”

Medway Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, Cllr Les Wicks, said: “This is all about making sure young people have the skills and options available to them that will help them make the right decisions for their future, and ultimately, equip them to succeed in today’s economy.

“We’ve been working closely with schools, colleges and employers to make sure students are thinking ahead and have all the right information and support available to them.

“Here in Medway we have a diverse and exciting range of study and training options on offer, which includes our ongoing bid to bring a University Technical College to the area, and I’m pleased that we were chosen as a pilot area to help promote all of these options to young people.”

The council is also taking part in a pilot preparing students for the changes with DVDs and other materials detailing options and arranging school workshops.

There is also a recent bid for a University Technical College for 14- to 19-year-olds specialising in construction and engineering. It also runs a successful apprenticeships scheme.

For more information, visit www.kentchoices4u.com.

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