Cut school leaving age to 14, says Sir Chris Woodhead

 
Secondary school children using a computer Sir Chris Woodhead says children should be able to leave school at the age of 14

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The school leaving age should be cut to 14, a former chief inspector of schools in England has said.

Sir Chris Woodhead told the Times that this would give less academic students a better chance of learning a trade.

He said it was a "recipe for disaster" to force teenagers to study English and maths right up to the age of 18.

Sir Chris said it was a mistake to make vocational education "quasi-academic" and added that the government had a "Utopian" view of school standards.

He said: "If a child at 14 has mastered basic literacy and numeracy, I would be very happy for that child to leave school and go into a combination of apprenticeship and further education training and a practical, hands-on, craft-based training that takes them through into a job."

Sir Chris added: "Does anybody seriously think these kids who are truanting at 13, 14 are going to stay in school in a purposeful, meaningful way through to 18.

"It just seems to me the triumph of ideological hope over reality."

Sir Chris backed the government's plans to improve reading in primary schools using the synthetic phonics teaching method.

He wanted to see the proportion of children who reach the literacy target at the age of 11 rise from just over 80% to 95%.

But Sir Chris, who was chief inspector of the education watchdog Ofsted until 2000 and is now chairman of for-profit schools company Cognita, criticised Prime Minister David Cameron's call for independent schools to sponsor academies as "morally wrong".

"The more that the science facilities or the playing fields are used by non fee-paying children, the less they are available for the parents of children who do pay the fees," he said.

"If the head of science teaches half a day a week at a comprehensive school, it may be good for the comprehensive school, but I don't think it is good for the children who are in the private school."

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 727.

    613.Read Animal Farm ...
    As you imply, Trade Union Leaders, do very well. However, their benefits are hard to research even if you were a union member? The same with Permanent Secretaries?.

    You could extend the argument - just what benefits do Trades Unions bring except to their leaders? This is the 21st century not the 19th!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 726.

    I think you'll find educated parents instill the value education in their children.

    Learning in a classroom with those who aren't interested in subjects only holds back those who are. Although 14 seems too young, perhaps if they were offered courses in something which gives them incentive they would fare better. Idle hands would be a problem.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 725.

    What a great 'half' an idea.
    Anybody who has worked in challenging schools knows that there's a group of people who improve little from age 13 or 14 or so. What an improvement for these kids (and for schools) if we stopped trying to force these young adults to remain in such an environment.
    BUT: We can't use this as an excuse to fail them. Let's open the debate and find some great alternatives.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 724.

    Raymond Hopkins and others who think Finland is doing a great job educating its citizenry to the age of 19 and encouraging yet further qualification, please consider that the job-entering age of Finnish young adults is now so high that by the time they start seeking for employment corresponding their education they are often considered lacking in experience in real hands-on work.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 723.

    Weren't the gov. going to raise the school-leaving age a little while ago?
    Initiatives look like you're useful to some people..

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 722.

    Hardly a new idea. 52 years ago, I was among the first 11+ pupils to attend a local Technical School in West London. Up until then.the pupil intake had all failed the 11+ but later succeeded at 13+. Virtually ALL these ''failures'' went on later to UNI or college courses and ended up as skilled engineers, scientists, teachers. etc. Leave school at 14 NO, but offer alternative schooling YES.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 721.

    Possible the most stupidest idea I have heard. If implemented it would mean some children failing earlier, turning to crime earlier and/or receiving benefits earlier.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 720.

    Why doesn't the government do what they are good at and outsource a few more hundred jobs to India?!! And add a few more thousand people to the dole queue?!! Whatever happened to the pledge of "British Jobs for British Workers"?! No wonder so many of our young people are disillusioned!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 719.

    Absolutely ludicrous. If anything it should be changed so that kids who can't read, write and do basic maths should be kept on until they can.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 718.

    Great idea, we could open up all the closed coal mines and send them down the pits pushing coal trucks for 12 hours a day. Oh no we made that illegal didn't we. Can't understand why!! Employers have no wish to exploit the young. However Mr Woodhead has one thing right, an education is not suitable for all, as the money was certainly wasted on him.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 717.

    Deplorable. Sir Chris could be a character in a Dickens story. His comments are so out of touch. Students need to be believed in and nurtured when they have doubts in their ability and confidence. They need opportunities to succeed where they think they cannot. And his 'head of science' comment is despicable - students have the same range of ability regardless of background.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 716.

    Let's go back to the turn of the century - that LAST one that is.
    It is not just about academic ability Mr Woodenhead, it is also about PRIVILEGE. I doubt that I would have been able to stay at school when I was a child (as it was I left at 15). I hated factory work, which I was expected to do - but guess what? I retired with two masters and a first degree. This is a harebrained scheme!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 715.

    Ridiculous!
    We have an under-educated population already, in addition to that we have massive youth unemployment, with dozens of kids chasing every available job - and his answer to that is to add thousands and thousands of children to the unemployment register. every penny saved on education would be written off by the massive increase in Jobseeker's Allowance that would have to be paid.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 714.

    662.suzkid.
    "If some kids find reading, writing & a few sums 'challenging' then they are fit only for derision."

    I'm another dyslexic. I have 9 pass grade GCSE's, 2 A Levels, an HNC and 3 City&Guilds and I went to Uni. Am I fit for derision because I struggled and chose to retake several exams?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 713.

    The only reason employers would be interestd in this idea is if the minimum wage didn't apply to children, otherwise what's the difference between a 14yo and a 16yo as far as training is concerned? Apart from the fact that a 16yo is more mature and probably would be safer in a workplace environment.
    It's an open invitation to bring back poorly-paid child labour, what next? Send them up chimneys?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 712.

    Leave school at 14 but only if they are to be trained at a trade, if they drop out of the trade, then its back to school until 16

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 711.

    Leave at 14 to do what - how many will cease to persue a further education taking teh easy route out?

    For us to then have to endure uneducated, immature totally out of control youths hanging around on street corners and becoming a real menace to society?

    The fool(s) that thought this one through need(s) a good swift kick of reality up their backside - de evolution in progress!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 710.

    Lets not go back to the past everyone deserves and education to the best of their ability. But in the same way as opening up higher education to more has thrown kids on the scrapheap as supply exceeded demand, lets not make the same mistake with this by creating school leavers with no job to go to. Schools could become more broad and offer vocational teaching in partnership with local industry.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 709.

    This is going backwards. Why not look at what these kids are being offered at school and make adjustments accordingly.

    "Sir Chris" obviously has fanciful ideas that these kids are going to be gainfully employed somewhere, down a pit, or in a foundry, or up a chimney perhaps?

    The gulf grows wider between the "haves" and the "have nots" thanks to idiots like this.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 708.

    Sounds like a good way to reenforce class distinctions. Create an undereducated underclass and give them bread and circuses. Maybe a better idea would be to realize that the 14 yr old is failing and move them toward a vocational school so they could learn some real world skills. This would allow them to experience success which in turn might motivate them, to further their education.

 

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