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Clause 1

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 31st January 2008.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 2:00 pm, 31st January 2008

In response, I shall quote the Association of School and College Leaders, which said:

“One of the strengths of the Bill is that it is not raising the school-leaving age—it is not saying to these young people, “You must continue in school or college.” Instead, it is giving them alternative routes, which potentially will lead them in the right direction.”——[Official Report, Education and Skills Public Bill Committee, 22 January 2008; c. 63, Q159.]

I agree with that. It would be wrong for us, or for young people’s advisers to tell them what choice to make. Equally, it is right to say to young people, “Doing nothing is not a choice”. Clearly, I disagree on that point with the British Youth Council. In an evidence session, Barnardo’s told us

“that children should be viewed as such until their 18th birthday... we do not share the view that a 16-year-old can make an informed, autonomous decision that...could have such a catastrophic effect on their future”.——[Official Report, Education and Skills Public Bill Committee, 22 January 2008; c. 13, Q27.]