School leaving age

When can I leave school?

You can leave school on the last Friday in June as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that year’s summer holidays. You must stay in some form of education or training until your 18th birthday.

Does this mean I have to stay at school until I'm 18?

No - it's not just about staying at school. There are more opportunities for young people than ever before. These include:

  • full-time education, such as school or college
  • work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship
  • part-time accredited learning if you are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week.

How will staying on in learning after year 11 benefit me?

Research shows that people who continue education post-16 are more likely to:

  • enter and remain in education
  • receive the skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience to improve your future prospects
  • have an improved quality of life.

For example, young people who gain five or more GCSEs grades A* to C or equivalent can earn on average around £100,000 more over their lifetime than someone who leaves learning with fewer qualifications.

Having more qualifications also helps to reduce the risk of having long periods of unemployment.

Where can I find out more?

Your school is responsible for securing independent and impartial careers guidance for every student in Years 9-13 on the full range of post-16 education and training options, including apprenticeships. You can talk to your teachers about what guidance is available.

The National Careers Service

The National Careers Service makes it easy to find information about education, training and work with professional, impartial advice. You can get advice online, over the phone or face to face.

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