Compulsory education to 18 is nearer

A SHAKE-UP in schooling for Sheffield's teenagers is on the way, paving the way for the introduction of compulsory education or training up to the age of 18.

A blueprint for reforms of the education system for 14 to 19-year-olds has been agreed by the city council Cabinet, with the changes expected to be the biggest seen for more than a decade.

The effective raising of the school leaving age to 18 is not expected to come into force until 2015, but the education landscape begins to change next year with the abolition of the national Learning and Skills Council.

The LSC has been the organisation responsible for overseeing all post-16 education and training, and has been in operation since 2000.

In future, strategic planning for education and training for teenagers will be the responsibility of the council and other local partners.

Cabinet member for children's services Coun Andrew Sangar said the aim was to ensure young people can access appropriate education and training. He said: "By providing the right courses in the right places, not just at schools and colleges but other places of learning as well, this will help young people across Sheffield achieve better marks and raise their aspirations.

"Taking the responsibility for 14-19 learning from the LSC gives us a real opportunity to strengthen the partnership with schools and colleges.

"Through this we can give all learners more choice, better programmes and a chance to exceed their own expectations."

The plan includes increasing the choice of courses that can be taken by the city's teenagers.

Planners hope this will raise aspirations, which will in turn improve the qualifications achieved by young people, all of which will benefit the city in the long run.

Options include traditional GCSEs and A-levels, along with 17 new Diploma courses, volunteer work and apprenticeships.

Essential skills in literacy, numeracy and IT will be built into all courses to enable youngsters to succeed in any walk of adult life.

Other key objectives include making sure young people and their parents have access to the best information, advice and guidance to help them choose the right courses.

Young people can get involved in the design of the courses on offer, while another goal will be to improve the post-16 staying on rate.

The aim is to ensure that those most likely to drop out can find something to encourage them to continue with their education or training.

"In order to best prepare young people for life and work in the 21st century we need to unite behind this comprehensive and cohesive plan for 14 to 19 learning," Coun Sangar added.

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