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Raising the participation age (RPA)

In the 2013/14 academic year, the Government changed the law so that all young people are required to continue in education or training until:

  • the end of the academic year in which they turn 17; and

  • this rises to their 18th birthday from summer 2015.

The information here will help you to understand what this means for you and your child.

If your child is currently in year 11 they will need to continue in education or training until at least the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. A child currently in year 10 or below will need to continue until at least their 18th birthday.

This does not necessarily mean staying in school; young people will have a choice about how they continue in education or training post-16, which could be through:

Why are things being changed?

The vast majority of 16 and 17 year olds already continue in some form of education or training. However, the small group of young people not participating includes some of the most vulnerable. The Government wants to give all young people the opportunity to develop the skills they need for adult life and to achieve their full potential.

What does this mean for me?

The legal requirement to participate will be on your son or daughter. The Government is investing more than ever to provide fully-funded education and training places for all 16-19 year-olds who want to take them.

The law has changed to make schools responsible for securing independent careers guidance for their pupils in years 8-13. This is because your child's school or college is best placed to secure the advice and support they need to help them decide what option is best for them. Your child can also contact trained advisers for impartial advice at the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900 (open from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week) – and they can use the web-chat service by accessing the website at https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/.

Southampton City Council is also responsible for making sure all of its young residents have a suitable offer of a place in education or training.

What happens if my child doesn't participate?

The law is changing, but there will be no action taken against any young people who don't participate. The Government wants to encourage your child to participate because of the benefits it will bring – this is the reason why the vast majority of 16 and 17 year-olds already choose to continue in education or training. By changing the law, the Government is making sure that all young people have the opportunity to access the learning option that's right for them and improve their long-term prospects.

Southampton City Council is responsible for identifying and supporting its 16-17 year olds who are not participating and will be working to ensure that young people are enrolled on a suitable education or training place.

Is financial support available for my child?

The 16-19 Bursary Fund provides financial support to help with essential education-related costs like transport to their school or college, a lunchtime meal or any equipment they might need for their course. You can find out more about the 16-19 Bursary Fund.

Where can I find out more?

More information on RPA is available on GOV.UK.

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