School Leaving Age

Legal references on this page apply to England.

Raising the Participation Age in England from 16 to 18

Statutory guidance last updated October 2016. Please note that in 2011 the Government legislated formally to delay the enforcement provisions in the Education and Skills Act 2008 ("commenced at a point to be decided by the Secretary of State") and therefore enforcement and sanctions do NOT form part of the current law, although they are in the original Act.

Paragraph 8: For young people who are being home educated, no hourly requirement of education applies. The amount and content of the home education is at the discretion of the home educator. In most circumstances it will be the young person themselves who states that they are home educated. If the authority believes there is some doubt in the matter, they may wish to seek confirmation of this from the parent or guardian, but no on- going monitoring of the education is required. If the authority has evidence to suggest that a young person who claims to be home educated is not, then they would be expected to clarify the position with the young person.
Statutory guidance

In other words, LAs are not expected or required to have any involvement in post-16 home education, and in fact there is no legal power for them to do so. However, some LAs will contact home educating families as the young person turns 16 to ask about future plans, since LAs have to return information to the government about the rate of post-16 participation in their area. There is no obligation on the family to respond but if there is no answer the young person may be recorded as NEET (not in employment education or training)

DfE Tracks LA Performance Delivering RPA Duty

Paragraph 10. Tracking young people’s participation is a key element of these duties. Local authorities are required to collect information about young people so that those who are not participating, or are NEET, can be identified and given support to re-engage. Robust tracking also provides the local authority with information that will help to ensure that suitable education and training provision is available and that resources can be targeted effectively.
11. In addition, ESA 2008 placed two RPA-related duties on local authorities with regard to 16 and 17 year olds: • Local authorities must promote the effective participation in education and training of 16 and 17 year olds in their area with a view to ensuring that those persons fulfil the duty to participate in education or training3. A key element of this is identifying the young people in their area who are covered by the duty to participate and encouraging them to find a suitable education or training place.
Local authorities must make arrangements – i.e. maintain a tracking system - to identify 16 and 17 year olds who are not participating in education or training4. Putting in place robust arrangements to identify young people who are not engaged in education or training or who have left provision enables local authorities to offer support as soon as possible.
See Statutory guidance for further detail

Children Born On/After September 1st 1996

The Education and Skills Act 2008 sets out that from 2015, all young people (16 and 17 year-olds) will be required to participate in education or training. This change is happening in two phases: from summer 2013 all young people will be required to participate in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17, and from summer 2015 onwards until their 18th birthday. The Government refers to the new measures as "raising the participation age" since education will take place in a variety of settings, not just at school. If you were born on/between September 1st 1996 and August 31st 1997 you will be required to stay in learning throughout the academic year in which you turn 17. If you were born on/between September 1st 1997 and August 31st 1998 you will be required to stay in learning until your 18th birthday. For information about claiming Child Benefit and current Child Tax/Working Tax Credit for young people over the age of 16 in home education, see and For information about Universal credit click here

Useful Links

Wolf Report
Child Benefit for Home Educated 16+
Taking Exams Outside School

Link Reference

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  1. legislated formally
  3. Taking Exams Outside School