Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
In Scotland you can legally leave school at the age of sixteen but should this be the case? The two sides of this argument are extremely conflicting. One one hand you have some of the most successful people in the world including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates- who both dropped out of school and then there are the people who leave school with no significant qualifications and struggle their whole life, trying to make something happen for themselves and are unable to gain any further qualifications.
Many young people will make the decision to leave school very quickly, without much consideration for the consequences. At such a young and impressionable age it is likely that this decision will be highly influenced by their peers. Britain undoubtedly has one of the highest number of high school dropouts, in-fact it is ranked eighth in the world for the number of people leaving school at the minimum leaving age. When these students leave school they will not have a reliable source of income, one in ten of Britain’s school leavers were either unemployed or not in education in the last ten years. (1)
Leaving school at such a young age, these children will not have any valuable qualifications, often necessary for entry to university or different employment opportunities. This will likely lead them into a life of poverty, as they will not have their desired job and their options for employment will be very limited. Living in poverty is a major cause of crime. The young person may feel that they have to commit crimes in order to survive, and for some living in poverty, the rewards of crime can be greater than the consequences. They may then find themselves trapped in the cycle of poverty all down to one impulsive decision they made when they were sixteen.
(2)Raising the school leaving age has the potential to reduce a lot of crime. If young people are in school for the majority of their day, it will keep them busy and makes it less like for them to commit anti-social crimes, such as playing loud music, or vandalism, as they will have a structure and form to their life. In the past year there were over 14500 juveniles convicted of a crime thus showing that this is a major problem within Britain. (3) This would not only benefit the students in the long run but it would also help the country. If fewer young people are committing crimes, it means that less police and social work resources will be used, therefore saving the country thousands of pounds each year. Also, if a young person were to commit a crime they would have a permanent criminal record. This again would affect their future employment opportunities and they would find it very difficult to find a job, especially during times of recession, where jobs are in high demand.
However, many would argue that not all skills are best learnt in a classroom environment. Many young people may struggle academically but, find that they are particularly advanced in practical subjects. For example, cooking and carpentry, which are often learned through different types of courses such as apprenticeships. For many young people who would like to work in these fields, they may feel that school is merely a waste of time for them and they would be much better off doing something productive and practical with their time. Both routes will set the young person up for their career ; no matter what path they take they will be trained by professionals and ready to achieve their goals, whatever they may be.
Young people who come from a poor background may be relied on by their families to bring in money to the household. They may feel that because school has no economic gain, there is no point. Whereas if they start to work immediately after school they will gain useful working experience and earn money they need in order to support their families. They will also gain an advantage over their qualified peers, when they apply for a job they will have many years work experience more than their peers. This may lead to them being chosen for the job over anyone else. If they stay in school the extra two years they will lose this advantage and may struggle to find a job as they are not as strong as their competition.
There is also an economic disadvantage to raising the school leaving age. The cost of extending the school years would be extremely high. Firstly, many more teachers would be required if it was compulsory for all students to stay on at school. More books and supplies would also have to be bought which could cost up to thousands of pounds a year. The school may also become overcrowded which would lead to new buildings being built which would again cost the government thousands of pounds. The government would also lose out on a lot of tax being paid. They would lose the tax of the young workers who would be forced to stay in school, therefore the budget for education would have to be lowered and the educations system may suffer as a result of this. (3)
Many students may feel that being in school restricts the amount of input that they have in their own lives. When they leave school they will be more free to make their own decisions which will result in them feeling more confident and happier with themselves. It will also give them independence and allow them to be able to do things on their own without help from teachers or parents. This independence will set them up for the rest of their lives and will limit some of the struggles when entering adulthood. They will also get the opportunity to make crucial decisions for themselves which gives them room for some mistakes as they will have some time to learn from these mistakes before settling down into a new career and family. The fact that they are allowed to leave school may even encourage them to stay as they may not feel as trapped because they were given the choice.
In conclusion, I think the school leaving age should not be raised. The people who believe that their passion is something that cannot be learned and mastered from a textbook or a classroom have the choice of what career path they want to take and what they want to do with their lives. It also doesn’t take away the choice to stay in school. Those who wish to continue their education are free to do so. Therefore I think not raising the school leaving age would give young people a voice and make them feel that they have the right to control their own lives.