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What does Compulsory school age mean?

The term "Compulsory School Age" is confusing.  It does not actually mean that school is compulsory during the qualifying period.  It does, however, mean that the parent or guardian of a child of "compulsory school age" has a duty to provide an education (subject to section 7 of the 1996 Education Act) during that period.

When does it start?

Your child is of "compulsory school age" on the 1st January, 1st April or 1st September following their 5th birthday.

Children becoming 5 years old between 1st January and 31st March are of compulsory school age at the beginning of the term after 1st April.

Children becoming 5 years old between 1st April and 31st August are of compulsory school age from the beginning of the term after 1st September.

Children becoming 5 years old between 1st September and 31st December are of compulsory school age from the beginning of the term after 1st January.

When does it end?

In practice a person ceases to be of "compulsory school age" on the last Friday of June during the year that s/he becomes 16 provided that the child's birthday is before the beginning of the next school year.

If his/her 16th birthday is after the start of the new school year, s/he is still of "compulsory school age" until the end of the last Friday in June of the following year.  Exceptions cannot be made for any reasons.

 

Raising the Participation Age (RPA)

Legislation requires all young people to stay in a designated learning environment until the age of 17 from 2013 and the age of 18 from 2015 onwards.

Young people can choose to participate through full-time education, a job or volunteering combined with part-time study, or by undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship.   RPA does not necessarily mean staying in school; young people have a choice about how they continue in education or training post-16. This could be through: • full-time study in a school, college or with a training provider; • full-time work or volunteering (20 hours or more) combined with part-time education or training; or • an apprenticeship or traineeship.

 

 

 

RPA will not affect the compulsory school age.  However, its effect is that a person who ceased to be of compulsory school age but has not yet reached the age of 18 (or attained a level 3 qualification), is under a duty to participate in education or training. 

Source: DfE lawyers 2011-10-17

 

 

 

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