He was bright but hated school. He just didn’t fit in.
He was given an exemeption to leave at the age of 14, immediately found himself a job and is now a happy and well adjusted adult.
Under a law changed proposed by Labour he would no longer be granted an exemption to leave school early.
The Education Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament yesterday would remove all exceptions to children leaving school before the official leaving age of 16.
There were nearly 2000 exceptions last year, down from 4000 in 2006 after an Education Ministry crackdown.
Parents of students aged 15 may apply to the Education Ministry for their children to leave early on the basis of educational problems, conduct, or the unlikelihood of the student gaining benefit from attending school.
Secondary Principals Association president Peter Gall said though he believed in keeping teens in school, the early exemptions were often a relief to parents and pupils.
Some pupils exempted from school had mental health problems but most were “chronic truants whose fit with school just wasn’t right” and were directed into alternative education or unpaid work experience.
If they were to be kept in school for another year there would need to be more government support for schools to cope, he said.
“Where it will impact is to what extent we have to use the law with some students who just don’t want to be there. Do we have to go through and prosecute the parents?”
This is yet another one-size fits all approach. It doesn’t recognise that keeping some teenagers at school won’t do anything for them and will cause problems for other pupils and teachers.
Exemptions shouldn’t be used in isolation, they need to be part of a package which ensures those leaving school early go in to other training or work.
And when they are used it should be in exceptional circumstances, but they ought to be there for the small minority of pupils who will be better off out of school.
Oswald Bastable has another perspective on this issue here.