School leaver exemptions to be axed

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.

8 Responses to School leaver exemptions to be axed

  1. Ed Snack says:

    This is rank stupidity, any teacher in secondary can tell of numerous pupils who should not stay at school. A classic case of a theoretical approach that will fail spectacularly in the real world.


  2. Colin Lucas says:

    These policies are rank stupidity. The kids who want to attend school will. Those who don’t won’t.


  3. Mr Dennis says:

    Completely stupid. School leaver exemptions aren’t just for misbehaving kids, they are great for any teen who is better out of school, for all sorts of reasons. Teens may get a good job, aren’t interested in school and would be better off starting their career early. Some teens are being abused or bullied at school, and would much prefer to leave school and go into other training or work. There is no point keeping someone in school at that age if they are not happy there.

    Forcing teens to stay at school will only exacerbate crime rates, as they will go truant and some may choose to fill their boring days with vandalism and petty crime, which can be the start of a long career.


  4. […] Tip: Homepaddock Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: crime, education, jobs, Labour, school, teenagers, […]


  5. Johnmacc says:

    I gotta disagree with you there. Early leaving exemptions are used by schools to wash their hands of kids they’d much rather not bother with. For many years this mechanism sat there in the Education Act and was hardly ever used. then a whole bunch of principals found out about this great way of dumping your problems, and ELX applications skyrocketed. The Ministry of Ed, which was supposed to ensure that applicants met each of three specific tests instead got out its rubber stamps whenever a principal asserted that a kid met any one of them. They were supposed to track ELX’d students to ensure they went on to employment and training, but many just fell off the radar entirely. My wife gets to arrest these kids on her night shifts to stop them burgling people like you and killing people like themselves.
    Early Leaving Exemptions are unnecessary. Many schools never sought to use them. Schools can arrange a million alternatives that enable the student to work/study away from school – correspondence, tertiary institutions, work-based training, community work, whatever. Principals can approve this under s71 of the Ed Act as long as they can be sure the kids still learning. But this way, the school remains responsible. What schools need is the flexibility and accountability to look after all their students – not the option of washing their hands of the difficult cases.


  6. Mr Dennis says:

    Johnmacc, certainly some teens go off the rails after leaving school. But had they been kept in school they would probably have fared no better, by this stage if they are playing truant the whole time because they are sick of school they are probably going to get up to that sort of mischief anyway. Maybe they should have left school even earlier if it isn’t right for them, and started working before they got bored enough to get into crime? It is an unusual Western phenomenon to have students still in school at the age of 15 anyway.

    I can think of two people off the top of my head who left school at 15, went to work, and had their own house by the age of 20. It is great for some students. Just because some others may abuse it doesn’t mean it should be dropped for all. I have more on this on my own blog.


  7. UK Voter says:

    Once again this government demonstrates that they are so far removed from the real world, that they stagger into another potential crisis. They should try listening to the people that understand the issues, rather than policy advisors who have no experience of anything other than PR coups.


  8. Mr Dennis says:

    Yes, it’s really crazy that Labour, the supposed “working mans” party, would come out with something as elitist as this.


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