The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to back down on its proposal to raise the school-leaving age to 18.
The Education and Skills Bill, which received its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday, will increase the minimum age for leaving school to 18 in 2015. Those who want to leave education will be required to undertake skills-based training.
Children’s spokesman for the Lib Dems, David Laws, said: “While we support the government’s aspiration that more young people should be in education or training until 18, we cannot support the powers to compel and criminalise which are contained in this Bill.
“This Bill contains one of the biggest increases in state powers over the individual in many years.
“Some young people will not want, or even be able, to stay in education or training after 16, but they may want to take up these opportunities at age 18 or 20 – this should be their choice.
“We will seek to amend this Bill to give people the entitlement to take these extra two years of education and training when they wish to, not when Gordon Brown tells them to. And we will seek to remove powers to criminalise those who do not conform.”
If passed, the Bill will raise the legal limit to 17 from 2013 and 18 from 2015.