Ever since I started teaching I’ve been frustrated with the idea of “Christmas Leavers”.
The school leaving age regulations read as follows:
Children may leave school once they reach their statutory school leaving date, this is dependent on date of birth. For children born between 1 March and 30 September it is 31 May of their 4th year of secondary school. For children born between 1 October and 28 February it is the last day of the December term of the school session in which they are 16.
It’s this latter group which cause such concern. It never ceases to amaze me how many of the most challenging children are in this group. I can’t track down the link but I know there is a correlation between low attainment for boys and the age they started primary school education, i.e. the younger they were the lower their attainment in S4 (there is no such correlation for girls). Rather than trying to tackle this by ensuring that boys don’t start school too early we exacerbate the situation by demanding that these (often) disenchanted young people have to stay on at school for another four months. Ridiculous!