Raising the participation age (RPA)

Published Thursday, 16 January 2014

The government has raised the participation age in England. A change in the law means that all young people are now required to continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17.

In August 2015 the participation age will rise again. From the 2015/16 academic year onwards, young people will be required to participate in education or training until their 18th birthday.

If a young person left year 11 in summer 2013 they will need to continue in education or training until at least the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 i.e. year 12. A young person who started year 11 in September 2013 will need to continue until at least their 18th birthday.

This doesn’t have to mean staying in school. Young people can opt to study or train in any of the following ways:

  • by studying full-time in a school, college or with a training provider (many young people also take a part time job alongside)
  • by working or volunteering full-time, combined with part-time education or training
  • by taking up an apprenticeship or traineeship

Why make this change?

Participating in learning for longer means young people are more likely to get the skills and qualifications that will open doors to future employment, help them make the most of their potential, and earn more over their lifetime.

Where can you get more information?

Schools are responsible for securing independent careers guidance for their pupils in years 8-13.
Young people can also contact trained advisers for impartial advice at the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900 (open from 8.00am to 10pm, seven days a week) and they can use the web-chat service by accessing the National Careers Service website.

You can find further information for young people, parents, employers and education providers on the Department for Education website.