Keep on learning after age 16

What choices do young people have at age 16?

The Government has changed the law so that all young people are expected to stay in some form of education or training after Year 11. You might know this as the Raising of the Participation Age (RPA).

Information for young people

If you started Year 11 in September 2012, you will need to continue on in education or training until at least the end of the school year in which you turn 17. If you are in Year 10 or below, you will need to continue until at least your 18th birthday.

Staying in education doesn't have to mean staying in school, and there are a number of options you can choose:

  • Study full-time in a school, college or with a training provider.
  • Full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training.
  • An apprenticeship.
  • Traineeship. 

Your school should give you guidance and information on all of the options open to you. Talk to your teachers if you want some help to decide what's right for you.

You can contact the Sandwell Connexions Service for impartial advice at any time or by visiting:

Sandwell Connexions
One Stop Shop
Oldbury Council House
Freeth Street
Oldbury B69 3DE

Phone: 0121 569 2955 or Freephone: 0800 358 4800

Information for parents and carers

The legal requirement to participate will be on your son or daughter. This is because at 16, young people are starting to make - and take responsibility for - the decisions that affect their future. 

We know that you will be providing support and guidance to your child as they make these important decisions about their future, but there are also other sources of help.

Schools are responsible for making sure all pupils in school years 9-11 have access to independent careers guidance. This careers guidance must:

  • be presented in an impartial manner;
  • include information on the full range of post-16 education or training options, including apprenticeships; and
  • promote the best interests of the pupils to whom it is given.

The National Careers Service makes it easy for both adults and young people to access information and advice about education, training and work.

Young people and their parents can speak to an appropriately qualified adviser by contacting the helpline, which is available from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week on 0800 100 900, or for text messages on 07766 413 219.

Is financial support available for my child?

The Government has committed to fully-funding education and training places for all 16-19 year olds, and there is also financial help available for young people who are struggling with additional costs.

The 16-19 Bursary Fund can provide up to £1,200 a year to young people from poorer backgrounds. Under the scheme, schools and colleges can also offer bursaries to any young person who is finding it difficult to pay costs like transport, meals or books and equipment.

You may be able to access additional support through one of our trust funds if eligibility criteria is met.

Information for employers

The vast majority of 16 and 17 year olds already remain in some form of education or training. Many of these young people will also be working part-time - in the evenings, at weekends or in the holidays.

If you are an employer of apprentices there are no other changes to be aware of as apprenticeships count as a valid route in themselves for young people to continue their education.

If you are an employer of other 16 and 17 year olds there are no new legal duties on you, but your young employees will be required to take some part-time training alongside their work. There will be no requirement on the young person to continue their training after their 18th birthday, though we believe young people will recognise the benefits of completing their training.

You may want to consider how you can support your young employees to access the training they are required to take. This could be through considering how their working hours can allow them to attend their training or taking time to discuss how it could match your business needs.

For more information on raising the participation age, please visit the Department for Education website.

If you are an employer wishing to take on a new apprentice please call the Think Local Youth Employment Team on 0121 569 2099 or email enquiries_apprentice@sandwell.gov.uk for more details.

Sandwell learning organisations agreeing to promote the benefits of continued learning: