How long do you have to stay at school and when can you get a job?

August 24, 2016

What age can I leave School?

The government has changed the Law so that all young people in England will have to continue in education or training until:

  • The end of the academic year in which they turn 17; and
  • This rises to their 18th birthday from summer 2015.

This means that from summer 2013, if you started Year 11 in September 2012, you will need to continue 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.

This does not necessarily mean that you have to stay in school. There are a number of options that you can choose from:

  • 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.

I know I have to stay in education or training – if I want to leave my school at 16, what else can I do?

The new rules do not mean that you have to stay in school. There are some great options to consider. You could:

  • Go to college to do a course.
  • Do an Apprenticeship.

You could choose to start work. If you’re working or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week, you can also do a part-time course or training. This means you could work and learn at college at the same time.



Can I go to college before I turn 16?

Yes. From September 2013, some colleges can take on 14-16 year olds. This will be done in ’14 to 16 Centres’.

You’ll be able to study work-related qualifications. This means you’ll have the chance to do a   hands-on course. You should be able to study your core subjects. This should give you useful skills for the future. Your parents or carers will have to agree that you can do this.

I have a learning disability – is there any extra support that I can get at school?

Yes. Your school should help you with your learning. If your teacher knows, they may be able to help by explaining things in a way that’s easier for you to understand.

There may be other help available for you. If so, it would depend on what your needs are, as everybody is different. Help that you may be able to get could be:

  • An assistance to help you in class.
  • Extra time in exams.

I have a physical disability – is there any extra support that I can get to help me at school?

Yes. Your school should be willing to help and support you. Your disability shouldn’t affect your ability to learn and do well. Things the school may need to do are:

  • Make changes – an example is putting in a ramp for wheelchair users.
  • Offer extra support – this could be more teachers, assistants or equipment.

It’s important that you talk to your teacher so that they can help and support you.


Why are GCSEs important?

GCSEs can help you to learn skills. These skills can help you to move on in work and life. GCSEs also help you to decide which subjects you find interesting. This may help if you decide to continue your education after school.

Employers look at GCSEs to see if you match what they are looking for. Universities and colleges look at them to see if you have the ability to do well on their courses.

What GCSE options should I have taken in year 9?

There are core subjects that you have to take (maths, English and science). These should keep most careers open to you. Choosing subjects for a certain career can be more important if you go to college or sixth form.

If you’re not sure, it is often best to take subjects you enjoy are good at. This way you’re most likely to do well in them. You could also speak to a teacher for advice.

Can I get a part-time job when I’m still at school?

Yes. You can work part-time from the age of 13 onwards. At 13, you are only allowed to do certain jobs, such as:

  • Work in a shop.
  • Delivering newspapers.
  • Sweeping up in a hairdressing salon.
  • Domestic work in hotels.

The hours you can work are also limited if you’re still in school.  On a school day, anyone aged 13-16 can work up to two hours a day. This must be between 7:00am and the start of school, or between finishing school and before 7:00pm. You are not allowed to work for more than one hour before school.

At the weekend 13-14 year olds can work:

  • Up to five hours on a Saturday – this must be between 7:00am and 7:00pm.
  • Up to two hours on a Sunday – this must be between 7:00am and 7:00pm.

At the weekend 15-16 year olds can work:

  • Up to eight hours on a Saturday – this must be between 7:00am and 7:00pm.
  • Up to two hours on a Sunday – this must be between 7:00am and 7:00pm.

Over School holidays 15-16 year olds can work:

  • 35 hours a week maximum.
  • Up to eight hours on Saturdays and weekdays.
  • Up to two hours on Sunday.

The minimum wage for workers under 18 is £4.20.

Finding work – What can I do?

Many part-time jobs are not advertised.  So you can look for part-time jobs by contacting employers directly.  You could call in and have a chat with them, or write to them.  You can find their contact details in your local telephone directory or an online business directory like

If you’re going to speak to employers, you need to stay safe. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and what time you’ll be back. If you have a mobile phone, make sure that you have enough credit and battery to call someone if you need to. You could always take a friend with you if they’re looking for work too. Or, if the places you want to go to aren’t near to each other, you could ask a parent or carer to drive you. This way they can wait outside for you.


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