Raising the participation age

This page explains what raising the participation age (RPA) is and why it was implemented. 

What is RPA?

RPA came in to effect in September 2013.

In England, a young person’s school leaving age depends on when it was they were born – if they are 16 by the end of that year's summer holidays then you can leave on the last Friday in June.

Under the RPA agenda, young people must now stay in some form of education or training until the academic year in which they have their 18th birthday. This applies to all young people born on or after 1st September 1997. Participation includes full time study in a, school college or training provider; full-time work or volunteering (20 hours or more) combined with part-time education or training leading to relevant regulated qualifications; or an apprenticeship, training or supported internship.

Local authorities are subject to duties to support all young people to participate. The Education and Skills Act places additional responsibilities on local authorities to promote participation of all 16 to 18 year old residents and make arrangements to identify those young people who are at risk of not participating. Those complement the existing duties to secure sufficient suitable education and training provision for all 16 to 19 year olds (and up to 25 for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and to encourage, enable and assist them to take part. They also complement to processes in place to deliver the ‘September Guarantee’ and to track young people’s predication.

Why was the RPA implemented?

It has been noticed that remaining in some form of education or training for a longer period of time helps increase the likelihood of people progressing into a stable and sustainable job role.

The following have also been noted:

  • Staying in education helps a young person to develop the necessary skills for adult life.
  • It reduces the likelihood of being unemployed, this may be because of the extended learning time or the potential qualifications that go hand in hand with this.
  • It encourages young people to go out and achieve their full potential to lead them in to the later stages of their careers.
  • It raises the ambitions and expectations of the individual to help them secure employment.
  • It also increases the potential income of the individual.

For more information, go to the www.gov.uk website

Approved education

Education must be full-time (more than an average of 12 hours a week supervised study or course-related work experience) and can include:

  • A levels or similar – e.g. Pru-U, International Baccalaureate
  • Scottish Higher
  • NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
  • Home Education – if started before your child turned 16
  • Traineeships in England

Courses are not approved if paid for by an employer or ‘advanced’ (such as a university degree or BTEC Higher National Certificate). You must inform the Child Benefit Office if your child is staying in approved education or is leaving approved education.

Get more information.



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