Children starting school for the first time this week will not leave until they are 17, under phase one of a two-stage plan by the government to raise the school leaving age to 18.
When this year’s starters reach the age of 16, they will be offered a choice of staying in education in school or college, or undertaking work-based training.
“If Labour are in power in 11 years’ time – no, don’t laugh, it could happen – then this will be hailed as a visionary long-term effort to reduce the number of youngsters leaving education without any qualifications, in a future where unskilled jobs will have become a thing of the past,” explained Schools Secretary Ed Balls. “But if, as seems increasingly likely, the Conservatives are still running the country in 2019, then whatever is left of the Labour Party - or whatever it may call itself by then - will complain loudly that the whole thing is nothing more than a cynical scheme designed solely to engineer a dramatic short-term drop in the unemployment figures by keeping thick, idle wasters off the dole, regardless of the disruption they will undoubtedly cause to other students.”
Mr Balls acknowledged that, given the current rate of grade inflation, this year’s school entry will all leave with at least 27 grade-A GCSEs and a first-class honours degree. However, he felt that employers may have cottoned on by then, and the minimum qualification for a household slave in 2019 would probably be a PhD.