Brown to raise age limit on schooling

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown has paved the way for all youngsters to remain in full-time education until 18.

The Chancellor confirmed that one of the priorities of a Brown premiership would be legislation to compel all youngsters to remain in full-time education.

Speaking at the Government Leaders' Forum, organised by Microsoft, at the Scottish Parliament yesterday, he also said that all children should have the opportunity to start their education at the age of three.

He announced he was planning new financial incentives to help young people stay in education. At present, youngsters can earn up to £30 a week in education maintenance allowances if they stay on after the age of 16.

He said he planned to double apprenticeships for young people in the UK to 500,000 by the end of the decade. His top priority, he said, was to ensure every youngster had access to "world class" education.

"There are 3.4 million unskilled jobs in Britain," he said. "By 2020 we will have only 600,000. Unless you have skills in any particular area of the country, you risk being unemployed by the end of the next decade."

He pledged to ensure that all children left primary school with basic literacy and numeracy skills. "We can't tolerate a culture of low aspirations and dead-end qualifications," he said.

At present, more than one in five 11-year-olds leave primary schools unable to reach the required standard in maths and English to enable them to keep up in class at secondary school.

"We must give people a second or, if necessary, third chance in education to train for the skills necessary to survive in a globalised economy," Mr Brown added.