NSW school leaving age now 17
CHANGING the school leaving age by two years is one of the biggest overhauls in the NSW education system in 60 years.
The legislation comes into effect in January, and requires Year 10 students to stay at school until they are 17, unless they enrol in a full-time apprenticeship or have a full-time job lined up.
Alstonville High School principal David Silcock is in favour of increasing the school leaving age.
“It is preparing Australia for the future, when the baby boomers finish work,” he said.
Western Australia and Queensland increased the school leaving age a year ago.
“The indicators are better health, better opportunities and better salaries for students staying on in education. There are better outcomes too in terms of relationships outside school,” Mr Silcock said.
Deputy president of NSW Secondary Principals’ Council Andrew Newman said the legislation was bringing NSW in line with the rest of the world and he was “100 per cent in support of the changes.”
“It will mean far less unemployment as those that complete HSC are more likely to be employed and that will benefit Australia in competing on the world stage,” he said.
It will force schools to look at ways to support students in Year 11 and 12, he said.
Schools were already considering increasing the scope of the vocational courses they offer and were busy designing different curriculum to engage students in studies for the extra two years.
“We are looking at an alternative English curriculum that doesn’t require examination,” Mr Newman said.
Alstonville High has about 180 Year 10 students, Mr Silcock said.
If students wanted to leave at the end of Year 10 they must provide evidence in writing of a full-time apprenticeship or they must be going to employment of at least 25 hours per week.
“Most students choose to stay on,” Mr Silcock said.