Staying in learning

If you are in Year 11, you must stay in some kind of education or training until at least your 18th birthday. This means if you leave full-time learning, you must take a job with training or an apprenticeship. You can read more about staying in learning and Raising the Participation Age (RPA) in the section below.

Six great reasons for staying in learning and getting qualified

1. If you want a good choice of jobs you need good qualifications.
2. More and more jobs will require high level qualifications and skills - low
skilled jobs are disappearing.
3. To increase your self-confidence and reach your full potential.
4. To show employers, teachers and tutors you can work hard, have the skills
they need and that you are prepared to learn.
5. To improve your life chances. Missing out on learning 16+ could affect your
whole future well-being, things such as your health, your life style, your
6. The more you learn the more you earn!

Qualifications have a big effect on pay

Usually the higher your qualifications, the more you're paid.

Research on pay and qualifications carried out every year by the Office for National Statistics, has shown the same pattern - those with higher level qualifications earn more money.

The graph below shows the average gross weekly pay of full-time employees aged between 16 and 64 by highest qualification held as researched in Quarter 1, January to March 2023 in England.*

Pay and qualifications graph 2023

Pay and qualifications graph

  • Level 4 and above = higher national certicate or diploma, foundation degree, degree apprenticeship or degree
  • Level 3 = A level, T level or BTEC National Diploma
  • Level 2 = 5 GCSEs at grade 9-4 or BTEC First

Please note: RQF in the above graph stands for Regulated Qualifications Framework.

Source: *Labour Force Survey 2023; Office for National Statistics

Note: the graph above does not include earnings from any additional part-time jobs/work employees may have.

What is Raising the Participation Age (RPA)?

RPA (Raising the Participation Age) increases the minimum age you can leave learning.

After Year 11 you will have to stay in some form of education or training until at least your 18th birthday.

In fact, most young people already choose to stay in learning between 16 and 18, gaining the skills and knowledge employers ask for and that will be needed by jobs in the future.

RPA doesn’t mean you must stay in school. You can choose an option to suit you from the following choices:

  • work-based learning such as an apprenticeship or job with training. (Training has to be for at least 280 teaching hours a year and lead to an Ofqual accredited qualification)
  • part-time education or training if you are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week
  • a full-time course in school or college.

RPA begins from the last day of the summer term. However, if you have an offer of a place on a course with a September start date, you will not be expected to do any other learning before you start the course.

There is more information on RPA on the government website.

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