Of course we would like more young people to stay in education. Further education was particularly valuable in my experience because by then all the troublecausers and time-wasters had left. Those of us who remained actually wanted to learn something. It was a revelation.
It was so great, perhaps everybody should have to do it. Groan.
It is a serious problem that many school leavers lack basic qualifications and skills, but lets not pretend that they were all making fantastic progress in years 9 to 11. They don't have these qualifications because they weren't making good progress. We are failing to engage them, and more of the same will not help.
What alternative do we have? How about less compulsion in education? Why not make half the school day (a longer day) optional in years 9-11? Those who want to learn can stick around and learn, unmolested. Those who don't - well we'd actually have to find a way to entice them back. Something that might benefit them? It is inevitable that 25% of the population will end up in the bottom 25% in educational qualifications. The rewards for people who aren't academically oriented working hard for positional advantage over their peers are pretty slim. The rewards for learning something useful and employability skills are immense.
Now I suppose, with this suggestion, I am failing to address the problem of a lack of ambition. True. Maybe we aren't ready for treating 13 year olds like adults and expecting them to take this much responsibility. But we have to let go at some point. Learning that learning is something to do even if you don't have to, has to be learned before it is too late. And 18 is much too late.
These guys said it.