Education secretary Estelle Morris has been given new figures showing that the country is losing an estimated£97,000 for every child who drops out of school at 16 in a lifetime of higher unemployment, low wages, lower productivity, higher crime, ill health, unwanted pregnancies and drug misuse.
These figures will be used to try to make British teenagers feel the same sense of shame about dropping out of full-time education at 16 as their American counterparts.
A white paper on keeping children in education from 14 to 19 will not attempt to raise the school-leaving age, but pupils will be paid to stay on at school with education maintenance allowances of up to£40 a week across the country. The allowances will be extended from pilot schemes by chancellor Gordon Brown in the comprehensive spending review at a cost of£600m. Students over 16 in full-time education and whose parents' gross income is below£30,000 will benefit.
PUPILS QUIT BECAUSE OF EXAM STRESS
Exam pressure on children has increased to such an extent that some are leaving school early to escape it, reported The Observer (p4).
The stress on 16-year-olds studying for AS levels are also leading to depression and panic attacks.
According to research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the pressure of studying more subjects than their predecessors has meant that children no longer have time for 'enrichment' activities such as sports, music and reading for pleasure. Children's development was suffering as a result of the 'shambles' of the AS exams.