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Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will pay an official visit to Canada to study educational developments there.

Will the right hon. Gentleman at least study the Canadian experience in allowing pupils to leave school early? Does he recall the sad case of two young constituents of mine who were forced back to school after an administrative mistake over the precise time of their birth, and after one of them had almost entered employment? Is he aware that that mistake could not be remedied, because of the inflexible law of the school leaving age? Will the right hon. Gentleman's Department think again about this matter?

:Whatever age is laid down by law for school leaving purposes, there is always the possibility of an administrative mistake. I do not think that such a mistake arises from a particular age being fixed by law. As for the Canadian experience, only in the Province of Ontario have they gone in for the new option of leaving at 14. Other provinces have rejected that policy. This House has also rejected it. Both sides of the House are committed to a school leaving age of 16 years. I believe that we were right to come to that conclusion. Since the school leaving age was raised, experience has shown that the raising has been to the benefit of the majority of children concerned.