In response to the NSW Government’s proposal to increase the compulsory school leaving age in NSW, the Catholic Education Commission, NSW, on behalf of the State’s 600 Catholic schools, their staff, parents and students, has concluded that:
1. Systematic research into the reasons for early leaving is required to underpin the development of a wider strategic policy.
2. The NSW Government should reconsider its decision to raise the statutory minimum age a child may leave school in NSW beyond 15 years.
3. The focus of NSW Government policy should be on development of a comprehensive strategy for increasing the participation in education or training of all students to age 17.
4. The notion of a mandatory school leaving age should be complemented by a mandatory education or training participation age.
5. The school leaving age should remain at 15 but the mandatory participation age should be 17.
6. The School Certificate needs to be reviewed to make it more effective as a school leaving credential.
The CEC’s extensive consultations and research have highlighted the key issues to be addressed as student participation and engagement in schooling and training, not the compulsory age of school attendance.