THE number of teenager staying in school after the age of 16 has fallen for the first time in a decade, according to Government figures.
At the same time, the numbers of 16 to 18-year-olds that are considered “NEET” - not in education, employment or training - has risen by eight per cent.
The statistics published yesterday show that 70.5 per cent of 16-year-olds were in full-time education in 2011, compared to 70.6 per cent in 2010, a fall of almost 32,000 students.
It is the first time the numbers have dropped since 2001, and comes amid a move to raise the school leaving age to 18.
From next year, pupils will leave education and training at age 17, and in 2015, this will be raised to 18.
Overall, there were fewer young people aged 16 to 18 in 2011 in education than there were in 2010, according to the Department for Education figures.
Some 8.1 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds, around 154,710 students, were considered NEET in 2011, the statistics show, against 7.5 per cent, or 146,430 youngsters, the year before - an eight per cent increase.
It means that an extra 8,280 young people were NEET in 2011 compared to 2010.
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said the figures were a “clear sign” that the education system needs to do more to give young people the skills that businesses and universities want.
He said: “The number of young people not in education, employment or training has been too high for too long - this is not a new problem. But we are determined to tackle it.”
Shadow minister for young people Karen Buck said: “This generation of young people is paying a huge price for the recession made in Downing Street - long term youth unemployment has more than doubled in the last year.”
The number of young people classed as NEET in Yorkshire between the age of 16 and 24 is now almost 20 per cent - higher than anywhere else in England.