[ ] MP
Proposal to extend compulsory education
I am writing to express my profound concern at the government’s proposals to force 16-18 year olds to attend a school or college or otherwise to receive approved training while in employment. Effectively, 17-year-olds are to be told by the government how to run their lives. I believe this represents an unacceptable infringement of civil liberties for an age group which, on many definitions, is considered adult.
It seems extraordinary that a person could be regarded as old enough to get married, have a job, rent a flat, drive a car etc., and yet (it is being assumed) cannot be trusted to make sensible decisions about their career. There may be arguments for encouraging those who drop out of education or training at 16 not to do so, but it cannot be right to resort to coercion.
The government’s Green Paper on this matter makes no reference to the civil liberties issue, contenting itself with rehearsing questionable arguments about the economy’s need for skills, and insisting it is “unacceptable” for this age group not to be in education or training.
I therefore would ask you vigorously to oppose these proposals, regardless of their supposed merits on economic grounds, on the basis that they conflict with the right of persons to freedom from state interference except on grounds of preventing harm to others, or (in limited circumstances) harm to themselves. While it might be argued that those dropping out of education and training at 16 are depriving themselves of a possible benefit, it is in no way a kind of “harm to themselves” that could legitimate coercion of the kind proposed.
I should be grateful if you could also show your support by signing the e-petition at http://www.gopetition.com/online/11776.html.