Leaving and learning: should we raise the school leaving age?

Sarah Womack 150Sarah Womack is a former political and social affairs correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. Here she asks – should pupils stay in school until the age of 19?

This month (April 2017) marks the 70th anniversary of one of the UK’s most significant social reforms, but you probably couldn’t guess what it is. In 1947, when the school leaving age was raised from 14 to 15 – and, for the first time, there was secondary education for all – critics claimed there were not enough buildings or teachers to cope, and pupils would truant, leading to a crime wave. But serious revolt didn’t happen, and, 25 years later, the leaving age rose again to 16 – and, in 2013-15, participation in education or training was raised to 17, then 18. Continue reading

Social science helping to close the gender gap

Sarah Womack 150.jpgSarah Womack is former political correspondent and social affairs correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, with a particular interest in women’s issues and social science.

Here she writes about International Women’s Day, and how ESRC research contributes to its 2017 campaign theme #BeBoldForChange

There’s a fascinating piece of social history that goes like this; in the beautiful coastal outpost that is Aldeburgh, Suffolk, three young women gather in 1860 to plot their careers. One said she would become Britain’s first female doctor. One would pursue the right of women to go to university.

The third, only 13 at the time, would press for women to have the vote. Continue reading