Balls in his last job
Naturally, what caught our eye was the promise of economic benefits. The release says:
"Independently verified research also published today estimates the economic benefits of raising the participation age to be around £2.4bn per year group over the course of their lifetime. This is because staying on longer improves the skills and employability of young people and raises their earning potential."
Now given everything we know about the real world- disenchanted teenagers, dysfunctional irrelevant classes, intimidated teachers, large-scale truanting, etc etc- this "independently verified research" sounds incredible. We're very keen to read it.
Unfortunately, having Googled high and low, we can't find it. There are no links from the press release, and no links from the Department for Children, Schools and Families website.
We wonder why.
For the real facts on prolonging the agony of school, see this blog. There we discovered that the Local Government Association reckons raising the leaving age to 18 will entail set-up costs of at least £200m and ongoing costs of £750m pa. The latter includes £50m pa on "tracking, attempting to engage and enforcing the duty (including bringing any prosecutions)". What a dismal prospect.
The costs are certain.
The benefits are yet another helping of pie in the sky.
PS The non appearance of the paper hasn't stopped Balls getting the headlines he wanted, although in fairness, the BBC does put it in quotes- Staying on to 18 'boosts economy'. So they clearly haven't seen the paper either.