Posted by: Ms Morris | October 16, 2009

School Leaving Age

A question for feedback: Do you think the school leaving age should be raised to 18?

I’m just thinking, wouldn’t it make sense? Under the old system you graduated at the age of 16-17 and so of course the minimum age a person could leave would be 16. But we’ve adopted a new system and I just think it would make sense and possibly curb some of our social ills (if only by a fraction). I just don’t think it’s wise to give student the option to opt out of education once they hit 16. Students who stay in school have a larger support system through teachers and programs and a better chance of obtaining a high school certificate than if they attended a G.E.D. program that generally has less support and takes less time out of their day. If a person takes their G.E.D. exam and for whatever reason does not pass what is their motivation to try again? I hypothesize that many do not and opt to work instead.

Some may see this as the government taking a firm hand with our young people but shouldn’t we? While teens may think they know everything and what is best for them (Lord knows I did) the truth is they don’t know everything some decisions they make are not in their best interest. We as the knowledgeable responsible adults that we claim to be should do what’s in their best interest or at least what makes logical sense.


  1. I wonder how hard schools are trying to keep kids in? I know a young man who has been sent home from Berkeley several times since the beginning of the school year because his pants weren’t hemmed to the proper length. This young man could leave school if he was Bermudian (he’s portuguese but been here his whole life – born and bred but this is another issue), but as he’s not old enough to get long term residency he can’t work.

    I’m sorry, but if a teen is being turned away because of his pants are the incorrect length, then we have a MUCH larger problem in our society.

  2. Why can’t that young man just adhere to the dress code? Why should the school relax its policy on dress code (actually I’m sure they relaxed it a lonnnng time ago the way I see some students attired). Blame the kid and his parents, not the school (not saying that you have, mind you).

    Because we should be in the business of trying to get everyone a high school diploma or equivalent and the school system has been tinkered with to enable ‘graduation’ at the age of 17/18, I think I’d have to agree with the original proposal of raising the school leaving age.

  3. Wow… Tryangle… I expected some sympathy from you. If schools worried less about a hem-line and more about education standards we wouldn’t have to worry about raising the school leaving age. This kid is being told that everything else in his uniform is ok, but because the hem in his pants is incorrect he does not deserve an education.

    The priorities are screwed up. Develop the system and not the rules and you’ll have a higher quality kid. Sure a lot of it has to do with home life, but if we promote the proper values and ideas in ALL walks of life our society becomes that much better.

  4. Public education is a waste of money $300 million a year to produce less than a 100 bachelors degree. Privatize education use that money to build casinoes, hotels and housing. If people want education they should pay for it and it should be voluntary.

  5. I doubt that raising the school leaving age to 18 would make any noticeable difference at all on any of Bermuda’s problems.

    A gangbanger is still a gangbanger whether their 16 or 18.

    The Public school system is a complete joke and it’s not because students can leave at the age of 16. Lets be realistic here.

    Start with the improving the standard of teachers, then maybe we can consider relatively small problems like the minimum drop out age.

  6. What would we teach the 16-18 year olds?

    In my day (thousands of years ago) that 2 year period was all about ‘A’ levels, a pre-requisite for Uni or College.

    I am confused as to how we would use that 2 year period.

  7. I’m not suggesting this as a fix. It would be more of a stop gap measure if taking in that sense. I’m looking at it from a policy supporting the system type perspective. It seems like the law undermines the system the way it presently stands.

    Martin, I shall not hazard a guess at your age if its in the thousands, I was taught never to ask anyway :). Its not that we would be changing the system or adding any extra courses. When they changed the system around it came with an extra year. Then they took it away, then they brought it back.

    Interesting contrast your comments just brought up. When you were in school you did A levels, when I was in school I did O levels. Now students are doing GCSE’s. Are we, to borrow an American term dumbing down? This of course is a question in a larger debate on whether the its the student, teachers or the curriculum that decide the education level of the student. Thoughts?

  8. Ms. Morris

    Students do A levels in the 10th and 11th years of school in the private school and A levels/AP’s/IB in years 12 and 13.

    Unless you are saying that students did A Levels two years earlier during your school days then I don’t really understand how you can say anything is being “dumbed down”.

  9. I actually wasn’t aware that students still did A levels. I was educated in the public system and while I was aware of the IB I hadn’t heard anything of A levels except from more mature persons.

  10. spaarx, what you mean “expected sympathy”?… sounds a bit patronising but anyway.

    Adhering to a proper dress code is part of respecting authority and taking pride in appearance. We expect people coming to work to dress appropriately, those values need to be highlighted in school. Instead, we’re letting standards plummet.

    Hi Nioe – which private schools do A Levels at this time? I’m aware of APs done by Saltus in the 90s, but that was a one-year programme (equivalent of grade 12).

  11. John Swan is reponsible for the failure in Education when he said “go get your education to come work in International business.”
    These fields are highly technical and too much volume information comprehension more importantly the trust and secretcy of competition put it out of the reach of the majority.
    A socialists education is more sustainable and achievable schoolteachers, customs officers, police, soldiers, fire department, government admistrators, blue collar workers, nurses.
    The man lacked vision. Only a puppet reading a script.

  12. @
    Tryangle Saltus does both A levels and AP’s. It is a mixture.

    Most of both are now two year courses although some of the AP’s are still done in one year.

    Either way it’s irrelevant IB, APs, A levels are generally accepted as equivalent.

  13. Ms Morris,

    Personally I do support the idea of raising the leaving age to 18… Martin, that does not add any years per se, it simply removes the present option that kids have of dropping out at 16. Many are actually 17 or 18 when they graduate anyways, this just more or less forces students to finish school.

  14. Thanks CO….that answers my question.

  15. @ sparxx – I agree fully with tryangle. School rules are the rules and I don’t think that we should bend them to accommodate students who are non-compliant. You argue that the school shouldn’t allow a hemline to interfere with the boy’s education… but why is the boy willing to allow the hemline to interfere with his education.

    I think we need to stop babying our children and lowering the standards to suit them. Hemlines, hairstyles, makeup… where does it end? The best way to prepare them for the real world is to keep it real.

  16. I think it’s more than babying…

    We seem to have created a situation whereby we try and mask failure for school children. We don’t have children who come ‘second or third’ anymore…they now come ‘almost first’.

    If one of the objectives of education is to prepare children for life in the ‘real’ world as we tend to call it, then they will have a shock when they realise there is limited room (if at all) for those who come second or third.

  17. Yeah! And if we could only stop enforcing laws and just make a better system, things’d be a lot better, too!

  18. “Yeah! And if we could only stop enforcing laws and just make a better system, things’d be a lot better, too!”

    Very well said!

  19. I don’t see creating a better system and enforcing laws as mutually exclusive. I think they should complement each other.

    We need an improved education system. For arguments sake let’s say the Cambridge Curriculum is the answer to our collective educational prayers. Aren’t we underminig the system if we give students the opportunity to opt out before completion of the system?

    In one of the artcles I was reading for a class the authors touched on an ongoing debate. That is: Should policy inform our behaviors or should our behaviors inform policy? In the particular instance of the school leaving age I think that policy would do better to inform and effect behavior.

  20. @ Casual Observer and Tryangle:

    We’re talking about a pair of pants that were hemmed. We’re talking about sending a kid who, if he was Bermudian could rightfully snub the system as we know it and add to the statistics.

    A hem-line on a pair of pants. Who really would notice, and how does that challenge the dress code? This isn’t a hem on a dress where legs can be seen, or a pair of pants with NO hem, these are a store bought pair of pants with a hem already in them!!!

    This isn’t a challenge to the dress code, as I said, he was ok in every other way. If it was an issue, why not give him a warning first, let him go home and get them fixed and then come back.

    The other issue here is that the security wasn’t consistent. Some days he was fine, others he wasn’t.

    To the main point. It doesn’t even matter talking about raising the school leaving age if kids are being deterred from going to school in the first place. Why do you think the fastest growing form of education in Bermuda is home schooling?

  21. @ sparxx – I cannot speak to your specific example. I find it hard to believe that the security would go through that much trouble to make life difficult for a student, particularly given the state in which I see some of the students walking around these days. That said, if he’s been sent home several times then it would seem that he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to get them fixed and come back, as you suggest should have been the option given by security.

    I would be very surprised if educators went around actually looking for reasons to send students home but that said, the rules are the rules and should be adhered to. When I was in school skirts could be no more than 2 inches above the knee. And you could bet your bottom dollar that on the first day the principal, tape measure in hand checked for compliance. The purpose of a uniform is simply that. Uniformity.

    If you make exceptions for hemlines, then do you make exception for the student with two lines in his hair – because everything else is fine? Or the bright nail polish, because everything else is fine?

    By your description yes, it seems to be a minor infraction. I can only hope that the school is that anal about everything.

  22. If you make exceptions, then you might as well throw away the rule book totally. Absolutely no point in having rules if you don’t abide by them.

    It seems to me that a school is perhaps one of the last opportunities for kids to grasp and understand what discipline is all about and why there is a need for it – even though there are times when interpretation of rules may seem strange and petty to some.

    School uniform is part of the discipline.

  23. @ Casual and Martin

    I’m not arguing the point. Uniform brings together a sense of unity and also discipline. I agree wholeheartedly and in an age where kids are encouraged to celebrate their unique selves, it is a perfect solution to the “us and them” world we live in.

    This case seems to be more than just about a uniform, and why they allow other “infractions” such as jewelry and hair styles is concerning.

    Rules are rules, they are the fabric of our society, so I guess we should all turn ourselves in when we exceed the speed limit, or eat a grape in the grocers (not that I do either ;0) )

    My point here is that at some time we have to decide whether or not that extra half inch on a hemmed pair of pants really matters. If a kid doesn’t want to be in school and is old enough to avoid going, then why are we fighting with them over a silly thing like this?

    We need to be careful. The rules are important, but not at the sake of losing a kid to the streets. You choose your battles. Kids should understand the importance of the rules, but not to the point where they choose to not go to school because of something like this.

  24. @ Casual – to answer your point, yes, Security at Berkeley continued to harass this boy to the point where he stopped going to school. The hard point is that he doesn’t even get credit for showing up, he’s marked as absent and then after a few weeks the school notifies the parents. They didn’t understand (Portuguese – both LTR’s) and think that the world has come to an end.

    Luckily I have taken this kid under my wing and I won’t let him fail.

  25. Sparxx

    I understand ‘choosing your battles’, but in a large grouping like a school, then if the extra half inch doesn’t matter – then you don’t need the rule.

    When you sign up to go to the school, you sign up to the rules, and that includes the parents too.

    No rules = mayhem at best. Anarchy at worst.

  26. Incidentally, the bit about the rules and signing up to them….

    That’s the bit the Premier didn’t want to recognise when he brought the Uighurs in. He knows what the rules are – he just doesn’t want to play by them.

    He, and those in the PLP who support his actions, are wonderful role models for the kids. I just see a kid rationalising it….”well the Premier can get away with it – so can I”.


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