England

In England, your leaving age depends on when you were born. You can leave school on the last Friday in June as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that year’s summer holidays.

You must stay in some form of education or training until your 18th birthday if you were born on or after 1 September 1997.

Your options are:

  • full-time education - eg at a school or college
  • an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • part-time education or training - as well as being employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week

Scotland

In Scotland, if you turn 16 between 1 March and 30 September you can leave school after 31 May of that year.

If you turn 16 between 1 October and the end of February you can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

Wales

In Wales, you can leave school on the last Friday in June, as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, if you turn 16 during the school year (between 1 September and 1 July) you can leave school after 30 June.

If you turn 16 between 2 July and 31 August you can’t leave school until 30 June the following year.

Financial help

In England, you can apply for a 16 to 19 Bursary Fund to help with education costs.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you can apply for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to help with your studying costs.