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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Glad to quit school
john laker
John Laker: Had enough of school
The announcement of the GCSE results brings a crucial test of the government's plea to school leavers not to leave the education system.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, is spending 3m on an advertising campaign with the message: "Don't quit now".

don't quit now campaign
Government message misses target
Slick TV adverts show young people in exciting jobs, then flash back in time through the route they took to get there - ending with them in the classroom.

Whether the message can get through to those it is most aimed at is doubtful, however, in a buoyant labour market.

Latest figures show the unemployment rate was 5.5%, down from 6.0% a year earlier.

For the top GCSE students the choice is usually going on to do A-levels then probably a university degree.

Job with prospects

But there are many who cannot wait to turn their backs on blackboards and would not want to go on learning even if you paid them - which in some cases the government will, under the education maintenance allowance scheme.

Among those who picked up their GCSE results on Thursday was 16-year-old John Laker from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

He got three grade Cs, three Ds and four Es - but at this stage all that matters to him is that he has already found a temporary job with a major printer manufacturer.

It is about to be made into a permanent position on 8,500 a year.

"I went for an interview and gave them my predicted grades and they took me on without any trouble," he said.

He works in the administrative department, dealing with warranty agreements.

'I was bored'

"It is quite interesting, learning new things, but I wouldn't want to stay there for ever," he said.

"I'd want to try something else in the company, maybe, work my way up."

But he could not wait to leave school.

"I was bored, didn't want to go back. They go over the same kind of thing all the time from year to year, you don't really get anywhere."

And his response to a government minister urging him to keep studying?

"No thanks. I wouldn't want to go back into education. I'm fine as I am.

"It probably would give me more qualifications but if you work your way up in a company you're going to do that anyway, aren't you? That's what I'm hoping for anyway."

  • School leavers with at least two A-levels or three Highers will be able to train as RAF pilots and get a degree at the same time under a scheme launched by the Open University and the Ministry of Defence.

    Flying training will earn them enough points to exempt many recruits from Level One of an OU degree, while grants of 2,075 will be available to those who continue their studies when convenient for the RAF.

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    27 Jun 00 | Education
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