A record number of school children stayed in full-time education in England after their GCSEs last year.
Learning until the age of 18 is to be made compulsory
Some 78.1% of 16-year-olds remained in education beyond the compulsory age - up 2.2 percentage points on 2005.
Some 65% of 17-year-olds were in full time education in 2006 - also a rise of 2.2 percentage points on 2005.
The share of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (Neets) fell from 10.9% to 10.3% in 2005-06 - leaving about 206,000 Neets.
Skills Minister Phil Hope said the increase in post-16 participation in education was very good news.
"Today's statistics show that Neet figures are moving in the right direction.
"This is essential if young people are to gain the skills and qualifications they need in today's economy.
"But, we need to do more and we now have an action plan in place which will help push figures down further by bringing together agencies and policies to work in stronger partnership.
"Increasingly young people themselves are recognising the benefits of staying on. The figures are positive, but we need acceleration in order to achieve our ambition of 90% of 17-year-olds participating by 2015."
Overall the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds in education and training at the end of 2006 rose to 77.3% from 76.8%.
Government statisticians said this meant the number increased by 15,500 to 1.55 million by the end of 2006 - the highest number yet.
But the proportion remains below the 1994 rate of 77.9%.
Some 81.5% of 17-year-olds were participating in education and training in 2006 - an increase of 1.2 percentage points since the end of 2005.
Participation in full-time education by 18-year-olds was also slightly up at 40.8% in 2006.
But participation in education and training by 18-year-olds was down slightly in 2006 to 61.1% from 61.5% in 2005.
School leaving age
The Department for Education and Skills said there were regional differences in the figures with generally higher full-time education rates in the south of England than the north.
But participation in work-based learning tended to be higher in the north than the south.
Chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, which funds further education, Mark Haysom thanked schools, colleges and young people for their hard work.
"Learning plays a crucial role in giving all young people the skills, attitudes and qualifications they need to prepare them for productive and rewarding work in a modern economy.
"I am greatly encouraged to see that such an increasing number of young people are making this decision. Getting vital skills will make a real and lasting difference to people's lives."
The government wants to increase participation in education and training beyond the current school-leaving age of 16.
It aims to get 90% of 17-year-olds to remain in education or work-based learning by 2015. It also plans to make education or training compulsory until the age of 18 by 2015.
Association of Teachers and Lecturers General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted said if the government was to achieve this it would have to ensure the reforms to post-14 education are not allowed to "slip onto the back burner".