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Last Updated: Wednesday September 03 2008 06:31 GMT

Kids must keep learning until 17

Children taking an exam

If you're starting out at secondary school in England this week you're going to be learning until you're 17.

That's because the government has changed the rules on the age that kids can stop being educated, and has raised it by a year.

Not every 17-year-old has to stay in school, but if they want to leave they'll have to get training instead.

The government hopes that extra year of learning will help you learn more skills, which will help you get a job.

Other changes mean you could start learning about subjects like engineering or construction instead of some of the more traditional ones.

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Children at school
And if you do well in the new subjects you could be studying for a new type of qualification called a diploma, instead of a GCSE.

At the moment around 200,000 people aged 16-18 aren't in school or in training, and according to the government that's too many.

Subjects for new diplomas
Creative and media
Information technology
Health and social care
Construction and the built environment

Changes will help UK business

Experts think that could make it hard for UK businesses to compete with others from around the world, and hope that keeping people learning for longer will help.

And the changes don't stop there.

Children starting secondary school next year will have to keep learning until they are 18.