§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures are in place to encourage schoolchildren to stay in school after the age of 16. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
"14—19: opportunity and excellence", issued in January 2003, sets out our plans to reform education and training for young people, offering a broader and more flexible range of options, including more vocational learning opportunities, to encourage greater participation and higher attainment throughout the 14—19 phase. Young people may choose to study at school, in a college or workplace, or a combination of these, depending on their individual needs and preferences.
From September 2004, education maintenance allowance will be available across the country, offering means-tested payments to help support young people in post-compulsory education.
The Connexions card is available to all young people aged 16—19 and offers a wide range of discounts on goods and services which help reduce the cost of learning. In addition young people attending a place of learning which adopts the card can earn points for attendance. These points can be exchanged for a wide variety of incentives and "money can't buy" opportunities which are exclusive to those who stay in learning.