The Impact of RSLA: Growing Up and Leaving School

  • Dan Finn
Part of the Youth Questions book series (YQ)


Before assessing how RSLA and secondary education for all were finally made a reality in the lives of the young working class, it is worth considering what secondary schools appear to offer young people and their parents.


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  1. 1.
    The research drawn on in this chapter has been fully written up in my unpublished Ph.D. thesis: New Deals and Broken Promises: Young Workers, the School Leaving Age and Youth Unemployment, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts, Birmingham University, 1982.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The choice of entry to four ‘O’ levels or equivalent reflected a number of important considerations. In the first place, four ‘O’ levels represents the bottom end of a significant cutoff point in relation to access to sectors of the youth labour market and to forms of higher education (Markall and Finn, 1982; Ashton and Maguire, 1982). Secondly, although CSEs are of considerable importance in internal school hierarchies they are largely discounted by employers, save for the elusive grade 1 (Hunt and Small, 1981; Freedman, 1981).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Between 1977 and 1979 research in an ex-mining community in Durham found that the majority of school children were involved in paid work before leaving school (James, 1984). In Birmingham, there was a significant increase in registered child employment in the late 1970s and it seemed that unemployment and the pressure on living standards was forcing more young people to look for part-time work to get some independence from their parents and obtain the commodities which their parents would not, or could no longer afford to, supply (Forester, 1979, p. 259). Ron Jeffries, a youth worker writing in the journal of the National Youth Bureau in 1982, registered surprise at the extent of child labour, and after conducting a survey with the help of over seventy youth leaders, parents and teachers, recorded the rates of pay and conditions of work of young children and expressed his horror at the lack of protection and degree of exploitation uncovered. Early in 1985, the Low Pay Unit published results of a survey of 1,700 children which found that 40 per cent were working at the time of the investigation, and over two-thirds had worked recently in some employment other than running errands or babysitting. The majority were working illegally, either because they were under-aged, working the wrong hours, or were working in jobs they should not have been doing. Many of them had suffered from accidents at work (MacLennan et al., 1985).Google Scholar

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© Dan Finn 1987

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  • Dan Finn

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