Children starting Secondary schools in England this week will be the first to be affected by the new school leaving age.
The Education and skills bill introduces a requirement for children to remain in education past the current leaving age of 16.
With effect from 2015 pupils will have to remain in some form of education or training until 18, but as an interim measure from 2013 pupils will not be able to leave their education until they are 17.
The school leaving age has seen many changes throughout history as set out below
1893 - leaving age raised to 11
1899 - leaving age raised to 12
1918 - full-time education compulsory from 5 to 14, exemptions dropped
1936 - leaving age to be raised to 15 from 1939, not implemented because of the outbreak of war
1944 - legislation to enable raising leaving age to 15, and 16 "as soon as it was practicable"
1947 - leaving age raised to 15
1959 - report recommending leaving age of 16
1963 - another report recommended 16
1964 - preparations for change begin
1968 - change postponed
1971 - leaving age raised to 16 from September 1972
1997 - all children must remain in education until the last schoolday in June in the year they turn 16
(information from BBC and DfES)
It is expected that The Education and Skills Bill will have a similar effect on pupils in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government will be able to opt out but a spokesperson has said that the Welsh Assembly would want to encourage more young people to stay in education, but without compulsion.