Gap year

This is a year taken out, between leaving school and starting a degree course (although students increasingly are taking a gap year after university before starting a career).

After 13 years of school, many young people take this opportunity to do something completely different, either on their own initiative or through one of the established organisations. Some spend the year teaching English in Africa, doing voluntary work in Leeds, taking a Spanish course in Ecuador, getting work experience in a City law firm, conserving turtles in Sri Lanka, taking an art foundation course in London – or just earning some money or seeing the world. Schools vary considerably in the numbers taking gap years: in some schools hardly anyone takes one; in others over 70% of pupils do.