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Statistics Publication Notice: Education Series: SQA Attainment and School Leaver Qualifications in Scotland: 2004/05

DescriptionThis Statistics Publication Notice presents information on the attainment of National Qualifications by pupils attending publicly funded secondary schools and by school leavers. Selected information on attainment in special schools is also included.
ISBN0 7559 6000 9
Official Print Publication DateMarch 2006
Website Publication DateMarch 14, 2006

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ISBN 0 7559 6000 9 (Web only publication)
ISSN 1479-7569

This document is also available in pdf format (1136k)
The tables are available in an Excel Spreadsheet (228k)

A Scottish Executive National Statistics Publication

This Statistics Publication Notice presents information on the attainment of National Qualifications by pupils attending publicly funded secondary schools and by school leavers. Selected information on attainment in special schools is also included. It updates the Statistics Publication Notice "School Attainment and Qualifications of School Leaver Qualifications in Scotland: 2003/04" published on 5 April 2005. This Notice also presents attainment data by a number of different pupil characteristics.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF) is used as the basis for reporting attainment. The SCQF levels are shown below for information.

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF) levels:

Level 7

CSYS at A-C; Advanced Higher at A-C

Level 6

Higher at A-C

Level 5

Intermediate 2 at A-C; Standard Grade at 1-2

Level 4

Intermediate 1 at A-C; Standard Grade at 3-4

Level 3

Access 3 cluster; Standard Grade at 5-6

Any attainment below SCQF level 3 is not reported on in this publication.

The main findings are:

Attainment:

  • Cumulative attainment has remained stable in recent years. Attainment is greater for females than males in all stages and in all categories. (Tables 1-3)
  • Of the pupils in S4 in 2002/03, 34 per cent had gained 5 or more awards at SCQF level 5 or better by the end of that year. This had increased to 47 per cent by the end of 2004/05. (Table 3)

Calculating an average tariff score for each pupil (see note 3.11) allows easier comparisons of different types of qualifications.

  • In S4, pupils attending schools in rural areas had higher average tariff scores than pupils attending urban schools. (Table 4)
  • Pupils registered for free school meals scored on average less than those who were not. (Table 4)
  • Data on looked after children is incomplete and may not be representative of all looked after children (see background note 4.3). However, the information available suggests that looked after children without a record of needs or individualised education plan have a lower average tariff score than pupils who are not looked after but do have a record of needs or individualised education plan. (Table 4)
  • Chinese, Indian and Mixed race pupils in S4 attained the highest average tariff scores over the last three years. (Table 5)

School Leavers:

In 2004/05:

  • 4.3 per cent of leavers obtained no awards at SCQF Level 3 or better (this compares with 4.2 per cent in 2003/04 and 4.8 per cent in 2002/03). It should be noted that some of these pupils will have achieved unit awards or Access 1 & 2 Cluster awards, however these are not currently included in the analyses. One or more passes at SCQF Level 7 were obtained by twelve per cent of leavers which is broadly similar to the figures for previous years. (Table 8)
  • Almost twelve per cent of school leavers who were registered for free school meals attained no awards at SCQF level 3 or better, compared to three per cent of leavers not registered. (Table 9)
  • Ten per cent of pupils leaving schools in large urban areas attained at least one award at SCQF level 7. This compares to 16 per cent of pupils leaving schools in small remote towns. (Table 9)
  • A higher proportion of females than males leaving publicly funded schools achieved passes at all SCQF Levels, except where three or more passes at SCQF Level 7 were attained. (Table 10)
  • Ninety-three per cent of leavers attained English at SCQF Levels 3 to 5 and 92 per cent attained these levels in Mathematics. The proportions attaining English at SCQF Levels 6 and 7 were 26 per cent and two per cent respectively and the corresponding results for Mathematics were 18 per cent and two per cent. (Tables 11, 12 & 13)

Special Schools:

  • There has been a slight but continued decrease in the number of qualifications gained in special schools, however there has been a small increase in the proportion of passes from 2003/04 to 2004/05.

The following tables are available:

Attainment:

Table 1: Attainment of the pupils who were in S4 in 2004/05
Table 2: Attainment of the pupils who were in S4 in 2003/04
Table 3: Attainment of the pupils who were in S4 in 2002/03
Table 4: Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by characteristic of pupil: 2004/05
Table 5: Three year average tariff score of S4 pupils, by ethnic background and gender: 2002/03-2004/05
Table 6: Three year average tariff score of S4 pupils, by ethnic background and registration for free school meals: 2002/03-2004/05
Table 7: Three year average tariff score of S4 pupils, by urban/rural location of school and registration for free school meals: 2004/05

School leavers:

Table 8: Highest qualifications attained by leavers, by gender: 2002/03 - 2004/05
Table 9: Highest qualifications attained by leavers, by characteristic of pupil: 2004/05
Table 10: Total qualifications attained by leavers, by gender: 2002/03 - 2004/05
Table 11: Total qualifications attained by leavers at SCQF levels 3 to 5, by subject and gender: 2004/05
Table 12: Total qualifications attained by leavers at SCQF Level 6, by subject grade and gender: 2004/05
Table 13: Total qualifications attained by leavers at SCQF Level 7, by subject grade and gender: 2004/05

Special Schools:

Table 14: Single year attainment in all special schools, by SCQF level, year and gender: 2001/02-2004/05

The following charts are available:

Chart 1 Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by ethnic background: 2004/05
Chart 2 Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by national identity: 2004/05
Chart 3 Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by asylum status: 2004/05
Chart 4 Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by urban/rural location of school: 2004/05
Chart 5 Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by looked after status and Record of Needs/Individualised Educational Programme status: 2004/05
Chart 6 Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by looked after status: 2004/05
Chart 7 Average tariff score of S4 pupils, by Record of Needs/Individualised Educational Programme status: 2004/05
Chart 8 Three year average tariff score of S4 pupils, by ethnic background and gender: 2002/03 - 2004/05
Chart 9 Three year average tariff score of S4 pupils, by characteristic of pupil: 2002/03 - 2004/05
Chart 10 Three year average tariff score of S4 pupils, by ethnic background and registration for free school meals: 2002/03 - 2004/05
Chart 11 Three year average tariff score of S4 pupils, by urban/rural location of school and registration for free school meals: 2002/03 - 2004/05

BACKGROUND NOTES

1. National Statistics Statement

This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

2. Data Sources

2.1 Information on school leavers is collected from individual schools via either a paper return or electronic data exchange through schools' Management Information Systems.

2.2 Data on National Qualifications are obtained from the Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA).

2.3 Pupil data comes from the annual Pupil Census. In September 2004, Pupil Census data was collected electronically, through local authorities, from all publicly funded schools as part of the Scottish Exchange in Educational Data (ScotXed) Programme. ScotXed supports and promotes effective and secure data exchanges so that key partners in school education in Scotland can benefit from access to information to monitor and improve education services. Further information can be found at www.scotxed.net. Previous years' school roll figures were obtained from the Census as at September in the relevant year.

3. Definitions

3.1 The tables in this Statistics Publication Notice mostly show attainment of National Qualifications in publicly funded secondary schools. One table is shown for special schools. This publication does not include data from Further Education Colleges.

3.2 Publicly Funded Schools include education authority, grant-aided and self-governing schools. Special Schools include some Independent Special Schools.

3.3 The arrangements for leaving school were laid down in the Education (Scotland) Act in 1976 and the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. Pupils are regarded as having left on achieving the school leaving age in 2004/05 if they either:

reached the age of 16 between 1 March and 30 September 2005 and left school at the end of the school year 2004/05;

OR

reached the age of 16 between 1 October 2004 and the end of February 2005 and left school at the end of the winter term 2004/05.

These arrangements therefore allow some pupils to leave school while they are still 15 years old.

3.4 Examination data are Post-Appeals and update the figures published in September 2005.

3.5 The tables cover the attainment of National Qualifications ( NQs) at Standard Grade, SCE Higher and Certificate of Sixth Year Studies ( CSYS) and also the new National Qualifications at Access 3, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher, and are presented either using the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF) Levels or average tariff scores. Some pupils will have achieved unit awards, Access 1 & 2 Clusters and non NQ awards, however these are not currently included in the analyses.

3.6 Access Clusters, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 and the new Higher were introduced in 1999/00. Advanced Highers were introduced for the first time in the exam year 2000/01. Courses are made up of internally assessed units and an external examination.

3.7 From 2002/03, the CSYS has been completely replaced by Advanced Higher. Attainment at CSYS is shown for previous years.

3.8 For new National Qualifications, except Access courses, awards at A-C are regarded as passes. A grade D is counted as a near miss and is not included as a SCQF pass. It is however, taken account of in the UPS scale. Pupils who pass the examination but are not registered as passing all the units are included in the number of presentations but not in the number of passes. Access clusters are awarded as either a pass or fail, and are not graded.

3.9 Standard Grade is certificated at 3 levels: Credit (grades 1 and 2), General (grades 3 and 4), Foundation (grades 5 and 6) with a grade 7 being awarded to those who complete the course only.

3.10 In order to record the attainment of an entire cohort, attainment in S5 and S6 is reported as a percentage of the relevant S4 roll. For example, attainment in S5 in 2004/05 is calculated as a percentage of the September S4 roll in 2003. S6 attainment is calculated from the September S4 roll in 2002.

3.11 Data in some tables are presented as average tariff scores. The purpose of calculating an average tariff score is to enable certification of different types to be considered together. This makes it easier to compare average attainment for different subgroups within the population. The tariff score of a pupil is calculated by allocating a score to each level of qualification and award, using the Unified Points Score scale. For example, a Standard Grade at level 1 counts as 38 points and at level 4 counts as 14 points. Further information and a full list of SQA National Qualifications and their associated tariff scores is shown in Annex A.

3.12 The urban / rural classifications in this publication are based on the postcode of the school and not that of the pupil. The classifications are defined as follows:

Large urban areas - settlements over 125,000 population. This covers the city conurbations of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Other urban areas - settlements of 10,000 to 125,000 people.

Accessible small towns - settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 people and within 30 minutes drive of a settlement of 10,000 or more.

Small remote towns - settlements of between 3,000 and 10,000 people, who are not within 30 minutes drive of a settlement of 10,000 or more people.

Accessible rural areas - settlements of less than 3,000 people and within 30 minutes drive of a settlement of 10,000 or more people

Remote rural areas - settlements of less than 3,000 people who are not within 30 minutes drive of a settlement of 10,000 or more people.

3.13 The ethnic background and national identity questions in the Census were completed by parents or pupils. Provision of this information was optional and no values were imputed by teachers. For national identity, pupils/parents were asked to state which nationality they considered themselves to be, rather than any legal definition.

3.14 When possible, the full list of ethnic background categories collected have been included in this publication. However, where the total number of pupils within a category are between 1 and 4 (inclusive) or where if shown it would be possible to calculate other values less than 5, this category is included in the "All Other Categories" figure. In Table 9, only categories containing a total of 100 pupils or more are shown separately. This is due to the small number of pupils that fall under each heading. It should be noted that percentages and average tariff scores calculated from small numbers may be misleading.

4. Notes

4.1 Whilst the data relating to school leavers are the best that the schools are able to provide at the time, there will be cases where a pupil unexpectedly returns to school. Therefore, the figures for the latest year are likely to be slight over-estimates and may be revised downwards in the future.

4.2 This publication links data from up to three separate sources using a pupil identifier. This process achieves a high rate of successful linkage, but in a small number of cases mis-matching or non-matching can occur. Table 4 reports on the attainment of 58,846 S4 pupils, out of a total S4 population of 58,871.

4.3 Figures on the number of looked after children from the 2004 Pupil Census were about half of those reported in "Children's Social Work Statistics: 2004/05". This may be in part due to apparent problems schools have in keeping accurate information on the looked after status of pupils. As the data is incomplete, the figures should be interpreted with caution: it may be biased towards the lower or higher attaining group. However the remaining sample provides important information and allows more detailed analysis than available from any other source. The Executive is taking steps to improve the quality of reporting in future years.

4.4 Boxplots have been used in order to show the spread in attainment of pupils. A brief explanation of boxplots and their use is contained in Annex B.

4.5 All percentages are rounded separately and breakdowns may consequently not sum to 100 per cent.

5. Enquiries

Copies of the tables are available on the Scottish Executive's website at www.scotland.gov.uk. Public enquiries (non-media) about the information contained in this Statistics Publication Notice should be addressed to Claire Crowley, Assistant Statistician, The Scottish Executive Education Department, Education Statistics, Area 1-B South, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ. Tel. 0131 244 7976 or e-mail to: educ.outcomes.stats@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Media enquiries about the information in this Statistics Publication Notice should be addressed to Marion MacKay (0131) 244 3070.

ANNEX A: UNIFIED POINTS SCORE SCALE

The Unified Points Score Scale is an extended version of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service ( UCAS) Scottish Tariff points system. A full list of courses, awards and corresponding tariff points is listed below. The tariff score of a pupil is calculated by simply adding together all the tariff points accumulated from all the different course levels and awards he/she attains.

The relativities between types of certification are taken from the principle that the value of an A award at one level is as close as possible to, but lower than, the value of a C award at the next level above.

Course Level

Award

Tariff Points

Advanced Higher

A

120

CSYS

A

120

Advanced Higher

B

100

CSYS

B

100

Advanced Higher

C

80

CSYS

C

80

Advanced Higher

D

72

Higher

A

72

Higher

B

60

Higher

C

48

Higher

D

42

Intermediate 2

A

42

Standard Grade

1

38

Intermediate 2

B

35

Intermediate 2

C

28

Standard Grade

2

28

Intermediate 2

D

24

Intermediate 1

A

24

Standard Grade

3

22

Intermediate 1

B

20

Advanced Higher

Unit

20

Intermediate 1

C

16

Standard Grade

4

16

Higher

Unit

12

Intermediate 1

D

12

Standard Grade

5

11

Standard Grade

6

8

Access 3

Cluster

8

Intermediate 2

Unit

7

Unallocated Unit

( NC Module)

6

Unallocated Unit

(Short Course)

6

Intermediate 1

Unit

4

Standard Grade

7

3

Access 3

Unit

2

Access 2

Unit

1

ANNEX B: BOXPLOTS

Boxplots have been used to provide a visual summary of the range of scores attained by a group of pupils, after the tariff scores are ordered from highest to lowest. The five main points shown by a boxplot can be seen below:

Boxplot diagram

It can be seen that the box contains the middle half of the scores attained by pupils. The larger the box, the greater the spread in scores attained by the middle group of pupils. The Middle value of all scores attained is shown by the line across the box. The lines from the box show the minimum and maximum values attained by pupils.