93.3% of school leavers in positive destinations

Proportion of pupils in Higher or Further Education at record high.

93.3% of pupils had a ’positive destination’ including work, training or further study within three months of leaving school last year, official statistics show.

The proportion of school leavers in higher or further education is at a record high, with 72.2% continuing in education in 2019-20, up from 67.6% in 2018-19.

The statistics highlight the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the fall in positive destinations from 95.0% last year mostly driven by a decrease in leavers going into work.

The figures also show that for National Qualifications:

  • The proportion of school leavers with one pass or more at SCQF Level 5 (e.g. National 5) or better is 85.7%. In 2009-10 the proportion was 77.1%.
  • The proportion of school leavers with one pass or more at SCQF Level 6 (e.g. Higher) or better is 63.9%. In 2009-10 the proportion was 50.4%

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, it is heartening to see a continued high proportion of our pupils in positive destinations after leaving school, with a record percentage continuing in further and higher education.

“This year’s statistics clearly highlight the impact of the pandemic on young people, with a sizeable decrease in those entering employment reflecting the limited opportunities in the labour market. We are providing direct support to those affected through the Young Person’s Guarantee which gives every 16-24 year old a job, placement, training or volunteering opportunity.

“The data shows increases in the proportion of school leavers gaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 5 or better, SCQF Level 6 or better and SCQF Level 7. We also see a welcome increase in school leavers choosing vocational qualifications to develop wider skills for the world of work, with more than a fifth (22.5 per cent) now achieving one or more vocational qualification at SCQF Level 5 or better, compared to 7.3 per cent in 2013/14.

“Closing the poverty-related attainment gap and giving every young person the chance to fulfil their full potential, regardless of their background, remains our defining mission. This commitment is a long-term one, and we know the closure of schools and the cancellation of last year’s exams due to COVID-19 has impacted our progress and made that task harder.

“While official measures of the attainment gap rose slightly over the year, the proportion of leavers from the most deprived areas gaining one pass or more at a given level or better rose at most SCQF levels and the attainment gap is much smaller than it was in 2009/10. Over the last 10 years we have seen the gap close significantly at most SCQF levels with the difference in the proportion of school leavers achieving a pass at SCQF Level 6 (Higher or equivalent) or better among those from the least and most deprived areas decreasing by 9.6 percentage points compared to 2009/10.

“We have committed over £300 million in education recovery over this year and next, including to recruit additional teachers and support staff and address digital exclusion. and I am determined to continue to support our young people through these unprecedented times.”


Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations 2021


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