Record high for school leavers in positive destinations

Deprivation gap in positive destinations falls by half.

94.4% of pupils had a ’positive destination’ including work, training or further study within three months of leaving school last year, official statistics show.

The figures also reveal that the gap between those from the most and least deprived communities achieving a positive destination has halved since 2009/10, with an increase in positive destinations for school leavers from both backgrounds.

Over the same period there have been increases at all levels of attainment – the qualifications young people are achieving.

For the first time more than 30% of pupils left school with a minimum of five passes at Higher Level or better, up from 22.2% in 2009/10. The gap between those from the most and least deprived areas achieving a pass at Higher Level or better is now at a record low, reducing for the eighth successive year.

In addition, more young people are choosing to remain at school, with almost two thirds leaving in S6.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“These welcome statistics show that more young Scots are studying, training or working within three months of leaving school than ever before. And, the gap between the richest and poorest communities for those getting into one of these positive destinations is now half what it was. That is real world progress in tackling an age old problem.

“They also show pupils are generally staying at school for longer and gaining more qualifications between fourth and sixth year. I am particularly pleased to see the attainment gap between school leavers achieving a pass at Higher Level or better is at a record low.

“At National 4 and 5 level, however, the attainment gap has remained broadly flat over the last two years which reflects the distance we know we have to go and why we are investing more than £180 million through the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2019/20 alone.

“The figures published today are encouraging but we know there is more to do to raise attainment and ensure all our young people have the very best chance to build the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to succeed – regardless of their background.” 


The 2009/10 summary statistics for attainment and initial leaver destinations are the earliest comparable figures to those published today.

A positive destination includes higher education, further education, training, employment, voluntary work and activity agreements.

Levels of attainment refer to SCQF Levels. 


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