15-24 Learner Journey Review

Report of the Scottish Government's review of education provision for 15-24 year olds.

The Education & Skills System

Key facts about the education and skills system

30. In terms of what we know about the range of journeys through the system, as an early task in the review it was established that:

Key facts:

Most school leavers in Scotland go into further study; the majority of these go to Higher Education (Higher Education ( HE) can be in a college ( HNC/D) or a degree programme at a university)

  • In 2015/16, 37.3 per cent of all school leavers went on to Higher Education, 22.4 per cent into Further Education, 28.7 per cent into employment. [3]

A substantial proportion of Higher entries are from S6 pupils

  • In 2017, 51.7 per cent of total Higher entries were from S5 pupils and 39.4 per cent were from S6.
  • In 2017, in S6 most entries were in Higher qualifications (76,710), then National 5 qualifications (37,910) then Advanced Higher qualifications (23,070). [4]

Increasing numbers of young people are staying on at school until S6

  • In 2017, the S6 cohort was 62 per cent the size it had been in S3. In 2007 this was only 44 per cent, meaning that there has been an 18 percentage point increase on those staying on to S6. [5]

The vast majority of year one HE entrants from school are from S6 compared to S5.

  • In 2015/16, 9.2 per cent (1,210) of S5 leavers went to HE compared to 54.8 per cent (18,200) of S6 leavers. [6]

    Over the past 17 years, there has been a decline in the numbers of school leavers going from S5 to year 1 at university

  • In 2000/01, 1,150 individuals aged 17 and under entered university falling to 385 by 2015/16. This equates to 4.0 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively of all Scottish Domiciled individuals going to university. [7]

There is limited progression from S6 to year 2 at university, including from learners with Advanced Highers ( AH).

  • Of those progressing from S6 to university, only around 1.4 per cent enter at year 2 of university. [8] At the same time, 12,004 learners (84 per cent of all pupils taking an AH course) achieved at least one AH qualification of which 1,945 learners (14 per cent) achieved 3 or more AH qualifications. The majority (96 per cent) of AH are undertaken by S6 pupils. [9]

A large proportion of FE learners in college don't complete at the first go

  • In 2016/17, the non-completion rate for full-time FE courses was 34.7 per cent (with partial success completion rate being 9.6 per cent) [10]

More than half of college learners repeat a level of study at university

  • In 2014/15, 8,402 HNC/D students progressed onto university. Of this number, 4,008 (48 per cent) articulated with Advanced Standing (where their credit was fully recognised); 863 (10 per cent) with Advanced Progression (only some of their credit was recognised) and 3,515 (42 per cent) with Progression (their credit was not recognised). [11]

Winter leavers have poorer outcomes than other learners

  • S4 and S5 statutory winter and summer leavers are less likely to be participating in education or employment after leaving school than those who remain in school after the statutory leave date. The participation rate for winter and summer statutory leavers in October 2016 was 64 per cent, whereas those who left after the statutory date had an equivalent rate of 85 per cent. [12]

The majority of those who enrol on a Modern Apprenticeship end up in work

  • In 2016, 91 per cent of completers of a Modern Apprenticeship were in work 6 months after the completion date compared with 63 per cent for non-completers. [13]

31. The Scottish Government invests in the education and training system via a number of routes. Information on the most recent data concerning the Scottish Government expenditure or funding for a range of activities, specifically relating to teaching as well as an indication of the number of individuals who are expected to benefit from this provision can be found at /policies/young-people-training-employment/15-24-learner-journey-review/

32. The available data has made clear that whilst the education and skills system works well for most, there are clear areas for improvement, not least in improving the equality of experience for different groups of learners, and that a greater understanding is needed on the reasons for this. The evidence base was subsequently developed over the course of the review and included:

  • Research with young people, undertaken by SQW working with Young Scot
  • Further analysis and preparation of analytical reports by the Scottish Government Education Analysis Division
  • A report summarising the engagement undertaken with all college regions & their partners
  • A report summarising employer engagement
  • Reports from each of the five project review groups
  • Submissions received from partners, including from Colleges Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and Universities Scotland.

33. All of which is available at /policies/young-people-training-employment/15-24-learner-journey-review/

34. The process of engagement is set out at Annex A.

35. Gaps in the evidence base persist at the end of this review, reflecting, in part, the way in which data is currently collected separately across the different parts of the system. The need for a more joined-up evidence base, therefore, is a key finding from the review – making clear the need to develop a better understanding of how the system works as a whole.

36. As an outcome of the review, and as part of the implementation of the Enterprise and Skills review, the Scottish Government has begun the process of building a more robust evidence base and skills performance framework. This review recommends that this should take as its starting point the value added by parts of the system, and a focus on destinations and longer term outcomes of all learners. This is covered in more detail on page 64 of this report.

37. Given the complexity and breadth of this work, the work on data will be completed over time and as part of an on-going commitment to a more joined up education and skills system, whereby decisions on investment are driven increasingly by the value they create for the learner, business and the economy.


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