Information

Education outcomes for looked after children: 2016 to 2017

Data on attainment, post-school destinations, school attendance, school exclusions and achievement of curriculum for excellence attainment levels.

This document is part of a collection


Post-school destinations

  • ★ Looked after school leavers are less likely to go in to positive destinations than school leavers in general, especially higher education
  • ↑ The percentage of looked after leavers in positive follow up destinations has increased since last year

This section presents data on the destinations of the 968 young people who were looked after during the period 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017 and who left school during 2016/17. Information is collected on the destination of school leavers in the September after they leave school (initial destination) and again the following March (follow-up destination). School leavers who are engaged in higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment or an Activity Agreement [1] are classified as having a 'positive destination'. Other destinations include school leavers who are unemployed and individuals where their destination is not known. For more information on school leaver destination categories, see background note 4.8.

Initial and follow-up destinations

A lower proportion of looked after children enter positive destinations than all school leavers, but this gap has narrowed since 2009/10. The percentage of looked after school leavers in positive follow-up destinations has increased greatly since 2009/10 as seen in chart 3.

The lower proportion of looked after children going into positive destinations is likely to be related to looked after young people leaving school at younger ages. Young people looked after for part of the year are less likely than those looked after for the full year to enter a positive destination after leaving school ( Table 2.1). While 8 out of 10 (81%) young people looked after for the full year went on to a positive destination after leaving school, 7 out of 10 (69%) of those looked after for part of the year did. This compares with 94% of all 2016/17 school leavers ( Table 2.1).

Among young people looked after for the full year, 47% were either in Higher or Further Education, with the figure for those looked after for part of the year being 33%. In comparison, more than two thirds (68%) of all school leavers were in Further or Higher Education ( Table 2.1). The lower proportion of looked after young people entering higher education can largely be explained by leaving school earlier and consequent lower levels of qualifications.

Table 2.1: Percentage of school leavers by initial destination (3 months after leaving school), for all school leavers and those who were looked after children, 2016/17 (1)

Looked after leavers – full year Looked after leavers – part year All school leavers
Higher Education 6 4 41
Further Education 41 29 27
Training 8 8 2
Employment 18 14 22
Voluntary Work 1 * 1
Activity Agreement 8 14 1
Unemployed Seeking 13 21 4
Unemployed Not Seeking 5 9 1
Unknown * * 0
% in a positive destination (2,3) 81 69 94

(1) Cells containing * represent small numbers that have been suppressed to maintain confidentiality. All figures were revised in 2014/15, so these figures should not be compared with previously-published figures.
(2) Due to the effects of rounding some totals will not equal the sum of their parts.
(3) Positive destinations includes higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment and activity agreements.

The rate of positive destinations among looked after children at the time of the follow-up (9 months after leaving school) has improved greatly over the period of measurement. For children looked after for the full year, this has increased from 40% in 2009/10 to 76% in 2016/17. For children looked after for part of the year, the percentage in positive destinations has increased from 36% to 64% over the same period (Chart 3).

Chart 3: Looked after children in positive follow up destinations, 2009/10 to 2016/17
Chart 3: Looked after children in positive follow up destinations, 2009/10 to 2016/17

The positive destination is more likely to be sustained after nine months for all school leavers rather than for looked after leavers. Around three quarters (76%) of school leavers looked after for the full year were in a positive follow up destination, down from 81% in a positive initial destination. For school leavers looked after for part of the year these figures were 64% and 69% respectively. The reduction is also present for all school leavers, but to a lesser extent (93% in a positive follow up destination, down from 94% in positive initial destinations)

There is a consistently large fall in the proportion of looked after young people sustaining a place in further education ( Tables 2.1 and 2.2). For school leavers looked after for the full year, 41% were initially in further education, falling to 29% at follow-up.

Table 2.2: Percentage of school leavers by follow-up destination (9 months after leaving school), for all school leavers and those who were looked after children, 2016/17 (1)

Looked after leavers – full year Looked after leavers – part year All school leavers
Higher Education 6 3 38
Further Education 29 24 23
Training 10 4 2
Employment 21 20 28
Voluntary Work 1 * 1
Activity Agreement 8 11 1
Unemployed Seeking 14 21 4
Unemployed Not Seeking 8 11 2
Unknown 2 4 1
% in a positive destination (2,3) 76 64 93

(1) Cells containing * represent small numbers that have been suppressed to maintain confidentiality. All figures were revised in 2014/15, so these figures should not be compared with previously-published figures.
(2) Due to the effects of rounding some totals will not equal the sum of their parts.
(3) Positive destinations includes higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment and activity agreements.

Table 2.3 shows the percentage of looked after school leavers in positive initial and follow-up destinations. For children looked after for the full year, there is a decrease in proportions in positive destinations at follow-up in most groups except for those children with more than one placement and those in 'other community'. For those looked after for part of the year the only groups that didn't experience a decrease were those in other residential accommodation. The proportion of children in residential placements is small and so the increase in these percentages at follow-up may not be significant. For those looked after for the full year, the largest decreases at follow-up are seen in those young people in other residential accommodation and those looked after at home with parents. For those looked after for part of the year the largest decrease is seen in children with foster carers purchased by the local authority and children in local authority homes.

Table 2.3: Positive initial and follow-up destinations among looked after school leavers, by placement type, 2016/17 (1)(2)

Type of accommodation throughout 2016/17 Looked after for the full year Looked after for part of the year
In a positive destination after three months In a positive destination after nine months In a positive destination after three months In a positive destination after nine months
In the community (children with one placement)
At home with parents 70 58 64 58
With friends or relatives 86 79 78 68
With foster carers provided by LA 90 87 84 79
With foster carers purchased by LA 85 82 79 68
In other community (3) 100 100 * *
Residential Accommodation (children with one placement)
In local authority home 78 75 78 68
In voluntary home 100 * * *
In other residential (4) 75 58 67 75
More than one placement 69 71 60 54
Scotland 81 76 69 64

(1) Some children who were included in the initial destination survey could not be contacted at the time of the follow up destination survey. This is why the total number of children in each survey differs.
(2) Cells containing * represent small numbers that have been suppressed to maintain confidentiality.
(3) Includes with prospective adopters.
(4) Includes in residential school, in secure care accommodation, and crisis care.

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