Initial destinations of senior phase school leavers

This presents data on initial destinations of school leavers from local authority and grant-aided schools in Scotland.

5. Background Notes

5.1. Background to statistical bulletin

5.1.1. Since 2013, The Scottish Government ( SG) and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) have been consulting with public sector partners, including local authorities, to develop an alternative form of measurement to complement school leaver destination statistics. In August 2016, SDS published the Annual Participation Measure ( APM) for the first time. The APM has been developed with the intention of being the key metric for measuring success in relation to the 'Increase the proportion of young people in learning, training and work' indicator in the National Performance Framework. The latest data on the Participation Measure will be published by SDS in August 2017.

5.1.2. As part of the move to the APM and in order to reduce the range of leaver destination data produced using differing methodologies, SDS have ceased their publication "Initial School Leaver Destinations". This was published for the final time in December 2015. SDS continues to supply initial and follow up destination school leavers data to the Scottish Government Education Analytical Services for their annual National Statistics publication and to update 'Insight', the online benchmarking tool for Scottish local authorities and secondary schools. Initial destinations data provides information on the outcomes for young people approximately three months after leaving school. Initial destinations data is used in the measures presented in Insight, the Education Scotland 'Parentzone' website, and the Scottish Government National Statistics publication 'Summary statistics for attainment, leaver destinations and healthy living'.

5.1.3. This statistical bulletin presents the national picture for initial leavers destinations for senior phase pupils and also includes breakdowns by Local Authority. The cohort of school leavers presented in this publication is consistent with the data presented in the education benchmarking tool 'Insight' and the Education Scotland 'Parentzone' website.

5.1.4. The Scottish Government's National Statistics publication will be published in June 2017 and will also include follow up destinations data, provided by SDS in March, along further breakdowns by pupil characteristics ( e.g. stage of leaving). The leaver cohort for the National Statistics publication includes S3 leavers, whereas the focus of this publication is exclusively on school leavers from the senior phase (S4-S6). The June National Statistics publication can be acessed at

5.2. Data sources and methodology

5.2.1. The statistical extracts for both the Participation Measure and the destination of school leavers are taken from the shared Opportunities for All dataset held by SDS on their customer support system. The status information is gathered though the use of shared administrative data from local authorities, colleges, the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP), Student Awards Agency for Scotland ( SAAS) and the SDS Corporate Training System combined with direct follow up of 16-19 year old customers by SDS staff. The extract used for this publication is taken on the first Monday in October (3 rd October 2016 for 2015/16 leavers).

5.2.2. Initial destinations data from SDS is matched to the Scottish Government's ( SG) pupil census for the same academic year in order to identify the cohort of senior phase school leavers from local authority or grant aided secondary schools. For example, the 2015/16 cohort of school leavers from SDS was matched to the SG pupil census for senior phase pupils in a local authority or grant aided school in September 2015. This cohort is then checked against the pupil census from the start of the following academic year ( e.g. the 2015/16 leaver cohort was checked against the September 2016 pupil census) and any pupils who are found to still be attending school are removed from the leaver cohort. In addition, any leavers that were identified by SDS as having moved out with Scotland are excluded.

5.2.3. A school leaver is classed as a young person in the senior phase (S4-S6) who left school during the school year, where the school year is taken to run from school census day one year to the the day before census the following year. Therefore, for 2015/16 leavers, the leaver year is 16 th September 2015 to 20 th September 2016. For data from 2011/12-2014/15, the reporting period for SDS did not exactly match with the census to census reporting period used by the Scottish Government. This resulted in a small number of pupils being backdated to previous years. From 2015/16, the reporting process was aligned and backdating was not nessesary.

5.2.4. The cohort of leavers included in this publication is not consistent with the former SDS publication "Initial School Leaver Destinations" which was published for the final time in December 2015 and included all leavers from publically funded secondary schools. For example, in 2014/15 SDS reported data on 53,836 leavers whereas this publication reports on 52,433. The additional leavers in the SDS publication included individuals who were identified as a leaver in the shared dataset but then appeared in the school census in the following academic year, individuals who returned to, or joined, a school during the academic year, as well as S3 leavers. This bulletin includes data on 52,249 senior phase school leavers from local authority and grant aided secondary schools in 2015/16.

5.2.5. The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2012 identifies small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across Scotland. It is based on data zones (a small area geographically) and provides an assessment of multiple deprivation based on income, employment, health, education, housing, access to services and levels of crime in the area. It provides a relative measure of deprivation which means that the data zones can be ranked from most to least deprived and cut offs can be applied to identify different levels of deprivation. The calculation of quintiles means that the data zones have been ranked and split into five equal parts with quintile 1 being the most deprived 20 percent of data zones and quintile 5 being the least deprived 20 percent of data zones. School leavers are allocated to datazones, and therefore deprivation quintiles, based on their home postcode from the Pupil Census. For a very small number of individuals (less than 0.01%) home postcode was not known and these individuals were excluded from the deprivation breakdown. This publication uses SIMD 2012 and is consistent with deprivation measures presented in Insight and Parentzone. For further information on the SIMD, please see the link: .

5.2.6. All values in the publication are rounded to one decimal place so may not sum to the totals shown.

5.3. Definition of leaver destinations

All destinations are based on self-reporting by school leavers or administrative data. The following categories for leaver destinations are included in this Statistical Bulletin.

5.3.1. Positive destination: includes higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment and activity agreements.

5.3.2. Higher Education: includes leavers following HND (Higher National Diploma) or HNC (Higher National Certificate) courses, degree courses, courses for the education and training of teachers and higher level courses for professional qualifications. It also includes programmes at a level higher than the standard of the National Qualifications, i.e. above SCQF level 7. Leavers with a deferred, unconditional place in higher education have also been included in this category.

5.3.3. Further Education: includes leavers undertaking full-time education which is not higher education and who are no longer on a school roll. This may include National Qualifications.

5.3.4. Training: includes leavers who are on a training course and in receipt of an allowance or grant, such as the Employability Fund national training programme. It also includes leavers who are on local authority or third sector funded training programmes who are in receipt of a training allowance.

5.3.5. Employment: includes those who are employed and in receipt of payment from their employers. It includes young people undertaking training in employment through national training programmes such as Modern Apprenticeships.

5.3.6. Voluntary work: includes those undertaking voluntary work, with or without financial allowance, who are not 'unemployed and actively seeking', as per the unemployed definition and those participating in Project Scotland/ CSV or other voluntary programmes.

5.3.7. Activity Agreements: includes those for whom there is an agreement between a young person and a trusted professional that the young person will take part in a programme of learning and activity which helps them become ready for formal learning or employment.

5.3.8. Unemployed and seeking employment or training: includes those who are registered with Skills Development Scotland and are known by them to be seeking employment or training. This is based on regular contact between Skills Development Scotland and the client. This does not refer to the definition of 'unemployed' used by the Department of Work and Pensions to calculate published unemployment rates. Young people participating in Personal Skills Development who do not fit in any of the existing categories are counted in this category.

5.3.9. Unemployed and not seeking employment or training: includes young people who SDS is aware of who are actively seeking employment/training. It includes those receiving support from SDS, DWP and other Opportunities for All partners. Individuals can be in this category for a range of reasons. The reasons may involve sickness, prison, pregnancy, caring for children or other dependents or taking time out.

5.3.10. Not known: includes all leavers whose destination is not known either to Skills Development Scotland or to the school attended.

5.4. List of supplementary tables

The following supplementary tables are available at;

  • Publication Table 1: Comparison of initial destinations in 2014/15 and 2015/16
  • Publication Table 2: Initial destinations of school leavers, 2011/12 to 2015/16
  • Publication Table 3: Positive initial destinations by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD) 2012 (2011/12 - 2015/16)
  • Publication Table 4: Senior phase pupils with any positive initial destination by local authority, 2011/12 to 2015/16 (Includes leaver numbers).
  • Publication Table 5: Initial destinations of senior phase school leavers by local authority, 2015/16


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