Publication - Publication

15 to 24 Learner Journey Review phase one: analysis

Published: 21 Mar 2018
Directorate:
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Economy, Education, Work and skills
ISBN:
9781788517003

Analysis undertaken as part of stage one of the Learner Journey review examining current education and training provision for 15 to 24 year olds in Scotland.

84 page PDF

1.7 MB

84 page PDF

1.7 MB

Contents
15 to 24 Learner Journey Review phase one: analysis
1. School Attainment

84 page PDF

1.7 MB

1. School Attainment

As the senior phase of school is the starting point of the Learner Journey, this section examines the available information and evidence around senior phase pupils (S4 to S6) and school pupil attainment.

What are secondary school attendance rates across different stages of schooling?

Chart 1.1 shows the school attendance rates, by stage, for 2014/15. It shows that S6 pupils had better attendance, on average, than secondary school pupils in general and also better attendance rates than those in S5 and S4. Boys had better attendance than girls at every stage except for in S1.

Chart 1.1: School attendance by stage and gender, 2014/15
Chart 1.1: School attendance by stage and gender, 2014/15
Source: Scottish Government (2015), ' Attendance and Absence 2014/15 '

What are the school exclusion rates across learners in different stages of schooling?

Chart 1.2 shows that boys are more likely to be excluded from school than girls at each secondary school stage. It also shows that S5 and S6 pupils are less likely to be excluded from school than pupils in S1 to S4. This is what might be expected as pupils that are likely to be excluded will often leave school early and not stay for S5 and/or S6.

Chart 1.2: Cases of exclusion rate per 1,000 pupils by stage and gender 2014/15
Chart 1.2: Cases of exclusion rate per 1,000 pupils by stage and gender 2014/15
Source: Scottish Government (2016),' Exclusions dataset 2014/15 '

How have exclusion rates changed over time?

Chart 1.3 shows the number of cases of exclusion per 1,000 pupils in the period from 2002/03 to 2014/15. We observe that the cases of exclusion per 1,000 pupils increased between 2002/03 and 2006/07, where it then peaked at 63.9 exclusions per 1,000 pupils. It has then fallen in each of the years to 2014/15 where it reached the lowest rate of this period at 27.2 exclusions per 1,000 pupils.

Chart 1.3: Number of cases of exclusion per 1,000 pupils, 2002/03 to 2014/15
Chart 1.3: Number of cases of exclusion per 1,000 pupils, 2002/03 to 2014/15

Source: Scottish Government (2016),' Exclusions dataset 2014/15 '
Notes: Data series moved to biennial from 2010/11
Rate per 1,000 based on 2014 pupil census figures (grant-aided pupil numbers not included); all rates are rounded separately and may not therefore sum to the total; 2012/13 data amended on 11 Feb 2014 to included information on 3 Edinburgh and 16 Highland exclusions that were supplied after the publication date; Data was updated in Feb 2016 due to double-counting of 25 pupils in the pupil census data used to calculate the rate of exclusion.

An examination of the data for each year from 2002/03 to 2014/15 by stage shows that the picture has remained the same in each of these years in terms of comparing exclusions across stages. With S6 pupils have consistently been the least likely to be excluded followed by those in S5. S3 pupils have consistently been the most likely to be excluded. This holds true for both boys and girls.

What are the levels of attainment for school leavers?

Table 1.1 provides a general overview of the attainment of school leavers, by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved, for each year from 2009/10 to 2015/16.

In the most recent year for which data is available, 2015/16, 42.6 per cent of leavers left with at least one pass at SCQF level 6 (Higher or equivalent). An additional 23.9 per cent left with at least one pass at SCQF level 5 (National 5 or equivalent) and nearly one fifth (19.1 per cent) left with at least one pass at SCQF level 7 (Advanced Higher or equivalent). A further 10.7 per cent left with at least one pass at SCQF level 4 (National 4 or equivalent). A small proportion of learners left with no passes at SCQF level 3 or better (2.0 per cent), or with their highest qualification at SCQF level 3 (1.7 per cent).

Attainment in qualifications at SCQF level 6 and 7 has increased between 2009/10 and 2015/16. The proportion of school leavers attaining at least one pass at level 6 has increased from 34.8 per cent of leavers in 2009/10 to 42.6 per cent of leavers in 2015/16. Attainment at level 7 increased from 15.6 per cent of school leavers in 2009/10 to 19.1 per cent in 2015/16. However, it is important to be mindful that there have been increases in staying on rates in recent years and thus more opportunities for pupils to attain qualifications at these levels.

We can also observe a fall in the proportion of school leavers leaving with low level qualifications (no passes at SCQF level 3 or better, or SCQF level 3). In 2009/10, 2.8 per cent of leavers attained at least one pass at level 3 with a further 2.8 per cent of leavers attaining no passes at SCQF level 3 or better. These figures had fallen to 1.7 per cent and 2.0 per cent, respectively, by 2015/16.

Table 1.1: Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved, 2009/10 to 2015/16

SCQF Level 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16
No passes at SCQF 3 or better 2.8 2.3 1.8 1.5 1.7 2.1 2.0
SCQF level 3 2.8 2.6 2.4 2.2 2.0 1.7 1.7
SCQF level 4 17.3 15.9 14.3 13.6 12.0 11.0 10.7
SCQF level 5 26.7 26.9 25.8 26.9 26.2 24.9 23.9
SCQF level 6 34.8 36.1 38.2 38.1 39.8 41.4 42.6
SCQF level 7 15.6 16.2 17.6 17.6 18.3 18.8 19.1
Number of Leavers 53,134 53,394 49,745 51,647 51,416 52,491 52,305

Source: Scottish Government (2017), ' Attainment and Leaver Destinations Supplementary Data 15/16 '

What are the levels of attainment for school leavers by SIMD decile?

Table 1.2 shows the percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved, for each SIMD decile.

Table 1.2: Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved, by SIMD decile, 2015/16

2015/16 SCQF level 1 (most deprived) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (least deprived) Total
No passes at SCQF 3 or better 4.2 3.3 2.7 2.3 2.1 1.6 1.6 1.1 0.8 0.5 2.0
SCQF level 3 3.8 3.1 2.3 1.9 1.4 1.3 1.0 0.6 0.5 0.4 1.7
SCQF level 4 19.3 17.5 14.8 13.1 11.6 8.6 7.2 5.7 4.8 3.3 10.7
SCQF level 5 32.3 30.9 30.7 27.8 25.4 23.8 21.5 19.1 15.4 11.4 23.9
SCQF level 6 33.3 36.1 38.2 41.2 43.7 44.7 46.4 48.1 49.2 45.1 42.6
SCQF level 7 7.2 9.1 11.1 13.7 15.8 20.0 22.4 25.4 29.2 39.3 19.1
Count of all initial leavers 5,717 5,149 4,986 5,102 5,068 5,252 5,648 5,402 5,365 4,616 52,305

Source: Scottish Government (2017), ' Attainment and Leaver Destinations Supplementary Data 15/16 '

Broadly, it shows that school leavers from the most deprived areas ( SIMD deciles 1 and 2) were more likely to leave school with lower level qualifications (those at SCQF level 5 and below) than those from less deprived SIMD deciles. In comparison – the proportion of leavers whose highest level of attainment is at SCQF level 6 and 7 is much larger for the least deprived SIMD deciles compared with those from the most deprived. With 39.3 per cent of leavers in SIMD decile 10 had attainment at SCQF level 7 compared to just 7.2 per cent of leavers in SIMD decile 1.

What are the levels of attainment of school leavers with additional support needs?

Table 1.3 considers the highest qualifications attained by leavers with additional support needs ( ASN) compared with the highest qualifications attained by leavers with no additional support needs.

It shows that those with no additional support needs are more likely to attain qualifications at higher SCQF levels (Level 6 and 7) than those with additional support needs. In contrast, those with additional support needs were more likely to have their highest level of attainment at lower SCQF levels compared to those with additional support needs. This is quite stark at SCQF level 4 (equivalent to National 4 qualifications). This was the highest level of attainment for 22 per cent of school leavers with additional support needs yet was the highest level of attainment for only 7.3 per cent of school leavers with no additional support needs – those with no additional support needs were more likely to achieve qualifications at higher levels than this.

Table 1.3: Highest qualifications attained by leavers [1] with Additional Support Needs [2] from secondary and special schools, 2015/16

Highest Qualification Attained Any Additional Support Need (as % of total leavers with any ASN) No Additional Support Need (as % of total leavers with no ASN)
No NQ Qualifications at Level 2 or better 7.0 1.1
1+ at SCQF Level 2 1.1 0.0
1+ at SCQF Level 3 6.3 0.6
1+ at SCQF Level 4 22.4 7.3
1+ at SCQF Level 5 29.0 21.8
1+ at SCQF Level 6 26.0 46.9
1+ at SCQF Level 7 8.2 22.2
Number of Leavers 12,754 40,413

Source: Scottish Government (2017), ' Attainment and Leaver Destinations Supplementary Data 15/16 '

There is some disparity in the data when breaking down the additional support needs category into specific reasons for support. For example, when doing this we find that 26.7 per cent of leavers with language or speech disorders left with no NQ qualifications at Level 2 or better which is considerably higher than the figure for leavers with additional support needs in general (7.0 per cent) and the figure of 1.1 per cent for those with no additional support needs.

What are the levels of attainment for school leavers by ethnicity?

Table 1.4 shows the percentage of school leavers with attainment at SCQF level 4 to 6 by ethnicity.

In general, it shows that school leavers from ethnic backgrounds typically had higher levels of attainment than the levels of attainment of white school leavers. For those leavers categorised as 'Asian – Chinese', for example, 91.8 per cent had attainment at level 6 or better. This compares to a figure of 61.7 per cent for all leavers, and a figure of 61.1 per cent for 'White – Scottish' leavers.

Table 1.4: Percentage of school leavers by attainment at SCQF level 4 to 6, by ethnicity, 2015/16

Ethnicity 1 or more at SCQF level 4 or better 1 or more at SCQF level 5 or better 1 or more at SCQF level 6 or better
White – Scottish 96.3 85.4 61.1
White – Non-Scottish 96.1 85.6 62.3
Mixed or multiple ethnic groups 96.4 88.9 72.2
Asian – Indian 98.7 94.2 76.5
Asian - Pakistani 99.0 92.1 73.2
Asian – Chinese 99.5 96.4 91.8
Asian – Other 97.8 92.2 76.9
African/Black/Caribbean 99.7 95.4 76.6
All other categories 94.3 82.9 61.7
Not Disclosed/Not Known 93.6 79.9 55.7
All Leavers 96.3 85.6 61.7

Source: Scottish Government (2017), ' SG Attainment and Leaver Publication '
Notes: Some categories have been grouped together due to small numbers.
Some categories contain between 100-200 leavers.

What do we know about the destinations of winter/statutory school leavers?

Statutory leavers are individuals who leave school at their earliest opportunity. Post-statutory leavers, on the other hand, are those that leave at another point in time (including those that stay on until the end of S6).

To investigate the potential impact of school leaving date and other factors such as SIMD classification on post-school destinations, SDS undertook an exploratory cohort analysis which followed the 2012/13 school leaver cohort over time (6 month intervals). This analysis was undertaken using data held within the Opportunities for All shared dataset. The statutory leavers were split into two categories - statutory winter leavers (those that left school between 1 st October 2012 and 28 th February 2013) and statutory summer leavers (those that left on 31 May 2013). In this analysis, young people are referred to as "participating" when they are in education, employment, or training/other development.

This work provides a starting point for informing our understanding of the destinations and status of statutory and winter leavers compared with post-statutory leavers. It is important to note that SDS recommend exercising caution when studying these findings as the analysis spans a period when data sharing was not as well-established as it is now. Furthermore the analysis considers only a single school leaver cohort. The analysis also shows that as time passes and the cohort of school leavers become older (approaching the age of nineteen), participation rates start to drop slightly. This is in keeping with the published participation measure results which show the majority of young people reported with an unconfirmed status are 19 years old. It is anticipated that as the participation measure develops, the level of those aged 18-19 with an unconfirmed status will decrease especially as HMRC data sharing will provide more comprehensive data on those in employment.

The key findings of the analysis are presented below:

  • The timing of leaving school has a bigger impact upon destinations and participation as further time elapses than living in the most deprived areas of Scotland.
  • Post-statutory leavers are most likely to be in a participating status on leaving school and this continues over the subsequent years as they are the most likely to sustain their outcomes. By comparison, statutory leavers (winter and summer) have a more disrupted journey as they are less likely than post statutory leavers to sustain outcomes, as shown in Chart 1.4.
  • A lower proportion of statutory leavers enter education or employment at their initial stage of leaving compared to post-statutory leavers. This continues throughout the following years. It is less likely for statutory leavers to remain in post school education outcomes compared to post-statutory leavers which may reflect the shorter duration of the courses entered by statutory leavers. Those who leave on their statutory leave date are also more likely than post-statutory leavers to enter shorter term training and other development statuses. In the later years of the analysis it is very unlikely for statutory leavers to be participating in this type of opportunity.
  • Post-statutory leavers are less likely to be in an unconfirmed status – by October 2016 the percentage of post-statutory leavers in an unconfirmed status is almost half of the statutory leaver cohorts.
  • Those who remain in school after their statutory leave date have a more stable leaver journey – they are more likely to have fewer transitions after leaving school - see Table 1.5 below.

Chart 1.4: Percentage participating by stage of leaving October 2013 to October 2016
Chart 1.4: Percentage participating by stage of leaving October 2013 to October 2016
Source: SDS Exploratory Analysis of Outcomes for 2012/13 School Leavers

Table 1.5: Percentage of leavers by total number of transitions – October 2013 to October 2016

Transitions from initial destination No transition from leaver destination One Two Three Four Five Six
Statutory Winter Leavers 13% 25% 24% 21% 12% 5% 1%
Statutory Summer Leavers 11% 24% 25% 20% 13% 5% 1%
Post Statutory Leavers 39% 27% 19% 10% 4% 1% 0%
All Leavers Cohort 33% 27% 20% 12% 6% 2% 0%

Source: Opportunities for All Shared Dataset

What do we know about the SIMD status of statutory school leavers compared with post-statutory school leavers?

The SDS exploratory analysis of outcomes for 2012/13 school leavers found that statutory leavers were more likely to be from the SIMD 20 per cent most deprived than post-statutory leavers. This is shown below in Table 1.6.

Less than a quarter (23 per cent) of all leavers came from the SIMD 20 per cent most deprived. However, when breaking this figure down into individual cohort categories we find that these individuals were more likely to be Statutory Winter Leavers – with 37 per cent of this group coming from the 20 per cent most deprived - or Statutory Summer Leavers – with 33 per cent coming from the 20 per cent most deprived.

Table 1.6: SIMD 2012 Status of School Leavers, SDS 2012/13 School Leaver Cohort Analysis

Analysis Cohort SIMD 2012 Status Count of Leavers % of Leavers
Statutory Summer Leaver Not within 20% Most Deprived 3,680 67%
Within 20% Most Deprived 1,790 33%
Total 5,470 100%
Statutory Winter Leaver Not within 20% Most Deprived 2,570 63%
Within 20% Most Deprived 1,490 37%
Total 4,060 100%
Post-Statutory Leaver Not within 20% Most Deprived 24,870 81%
Within 20% Most Deprived 5,820 19%
Total 30,690 100%
All Leavers Not within 20% Most Deprived 31,110 77%
Within 20% Most Deprived 9,100 23%
Total 40,210 100%

Source: Opportunities for All Shared Dataset
Note: Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10 leavers. Percentages have been calculated on unrounded numbers.

At what stage are candidates sitting qualifications at each SCQF level?

Table 1.7 shows the breakdown, by stage and qualification type, of SQA candidates. For 'awards' at SCQF Level 1 there is a spread of candidates by stage. Nearly a quarter (24.9 per cent) of entries at this level were not at school or college and are listed as 'Other'.

For National 2, 3, 4, and 5's candidates were from a mix of different stages but for each, were most likely to be S4 pupils. This is most apparent for National 3's where we see that 85.3 per cent of candidates were from S4.

For Highers, the majority of candidates were from S5 or S6. Around half of total entries were from S5 pupils (51.7 per cent) and 39.4 per cent were from S6. For AH's, almost all entries were from S6 pupils (95.7 per cent).

Table 1.7: Stage breakdown of candidates by qualification, 2017

Qualification ( SCQF level given in brackets) S3 S4 S5 S6 Other School FE Other
Awards (1) 5.4% 15.3% 21.1% 21.5% 8.8% 3.1% 24.9%
National 2 (2) 4.8% 48.8% 23.2% 12.8% 4.8% 5.7% -
National 3 (3) 2.1% 85.3% 6.9% 2.5% 0.5% 2.7% 0.0%
National 4 (4) 0.4% 65.6% 22.9% 8.5% 0.3% 2.2% 0.0%
National 5 (5) 0.3% 54.1% 28.4% 12.9% 0.4% 3.7% 0.1%
Higher (6) 0.1% 1.1% 51.7% 39.4% 0.7% 7.0% 0.1%
Advanced Higher (7) 0.1% 0.1% 1.9% 95.7% 1.4% 0.3% 0.5%

Source: SQA (August 2017), ' Attainment Statistics (August) 2017 '
Notes: For school candidates the categories are S3, S4, S5 and S6. Where candidates from a school do no fall into any of these categories they are recorded as 'Other School'. College candidates are classed as ' FE'. Any remaining candidates, who are not at school or college, are listed under 'Other'.

What proportion of S6 pupils are studying for Highers and what proportion are studying for Advanced Highers?

The available data does not allow us to sufficiently answer this question but it can provide an indication as to what pupils are doing in S6. The main limitation of our data is that it does not allow us to identify pupils that are studying a combination of qualifications (such as two Highers and two AHs) in one sitting. The evidence would suggest that S6 pupils studying AH qualifications are often studying them alongside other qualifications – given that the majority of AH learners only enter 1 or 2 AH courses which is presumably not enough to fill a school timetable.

The SQA data for 2017 shows there were around 137,700 entries from S6 pupils across National 5, Higher and AH qualifications. [3] To provide some context for this, as at September 2016 there were 32,745 S6 pupils on the school roll. This would suggest that, on average, an S6 pupil enters an approximate 4.2 qualifications. [4]

Table 1.8 shows the number of S6 entries in each of these qualification types. Most entries were in Higher qualifications (76,715). We can also observe that there were more S6 entries to National 5 qualifications (37,915) in 2017 than there were in AH qualifications (23,070).

Table 1.8: S6 Entries by Qualifications, 2017

Qualification Number of S6 Entries
National 5 37,915
Higher 76,715
Advanced Higher 23,070
Total 137,700

Source: SQA (August 2017), ' Attainment Statistics (August) 2017 '
Notes: Number of S6 entries have been calculated based on the SQA estimate of proportion of total entries from S6. Number of entries have been rounded to nearest 5.

What can we say about attainment and entries by SCQF level?

Table 1.9 shows the numbers for entries and attainment by qualification. It also shows attainment as a proportion of number of entries i.e. the pass rate.

The highest number of entries was in National 5 courses (level 5) in which there were 293,220 entries. There were also a high number of entries for Highers (194,813) and National 4s (116,032).

The pass rate was highest for National 3s and National 4s. At these levels, more than 90 per cent of entries resulted in an award – 90.8 per cent and 92.8 per cent respectively. For National 5s, the pass rate was 79.5 per cent. The pass rate was lower for Highers (77.0 per cent) yet slightly larger for AHs (80.0 per cent).

Table 1.9: Entries and Attainment by Qualification, 2017

Qualification ( SCQF level in brackets) Entries Attainment Attainment Rate
Awards (1) - 290 -
National 2 (2) 1,896 1,547 81.6%
National 3 (3) 17,114 15,543 90.8%
National 4 (4) 116,032 107,631 92.8%
National 5 (5) 293,220 233,005 79.5%
Higher (6) 194,813 150,010 77.0%
Advanced Higher (7) 24,112 19,283 80.0%

Source: SQA (August 2017), ' Attainment Statistics (August) 2017 '
Notes: Attainment includes those that were awarded a grade A-C.
Entries are not provided for Awards at SCQF level 1.

Table 1.10 shows the gender balance of entries, by qualification type, for 2017.

We can observe from the table that for higher level qualifications, such as those at Higher and Advanced Higher level, females make up a higher proportion of the total entries – for both of these qualifications the split is 55 to 45 per cent.

The opposite is true when examining qualifications at lower SCQF levels. This is most stark for National 2 qualifications ( SCQF level 2) where 62 per cent of total entries were male.

Table 1.10: Gender Split of Entries by Qualification, 2017

Qualification ( SCQF level in brackets) Percentage of entries that are female Percentage of entries that are male
Awards (1)* 39%* 61%*
National 2 (2) 38% 62%
National 3 (3) 40% 60%
National 4 (4) 44% 56%
National 5 (5) 52% 48%
Higher (6) 55% 45%
Advanced Higher (7) 55% 45%

Source: SQA (September 2017), ' Attainment Statistics (August) 2017 Male ' and SQA (September 2017), ' Attainment Statistics (August) 2017 Female '
Notes: *Figures are for attainment as opposed to entries.

How many learners are currently attaining Highers?

Highers sit at Level 6 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF). Table 1.11 shows the number, and proportion, of Higher entries by stage in 2017. It shows that most Higher entries were from pupils in S5 or S6 of school (91.1 per cent of all entries). The remaining 8.3 per cent of entries were made up of those pupils in S3 and S4, those at FE college, and 'Other' entries.

Table 1.11: Higher Entries by Stage, 2017

S3 S4 S5 S6 Other School FE college Other
Number of Entries 135 2,130 100,670 76,715 1,275 13,680 210
As percentage 0.1% 1.1% 51.7% 39.4% 0.7% 7.0% 0.1%

Source: SQA (August 2017), ' Attainment Statistics (August) 2017 '
Notes: For school candidates the categories are S3, S4, S5 and S6. Where candidates from a school do no fall into any of these categories they are recorded as 'Other School'. College candidates are classed as ' FE'. Any remaining candidates, who are not at school or college, are listed under 'Other'.
Number entries by stage have been calculated based on the proportion of candidates by stage. Total number of higher entries in 2017 was 194,813. Number of entries have been rounded to nearest 5.

The previous tables – that draw upon SQA data – were based on 2017 exam results. The tables to follow are based upon 2016 data as the 2017 data will not be published by SQA until April 2018.

Table 1.12, below, shows the number of Higher entries per learner. Just under a quarter (23.1 per cent) of all Higher candidates entered just one Higher course, 21.5 per cent entered two and 20.2 per cent entered three. The proportion taking four was less, at 15.5 per cent, with around 18.9 per cent entering five. Less than one per cent of learners who entered Highers entered six or seven courses. [5]

These statistics, and those presented in Table 1.7 reflect the many different types of learners entering Higher courses. Some will be S5 pupils sitting five Higher courses in one year with other S5 pupils entering a mixture of Higher and National 4/5 qualifications. Higher entries are also common for S6 pupils - with some combining these with Advanced Highers or other qualifications in the same sitting.

Table 1.12: Higher Entries, 2016

Number of Higher Courses Entered Number of Learners Proportion of Total Learners (%)
1 15,889 23.1
2 14,730 21.5
3 13,869 20.2
4 10,644 15.5
5 12,984 18.9
6 538 0.8
7 10 0.0
Total 68,664  

Source: SQA (2017), ' Annual Statistical Report 2016 '

Table 1.13 presents the number of grades A to C awarded per learner in 2016. It was most likely for learners to attain just one Higher at grades A to C (27.9 per cent of total learners) which is what we might expect given the highest proportion of learners that entered just one Higher course. 9,265 learners (around 13.5 per cent of the total number of learners taking Higher qualifications) were awarded no Highers at grades A to C.

Table 1.13: Higher Attainment - Grades A to C per Learner, 2016

Number of Grades A to C Attained Number of Learners Proportion of Total Learners (%)
0 9,265 13.5
1 19,157 27.9
2 13,692 19.9
3 9,826 14.3
4 6,709 9.8
5 9,563 13.9
6 443 0.6
7 9 0.0
Total 68,664  

Source: SQA (2017), ' Annual Statistical Report 2016 '

What is the gender split for Higher entries and attainment?

Entries

The 2017 SQA data shows that a higher proportion of Higher entries were from females (55 per cent) than from males (45 per cent). However, there is considerable variation in this split when we examine the data by subject.

There were ten subjects in 2017 where entries from females made up 75 per cent or more of the total number of entries. These were Fashion and Textile Technology (in which 98 per cent of the 282 entries were from females), Dance (in which 97 per cent of the 427 entries were female), Childcare and Development (95 per cent of the 714 entries were female), Care (92 per cent of the 1,181 entries), Health and Food Technology (82 per cent of the 1,438 entries), Art and Design (81 per cent of the 5,369 entries), Italian (79 per cent of the 264 entries), Gaelic – Learners (78 per cent of the 69 entries), Psychology (77 per cent of the 3,666 entries), and French (76 per cent of the 3,918 entries).

On the other hand, there were only two subjects in 2017 in which male entries made up more than 75 per cent of total entries – Engineering Science - in which 92 per cent of the 1,126 entries were male and Computing Science, in which 85 per cent of the 4,476 entries were male. Physics, Graphic Communication, and Design and Manufacture technology were other popular options for males with over 70 per cent of total entries from male candidates.

Attainment

The pass rate (grades A to C) in 2017 for females studying Highers is better than the pass rate for males – 80 per cent and 74 per cent respectively. When examining the pass rates by subject, females had higher pass rates for more subjects than males.

Interestingly, for each of the subjects listed above as having 70 per cent or more of their entries from males, female pass rates were higher. The most stark of these is for Design and Manufacture where the pass rate for females was 76 per cent compared to a pass rate for males of 59 per cent.

How many learners attain five As at Higher level in one sitting?

Table 1.14 shows the number of grade As awarded per learner in 2016. 2,362 (3.4 per cent of all those entering Higher qualifications), were awarded five grade As in one sitting. In addition to this, we can observe that 182 learners were awarded six grade A's with a further 3 learners attaining seven Higher qualifications at grade A.

Table 1.12 indicates that there were 13,532 learners entering five, six, or seven Higher courses in 2016. As a proportion of this group (those for who it was possible to attain five grade A's) 19 per cent got five or more grade A's.

Table 1.14: Higher Attainment – Grade As per Learner, 2016

Number of Grade A's Attained Number of Learners Proportion of Total Learners (%)
0 39,446 57.4
1 15,297 22.3
2 6,101 8.9
3 3,169 4.6
4 2,104 3.1
5 2,362 3.4
6 182 0.3
7 3 0.0
Total 68,664

Source: SQA (2017), ' Annual Statistical Report 2016 '

How many learners are currently attaining Advanced Highers?

Advanced Highers ( AH) are usually taken in the sixth year of school or college, usually by individuals who have already attained Higher qualifications. Advanced Highers sit at Level 7 in the SCQF.

Whilst SQA data for number of Advanced Higher entries is available for 2017, statistics for the number of learners are not yet available for 2017. The following analysis is therefore carried out with the 2016 data. Table 1.15 highlights that nearly all, 97.6 per cent, of Advanced Higher entries are undertaken at school (95.8 per cent by S6 pupils).

Table 1.15: Advanced Higher Entries by location of student, 2016

Location of student Number of Entries % of Total Entries
School 23,224 98
Of which:    
  • S3
12 0
  • S4
56 0
  • S5
351 1
  • S6
22,805 96
Other School 282 1
FE College 117 0
Other 171 0
Total 23,794 100

Source: SQA (2017), ' Annual Statistical Report 2016 '
Note: Percentages may not sum due to rounding.

In 2016, there were 23,794 AH entries from 14,246 learners, with several learners entering more than one AH course. The majority of these entries (22,805) were S6 pupils.

Table 1.16 presents the number of entries per learner in 2016. It shows that it was most common for learners, enrolled in AH courses, to be undertaking a single AH course (51 per cent of learners). Nearly a third (31 per cent) were enrolled on two AH courses with a further 16 per cent entering three AH courses. Only around 1 per cent of learners, entered in AH courses, entered four or five AH courses.

Table 1.16: Advanced Higher Entries per Learner, 2016

Number of Advanced Higher Courses Entered Number of Learners Proportion of Total Learners (%)
1 7,336 51
2 4,462 31
3 2,263 16
4 180 1
5 5 0
Total 14,246 100

Source: SQA (2017), ' Annual Statistical Report 2016 '
Note: Percentages may not sum due to rounding.

Table 1.17 presents the number of grades A to C awarded per learner in 2016. It shows that 46 per cent of those taking AH qualifications attained one AH qualification, 24 per cent attained two and around 13 per cent attained three.

Of the total number of learners taking AH qualifications 16 per cent (2,242 learners) were awarded no AHs at grades A to C. However, SQA data also indicates that a similar proportion of learners sitting Higher qualifications were awarded none at grades A to C (13 per cent).

Table 1.17: Advanced Higher Attainment – Grades A to C – per Learner, 2016

Number of Grades A to C Attained Number of Learners Proportion of Total Learners (%)
0 2,242 16
1 6,602 46
2 3,457 24
3 1,783 13
4 157 1
5 5 0
Total 14,246 100

Source: SQA (2017), ' Annual Statistical Report 2016 '
Note: Percentages may not sum due to rounding.

What is the gender split for Advanced Higher entries and attainment?

Entries

The 2017 SQA Attainment Statistics shows that a higher proportion of Advanced Higher entries were from females (55 per cent) than from males (45 per cent). [6] However, there is considerable variation in this split when we examine the data by subject. [7]

There were five subjects in 2017 where entries from females made up 75 per cent or more of the total number of entries. These were Health and Food Technology (of which 87 per cent of 38 entries were from females), Art and Design - Expressive (85 per cent of 818 entries were from females), Gàidhlig (79 per cent of 28 entries), Art and Design - Design (79 per cent of 490 entries), and French (76 per cent of 774 entries).

In 2017, there were four subjects which were dominated (75 per cent or more) by male entries - Engineering Science (of which 95 per cent of the 79 entries were male), Computing Science (of which 88 per cent of the 641 entries were male), Mathematics of Mechanics (81 per cent of 272 entries were male), and Physics (79 per cent of 1,861 entries were male).

Whilst the entries to Advanced Higher English and Maths were somewhat more balanced than the subjects listed above, there is still notable disparity between the proportion of entries that came from males versus the proportion of entries that came from female. For Maths, 63 per cent of the 3,586 entries were from males. On the other hand, for English, 72 per cent of the 2,627 entries were from females.

Attainment

The pass rate (grades A to C) in 2017 for females studying Advanced Highers is higher than the pass rate for males – 82 per cent and 77 per cent respectively. When examining the pass rates by individual subject, females were more likely to have higher pass rates than males although there are several subjects where males perform better. Interestingly, for Computing Science, Mathematics of Mechanics, and Physics – identified as being male dominated in terms of number of entries - female pass rates were higher than the pass rates for males.

What proportion of S6 pupils are studying for Highers and what proportion are studying for Advanced Highers?

The evidence would suggest that those S6 pupils studying AH qualifications are often studying them in combination with Highers – or other qualifications – given that the majority of AH learners only enter 1 or 2 AH courses (not enough to fill a school timetable).

Similarly, we would also expect the S6 pupils studying Higher qualifications to be studying them in combination with other types of qualification. However, the SQA data does not allow us to identify these nuances.

How many learners start Advanced Higher qualifications in 6 th year but do not complete?

The available data only shows us those who pass (by grade) or fail. Where candidates have been entered for a qualification but were not awarded this may be for a number of reasons. For example, they may have failed the course, been absent on the day of the exam, withdrawn from the course etc. The attainment data cannot be broken down to take account of each such subset.

What do the results of the PISA survey tell us about the skills of Scottish pupils at age 15? How do Scotland's 15 year-olds compare to 15 year-olds in other countries?

The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey [8] is an assessment of 15 year-olds' skills carried out under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD).The most recent survey was carried out in Scotland between 3 and 28 March 2015. The pupils tested are generally described at "15-year olds" although the actual age range was 15 years and 2 months to 16 years and 2 months. Students were mostly (87.5 per cent) in the S4 year group.

Scotland's scores in the PISA assessments were similar to the OECD average in science, maths and reading.

Science

  • In science, Scotland's performance was similar to the OECD average.
  • Compared to the 34 OECD countries, plus the three other UK administrations, Scotland performed similarly to 13 countries, including Northern Ireland and the United States, and above 12 countries including Wales and Italy. Twelve countries performed above Scotland, including Canada, Germany, Korea and England.
  • In 2015 19.5 per cent of 15 year-olds in Scotland performed below Level 2, the OECD's baseline of ability to participate effectively in society. This is statistically similar to the OECD average of 21.3 per cent.
  • The proportion of students who were "higher" achievers (Level 5 and above) was 7.5 per cent, similar to the OECD average of 7.7 per cent.
  • The strength of relationship between social disadvantage and a pupil's score in Scotland was similar to the OECD average.

Maths

  • In maths, Scotland's performance was similar to the OECD average.
  • Of the 34 other OECD countries, and three UK administrations, 14 were statistically above Scotland, 13 similar and 10 below. Of the UK administrations, England and Northern Ireland were similar to Scotland and Wales below.
  • The proportion of Scotland's students below Level 2 was 20.5 per cent, statistically smaller than the OECD average of 23.4 per cent.
  • At the other end of the distribution, the proportion of Scotland's students
  • who were higher achievers (Level 5 and above) was 8.6 per cent, lower than the OECD average of 10.6 per cent.
  • The strength of relationship between social disadvantage and a pupil's score in Scotland was similar to the OECD average.

Reading

  • In reading, Scotland's performance in 2015 was at the OECD average.
  • Of the 34 other OECD countries, and three UK administrations, 13 were statistically above Scotland, 12 similar and 12 below. Of the UK administrations, England and Northern Ireland were similar to Scotland, with Wales below.
  • The proportion of students in Scotland below Level 2, was 17.9 per cent, a significant increase on the 2012 figure of 12.5 per cent, but similar to the 2009 average of 16.3 per cent. However it was lower than the OECD average of 20.0 per cent.
  • At the other end of the distribution, the proportion of Scotland's students who were higher achievers (Level 5 and above) was 6.4 per cent, statistically lower than the OECD average of 8.4 per cent.
  • The strength of relationship between social disadvantage and a pupil's score was lower in Scotland than the OECD average.

Contact