Chapter 4: Attainment
- 62.2 per cent of leavers left with one pass or more at SCQF Level 6 or better in 2017/18 - up from 61.2 per cent for 2016/17.
- 2.2 per cent of school leavers attained no passes at SCQF Level 3 or better in 2017/18 - up slightly from 2016/17 (2.0 per cent).
- 96.3 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 3 or better in 2017/18 - down slightly from 2016/17 (96.5 per cent).
- Similarly 95.8 per cent of leavers attained numeracy at this level in 2017/18 - down slightly from 2016/17 (96.3 per cent).
4.1 SCQF Framework & National Qualifications
The diagram below illustrates the SQA qualifications and awards that are included in this report. See background note 7.2.1 for more information.
4.2 Attainment of school leavers
Table 4 shows that 35.7 per cent of 2017/18 school leavers left with one pass or more at SCQF Levels 3 to 5 as their highest qualification. A small proportion (2.2 per cent) of school leavers attained no passes at SCQF Level 3 or better, while 62.2 per cent left with one pass or more at SCQF Levels 6 or 7.
Table 4: Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved, 2012/13 to 2017/18
|No passes at SCQF 3 or better||1.5||1.7||2.1||2.0||2.0||2.2|
|SCQF Level 3||2.2||2.0||1.7||1.7||1.7||1.6|
|SCQF Level 4||13.6||12.0||11.0||10.7||10.2||10.3|
|SCQF Level 5||26.9||26.2||24.9||23.9||24.9||23.8|
|SCQF Level 6||38.1||39.8||41.4||42.6||41.9||42.0|
|SCQF Level 7||17.6||18.3||18.8||19.1||19.3||20.2|
Table 5 provides information on the total attainment of school leavers at each SCQF Level or better. The table shows that the percentage of school leavers achieving one pass or more at SCQF Level 4 or better has remained more or less stable at 96.2 per cent (down very slightly from 96.3 per cent in 2016/17); the percentage of leavers that have achieved a pass at SCQF Level 5 has decreased slightly (from 86.1 to 85.9 per cent) and, the percentage achieving a pass at SCQF Level 6 increased (from 61.2 to 62.2 per cent).
A time series from 2009/10 to 2017/18 can be found in the supplementary tables. A list of these tables is available at background note 7.8.
Table 5: Leaver attainment by SCQF Level or better and number of passes achieved, percentage of leavers, 2016/17 to 2017/18
|2017/18 SCQF Level||1 pass or more||2 passes or more||3 passes or more||4 passes or more||5 passes or more||6 passes or more||7 passes or more|
|3 or better||97.8||96.4||94.6||92.5||89.0||82.7||68.7|
|4 or better||96.2||94.2||92.0||89.4||85.6||79.2||65.7|
|5 or better||85.9||78.8||72.1||65.2||57.4||48.9||38.4|
|6 or better||62.2||52.4||44.9||37.9||30.4||19.8||9.6|
|2016/17 SCQF Level||1 pass or more||2 passes or more||3 passes or more||4 passes or more||5 passes or more||6 passes or more||7 passes or more|
|3 or better||98.0||96.6||94.9||93.0||89.9||83.9||70.3|
|4 or better||96.3||94.4||92.5||90.0||86.3||80.2||67.1|
|5 or better||86.1||78.8||72.0||64.6||56.7||48.0||37.6|
|6 or better||61.2||51.6||44.2||37.3||29.9||19.4||9.3|
* percentages based on fewer than 5 pupils have been suppressed for disclosure and quality reasons.
4.3 School leaver attainment by deprivation
In 2017 the Scottish Government consulted on proposals for measuring the poverty related attainment gap and milestones towards closing it; focusing on the impact of the education system as a whole and using a range of measures that reflect key stages of the learner journey and the breadth of issues that can impact on attainment. The outcome was a basket of 11 key measures (supported by 15 sub-measures), three of which are based on school leaver attainment by deprivation, namely:
- The proportion of leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 4 or better
- The proportion of leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 5 or better
- The proportion of leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 6 or better
Chart 4 shows that, looking at the proportion of leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 4, the gap between the most deprived and least deprived areas increased slightly between 2016/17 and 2017/18. This was due to a slight decrease in the proportion of leavers from the most deprived areas attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 4.
The proportion of leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 5 has increased for leavers from the least deprived areas and decreased slightly for leavers in the most deprived areas; this has led to an increase in the gap from 19.3 to 20.3 percentage points.
At SCQF Level 6, the gap has reduced slightly. This is because the increase in the proportion of leavers from the most deprived areas attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 6 was greater than the increase in the proportion of leavers from the least deprived areas attaining this.
Chart 4: Percentage of school leavers by attainment at SCQF Level 4 to 6, by SIMD1 quintile, 2015/16 to 2017/18
pp = percentage point difference between most and least deprived
1. Based on SIMD 2012 for 2015/16 and SIMD 2016 for 2016/17 and 2017/18. More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/SIMD.
4.4 School leaver attainment by pupil characteristics
Table 6 shows school leaver attainment by pupil characteristic such as gender and ethnicity. It shows that females are continuing to outperform males at SCQF Levels 4 to 6 with the gap being wider at higher SCQF levels. Pupils recorded as Asian-Chinese continue to have the highest level of achievement, with 90.3 per cent achieving one pass or more at SCQF Level 6 or better. Pupils with an additional support need (ASN) are less likely to achieve SCQF Levels 4 to 6, than pupils without an additional support need. Pupils living in Accessible Rural areas are the most likely to achieve at SCQF Level 4 and 6, whereas pupils from Remote Rural areas are the most likely to achieve SCQF Level 5.
Table 6: Percentage of school leavers by attainment at SCQF Level 4 to 6, by pupil characteristic, 2016/17 and 2017/18
|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||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||85.8||60.5||96.2||85.6||61.3|
|White - non-Scottish||95.4||86.2||61.8||95.5||85.8||63.6|
|Mixed or multiple ethnic groups||97.3||90.2||71.8||97.7||90.3||67.6|
|Asian - Indian||99.2||94.5||79.5||*||96.8||80.8|
|Asian - Pakistani||98.5||93.5||75.0||99.1||93.4||74.1|
|Asian - Chinese||99.5||98.9||90.8||*||96.0||90.3|
|Asian - Other||98.2||93.6||77.6||97.0||93.2||76.7|
|African/ Black/ Caribbean2||97.9||94.8||75.9||96.0||90.4||73.5|
|All other categories3||95.8||86.5||66.2||92.4||78.8||58.3|
|Not Disclosed/Not known||92.0||74.5||50.6||93.7||80.6||55.5|
|Large Urban Areas||95.9||86.1||62.2||95.7||85.3||62.9|
|Other Urban Areas||96.0||84.6||58.7||96.1||85.1||60.5|
|Accessible Small Towns||96.8||87.1||63.7||96.8||86.8||64.6|
|Remote Small Towns||96.0||85.3||57.3||95.3||84.6||58.3|
|Additional Support Needs4|
* percentages based on fewer than 5 pupils have been suppressed for disclosure and quality reasons.
1. The categories used to collect ethnicity and national identity in the 2011 pupil census agree with the categories used in the main population census. Some categories have been grouped together due to small numbers. Some categories contain between 100-200 leavers.
2. For 2016/17 and 2017/18 the 'African/ Black/ Caribbean' category includes 'African', 'African - Other', and 'Caribbean or Black' categories.
3. For 2016/17 and 2017/18, 'All other categories' includes 'Other - other' and 'Other - Arab'.
4. Pupils who have a CSP, IEP, Child's Plan are assessed or declared disabled or have another need.
4.5 Literacy and numeracy
Literacy and numeracy are key skills for any leaver, irrespective of the destination they are aiming for. Literacy is taken to be the ability to communicate by reading, writing, and listening and talking. Numeracy is defined as the ability to use numbers in order to solve problems by counting, doing calculations, measuring, and understanding graphs and charts.
A range of courses are included in the literacy and numeracy measures as set out in background note 7.2.1. They are selected based upon the outcomes and assessment standards for SQA's literacy and numeracy units at National 3, 4 and 5, with the key criterion being that the main purpose of the qualification or award is to improve literacy and/or numeracy skills.
Trends for literacy and numeracy may be slightly affected by unit attainment and the replacement of Standard Grades. When looking at achievement in literacy and numeracy, a pass in relevant units (rather than full qualifications, for example) can count as achieving literacy or numeracy at that level. Standard Grade courses were not unit based so a pupil would have to pass the course in order to achieve literacy or numeracy at that level, whereas with unit based courses, a pupil who did not pass the course but achieved the relevant units would be counted as passing literacy or numeracy at that level.
Table 7 shows the percentage of 2017/18 leavers attaining literacy and numeracy at SCQF Levels 3 to 5 or better. At each level, more leavers attained literacy skills than numeracy skills; at SCQF Level 3 or better, 96.3 per cent of leavers attained literacy while 95.8 per cent of leavers attained numeracy at this level. 94.3 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 4 or better whilst 90.8 per cent attained numeracy skills at this level. Similarly, 81.6 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 5 or better, whilst 69.1 per cent attained this level in numeracy.
Table 7: Leaver attainment in literacy and numeracy by SCQF Level, percentage of leavers, 2014/15 to 2017/18a
|3 or better||96.5||96.5||96.5||96.3||96.3||96.1||96.3||95.8|
|4 or better||93.9||94.1||94.4||94.3||88.1||89.9||90.7||90.8|
|5 or better||74.6||79.0||80.8||81.6||62.7||66.9||68.8||69.1|
a. Caution should be exercised when making comparisons over time.