Chapter 7: Background notes
7.1 National Statistics publication
This is a National Statistics Publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics.
These statistics undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. This publication has been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority.
7.2 Sources and methodology
Data on National Qualifications and awards are provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is used as the basis for reporting attainment. The SCQF Levels are described in Section 4.1.
The development of Insight, a professional benchmarking tool used by local authorities and schools, has led to some changes in the data we receive and the methodology for the school leaver attainment data. Attainment data includes qualifications achieved throughout all stages of a pupils schooling. When calculating school leaver attainment the qualifications data from SQA are available from 2005/06 on a consistent basis, meaning any attainment for earlier leaver cohorts which pre-dates 2005/06 (i.e. in early stages of secondary school) may be missing. Insight focuses on Senior Phase attainment (S4 to S6) whereas attainment at any stage is included in this publication where possible.
The attainment data are based on the result date of learners' qualifications (consistent with Insight). This is different from previous attainment data which were based on completion date. In some cases, this may lead to attainment being reported in a different academic year than had previously been the case, or as reported by SQA. There is also the possibility of a small number of awards being excluded if a review is successful after a pupil has left. Only attainment data for candidates with a Scottish Candidate Number in the pupil census that year are received.
This publication uses the 'latest and best' approach for attainment data. This means that only the best result within a subject is counted, where a grade A to C (or ungraded pass) is considered a pass. For example, if a pupil passes Higher Mathematics and Advanced Higher Mathematics the following year, only the Advanced Higher qualification will be counted when looking at how many qualifications at any level that leaver has achieved by the time they left school. Also, if a pupil attains a D at a certain level this is not counted as achieving that level and is counted as being equivalent to attainment at the level below (note, even though there may not be a qualification offered at the level below). For example, if a pupil attains a D at SCQF Level 5 in a certain subject this would be counted as attaining at SCQF Level 4 or better for that subject and not at SCQF Level 5 or better.
Attainment statistics exclude special school pupils unless otherwise stated.
School leavers from 2017/18 are the third cohort to have experienced the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) throughout the senior phase of their school education. However, a small number of the 2017/18 school leavers cohort have achieved the old qualifications and these are counted within the attainment measures. School leavers from 2013/14 and 2014/15 will have taken a range of qualifications from the current set to older qualifications that have now been phased out.
For most young people S4 is the last compulsory year of school, but the majority choose to stay on and complete S5 and S6 (see Chart 1). Highers (SCQF Level 6) are generally taken in S5/S6; Highers, sometimes along with Advanced Highers (SCQF Level 7, usually taken in S6), are the qualifications required for entry into Higher Education.
Under CfE, schools and their partners are able to offer greater personalisation and choice in the Senior Phase (S4 to S6) in a range of ways, for example by: designing the Senior Phase as a three year experience rather than planning each year separately; delivering qualifications over a variable timeframe in response to young people's needs and prior achievements; and developing pathways for able learners which bypass qualifications at lower levels to allow more time to be spent on more challenging learning at higher levels. Developing the Young Workforce (see background note 7.6) has built upon this and has strengthened partnerships between schools, colleges, employers and other providers to increase the range of options and pathways on offer to young people.
With more choices available in the senior phase, young people are also taking a range of vocational qualifications, including National Certificates, Higher National Qualifications, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, National Progression Awards and Skills for Work qualifications, alongside their National Qualifications. These provide a valuable route into Further Education, Higher Education, training or employment. This publication concentrates on National Qualifications (e.g. National 5, Highers, etc.) and Skills for Work qualifications. Statistics on school leavers achieving vocational qualifications can be found in supplementary tables. A list of the tables is available at background note 7.8.
Literacy and numeracy attainment
When the publication refers to Literacy or Numeracy attainment, a pupil is counted towards having a literacy or numeracy attainment if they have passed all units from the list below.
|SCQF Level 4|
|Intermediate 1||Gaidhlig Unit Group 1, English Unit Group 1, English Unit Group 2, Gaidhlig Unit Group 2, English Unit Group 3||Maths Unit Group, Maths Unit Group 2|
|National 4||ESOL Unit Group||Application of Mathematics, Gniomhachas Matamataigs (Applications of Mathematics)|
|SCQF Level 5|
|Intermediate 2||Gaidhlig Unit Group 1, English Unit Group 1, English Unit Group 2, ESOL Unit Group 1, ESOL Unit Group 2, Gaidhlig Unit Group 2, English Unit Group 3||Maths Unit Group, Maths Unit Group 2|
|National 5||English Unit Group, ESOL Unit Group, Gaidhlig Unit Group, English Unit Group 2, English, English Speakers of Other Languages, Gaidhlig||Mathematics Unit Group, Matamataig Unit Group, Application of Mathematics, Mathematics, Gniomhachas Matamataigs (Applications of Mathematics), Matamataigs (Mathematics)|
|SCQF Level 6|
|Higher||Gaidhlig Unit Group 1, English Unit Group 1, English Unit Group 2, ESOL Unit Group 1, ESOL Unit Group 2, Gaidhlig Unit Group 2, English Unit Group 3, English Unit Group 4, ESOL Unit Group 1, ESOL Unit Group 2, Gaidhlig Unit Group 3, English Unit Group 5||Maths Unit Group, Maths Unit Group 2, Matamataigs Unit Group, Maths Unit Group 3, Matamataigs Unit Group 2|
Information on the destination of leavers from publicly funded schools is provided to the Scottish Government from the Opportunities for All shared dataset managed by Skills Development Scotland (SDS). The sharing of administrative data between partners including Local Authorities, Colleges, the Scottish Funding Council, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland and the Department for Work and Pensions is central to the maintenance of the shared dataset. This, combined with direct follow up of individuals, allows SDS to provide the destination of each young person identified as being a school leaver.
A pupil is counted as a school leaver if they have a leaver record on the shared data set, a pupil census record for the same academic year, and no pupil census record in the following academic year.
A school leaver is defined as a young person of school leaving age who left school during or at the end of the school year, where the school year is taken to run from school census day one year to the day before census day the following year, where census day is the third Wednesday in September. Therefore for 2017/18 school leavers, the leaver year is 20th September 2017 to 18th September 2018.
The initial destinations data provide information on the outcomes for young people approximately three months after leaving school (1st Monday in October) while the follow-up survey provides information on the outcomes of young people approximately nine months after leaving school (1st Monday in April), if pupils stay to the end of the academic year. These collections should be seen as complementary to one another but it should be noted that various factors may affect the results at different time periods. This publication is based on the initial destination of all school leavers whereas the initial leaver destination information shown within Insight covers S4 to S6 secondary school leavers.
School leavers who moved out-with Scotland, were deceased or who had returned to school between the initial and follow-up survey have been excluded.
Throughout this publication the initial destination statistics exclude special school leavers from the calculations. For information on initial destination statistics which include special school leavers see the supplementary tables. A list of the tables is available at background note 7.8.
7.3 Definitions and data quality
7.3.1 Attainment and school leaver data matching
The school leaver destinations data is matched to the pupil census so that pupil characteristics and attainment data can be linked to the destinations. Only leavers with a match to the pupil census are included in the analysis within this publication. This means that some leavers are excluded from the analysis.
For the 2013/14 school leaver cohort, the leaver matching methodology was updated. This updated methodology has been adopted since then, and data back to 2009/10 leavers have been produced on a consistent basis. Previously the information supplied by SDS was taken as the primary information and the characteristics information from the pupil census was matched to this. Now the pupil census is taken as the primary information. This leads to small differences between the leavers data published here and the leavers data previously published by SDS. These differences include:
- Only leavers with a match to the pupil census in their last year of attendance at school are included. For example, a leaver needs to have a record in the 2017 pupil census to be included in the 2017/18 leaver cohort.
- If a pupil appears in the leavers data provided by SDS but can only be matched to the census two years prior to leaving then they are recorded in the leaver cohort closest to their last pupil census record. For example, if they are supplied in the 2017/18 leavers data and they have a 2016 census record but not a 2017 record, then they will be recorded in the 2016/17 leaver cohort.
- The school which is recorded in the pupil census is taken to be the school for that leaver. If this differs from the school supplied by SDS from the shared data set and they are not both the same school type (i.e. one is a special school and one is a secondary school) then this can affect who is included in the leaver cohort.
- If someone is identified on the shared data set as being a school leaver but also appears in the next year's pupil census, they are removed from the leaver cohort for that year.
Since 2009/10 the data have been linked using this updated methodology and supersedes previously published figures for these years. These data are not directly comparable with data prior to 2009/10, and caution should be exercised when making comparisons with data prepared using the previous method.
All matching is done within certain constraints:
- Pupil census record must be in S3 or above, or categorised as SP (Special School), or AD (Adult Learner) in order to be included.
- School attended must be the main school attended by the pupil.
After being matched to the pupil census the data were then matched to the SQA attainment data using the Scottish Candidate Number (SCN).
If a pupil does not have a Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) category in the census data, the SIMD of the pupil's school is used.
7.3.2 Leaver destinations
Leaver destinations are categorised by SDS based on shared administrative data wherever possible. Alternatively, they have been captured by staff in data sharing organisations or through direct data input by SDS staff, as a result of contact with individuals, their parents/representatives or organisations an individual is engaging with. The following categories for leaver destinations are included in this statistical bulletin:
Positive destination: includes higher education, further education, training, employment, voluntary work and activity agreements.
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 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.
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.
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 that are in receipt of a training allowance or those participating in Community Jobs Scotland.
Employment: includes those who consider themselves to be 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 and Graduate Apprenticeships.
Voluntary Work: includes those undertaking voluntary work/volunteering which will involve a young person giving of their time and energy through a third party with or without financial allowance.
Activity Agreements: includes those for whom there is an agreement between a young person and an advisor that the young person will take part in a programme of learning and activity which helps them become ready for formal learning or employment.
Unemployed seeking: includes those known by Skills Development Scotland or their partners to be seeking employment or training. This includes those receiving support from SDS, Department of Working and Pensions and other partners. It is based on regular contact between the supporting organisation and the individual. This does not refer to the definition of 'unemployed' used by the Department of Work and Pensions to calculate published unemployment rates.
Young people who are participating in Personal Skills Development (PSD) and who do not readily fit into another category are counted as unemployed seeking. Please see section 7.3.3 for more information.
Unemployed not seeking: includes all those individuals who are not yet ready or are unavailable to enter the labour market for a range of reasons. The reasons may involve ill health/sickness, prison, pregnancy, caring for children or other dependents or taking time out. Young people recorded as PSD (Social & Health) may also be included, as specialist provision may not be designed to prepare the individual for entry to the labour market. Please see section 7.3.3 for more information.
Unknown: includes all leavers whose destination is not known either to Skills Development Scotland, the school attended, other partners or were not able to be contacted at the survey point.
7.3.3 Personal Skills Development
Young people who have a destination as Personal Skills Development (PSD) on the Opportunities for All shared dataset fall into one of two different categories:
PSD (Employability): including individuals who participate in activities with the aim of employment. For example community learning and development, third sector organisation and Work Programs via DWP.
PSD (Social & Health): includes individuals who may not be ready to enter the labour market and require access to support from support services to make transitions into learning/work or adulthood. An example of this is where an individual undertakes structured opportunities appropriate to their long term needs or to address their barriers to engaging in education, employment or training.
Young people participating in Personal Skills Development (PSD) are mapped to a destination category based on details of the activity recorded on the shared dataset. PSD activity that does not readily fit into any other category are counted as unemployed seeking. This differs from the Annual Participation Measure reported by Skills Development Scotland, which reports all PSD activity as participating.
The table below shows the number of school leavers, who have an initial destination recorded as PSD on the Opportunities for All shared dataset along with the over-arching category under which they are recorded for the purposes of this publication from 2012/13 to 2017/18.
Number of school leavers with an initial destination as Personal Skills Development and the category they are placed in for this publication1, 2012/13 to 2017/18
1. Destinations combine together for disclosure control.
2. Unemployed includes unemployed seeking and unemployed not seeking.
Following user feedback, we are currently scoping out the appropriate categorisation of school leavers' with PSD, within the destination categories. As part of the scoping exercise, we are undertaking engagement with key stakeholders to ensure the relevance and usefulness of the statistics for PSD school leavers.
The following symbols are used:
- = nil
* = suppressed
7.5 Additional Support Needs
An Additional Support Need (ASN) is recorded where a pupil is receiving any form of additional support for learning, this could be for a wide variety of reasons, of different durations and of any type. The different types of support provided include Co-ordinated Support Plans (CSP) and Individualised Educational Programmes (IEP) as well as disabilities, Child's Plans and other plans. Under previous legislation a pupil may have been categorised as having a Record of Need (RoN).
7.6 Developing Scotland's Young Workforce
The Scottish Government established the independent Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce, led by Sir Ian Wood, in January 2013. Its remit was to explore how we might develop a modern, responsive and valued system for vocational training and emulate the labour markets of the best performing European countries. More information on the Developing Scotland's Young Workforce strategy is available here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/12/7750. Although this publication focusses on attainment in the National Courses, within the supplementary tables, 'Table A1.3 Percentage of secondary and special school leavers from publicly funded schools attaining vocational qualifications at SCQF Level 2 to 7, by local authority' looks at attainment in vocational qualifications. The latest Developing the Young Workforce progress report is available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/developing-young-workforce-fourth-annual-progress-report-2017-18/.
7.7 UK comparisons
Scotland has a different set of qualifications to the rest of the UK and comparisons cannot be made directly. In order to compare attainment between UK countries we recommend using the results of the OECD PISA survey.
The information presented here is for young people who have left school, while in England and Wales information is collected on 16-19 year olds who are not in education, employment or training. As a result direct comparisons cannot be made.
7.8 List of supplementary tables
A large number of additional tables are produced in Excel on or after the publication date and are published on the Scottish Government website.
Supplementary tables on attainment and school leaver initial destination are available including breakdowns by: characteristics of leavers; local authority; additional support needs; stage of leaving; and subject. There will be information on attainment and leaver destinations of those from special schools.
Supplementary tables on attainment and leaver destinations are available at www.gov.scot/stats/bulletins/01327
|School Leaver Destinations|
|C1.1: Number and percentage of initial school leavers by stage of leaving, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L1.1. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded schools in Scotland by initial destination category: 1992/93 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L1.2. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and gender, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L1.3. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and 6-fold Urban Rural classification of school, 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L1.4. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and ethnic background, 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L1.5. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and national identity, 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L1.6. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and whether declared or assessed disabled, 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L2.1. Percentage of school leavers by initial destination and local authority, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L2.2. Number of school leavers by initial destination and local authority, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table L3.1. Percentage of secondary and special school leavers from publicly funded schools in Scotland by initial destination and Additional Support Need, 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A1.1. Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved, by SIMD quintile, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A1.1b. Percentage of school leavers by total qualifications achieved, by SIMD quintile, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A1.2. Attainment of secondary school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved in each subject, 2011/12 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A1.3. Percentage of secondary and special school leavers from publicly funded schools attaining vocational qualifications at SCQF Level 2 to 7, by local authority, 2014/15 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A2.1. Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved, by local authority, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A2.2. Percentage of school leavers by total qualifications achieved, by local authority, 2009/10 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A2.3. Percentage of school leavers by total qualifications achieved, by local authority and SIMD, 2012/13 to 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A3.1. Percentage of secondary and special school leavers from publicly funded schools by highest SCQF Level achieved and Additional Support Need, 2017/18||26/02/19|
|Table A3.2. Percentage of secondary and special school leavers from publicly funded schools by total qualifications achieved and Additional Support Need, 2017/18||26/02/19|
There is no additional cost to SQA to supply the attainment data.
As part of the overall approach to delivering the Scottish Government's Opportunities for All commitment the follow-up of school leavers is a business as usual activity for Skills Development Scotland and costs are embedded within their daily operations. This is unlike earlier years where two dedicated exercises were undertaken and costs could be attributed to the school leaver follow up exercise.
7.10 Further information
Copies of this publication are available on the Scottish Government's website at: www.gov.scot/stats/bulletins/01327
School level information, including attainment on a consistent basis as available through Insight (a professional benchmarking tool used by local authorities and schools), currently available here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/Dashboards . As part of the National Improvement Framework, we are committed to further improve the level of information about schools available to those who require this (including parents). This will involve publishing additional clear information on each school on a range of key measures, such as attendance rates, children's progress throughout the Broad General Education, etc. and have been available since August 2018.
There is a range of other reliable information on the performance of Scotland's school pupils.
The scope of these leaver destination statistics is limited to school leavers, but other sources are available to assess patterns across the wider society. For example, information on employment trends more broadly is available within the Labour Market section of the Scottish Government website, and the Scottish Funding Council publishes data on participation in Higher Education.
The Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) have developed the Annual Participation Measure (APM) which complements school leaver destination statistics. Published every August, the APM captures the activity of all 16-19 year olds across a complete year, including those who choose to stay on at school as well as those who have left school. The APM has been adopted as the metric for measuring success in relation to the national indicator 'Increase the proportion of young people participating in learning, training and work' within the National Performance Framework. Latest results were published in August 2018 and are available here: https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/publications-statistics/statistics/participation-measure.
The Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels 2017/18 Return is a census based data collection and gathers data on whether or not pupils have achieved the expected CfE Level for their stage based on the class teachers' professional judgement. The collection covers numeracy and the three elements of literacy (reading, writing, listening and talking) at four stages within Broad General Education: P1, P4, P7 and S3. Results for end 2017/18 were published in December 2018 and are available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/achievement-curriculum-excellence-cfe-levels-2017-18/
Scotland participates in the OECD's triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey. This assessment is undertaken by 15 year-olds in over sixty countries, including all OECD countries, and as such is a key international benchmark of performance. The results of previous PISA surveys are available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/PISA.
Media enquiries about the information in this Statistics Publication Notice should be addressed to Michael Berry 0131 244 2967.
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