Publication - Statistics

Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations, No. 2: 2020 Edition

Published: 25 Feb 2020

This statistical publication provides information on the educational attainment and initial destinations of 2018/19 school leavers from publicly funded schools in Scotland.

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35 page PDF

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Contents
Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations, No. 2: 2020 Edition
Chapter 4: School Leaver Attainment

35 page PDF

1.1 MB

Chapter 4: School Leaver Attainment

  • 60.5 per cent of leavers left with one pass or more at SCQF Level 6 or better in 2018/19 – down from 62.2 per cent for 2017/18.
  • 2.2 per cent of school leavers attained no passes at SCQF Level 3 or better in 2018/19 – the same as in 2017/18 (2.2 per cent).
  • 96.1 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 3 or better in 2018/19 – down slightly from 2017/18 (96.3 per cent).
  • Similarly, 95.8 per cent of leavers attained numeracy at this level in 2018/19 – the same as in 2017/18 (95.8 per cent).

4.1 Attainment Data

Attainment data accounts for National Qualifications achieved throughout all stages of a pupil’s education at school.  The range of qualifications included in this publication can be found in the diagram in section 1.2.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is used as the basis for reporting attainment. This publication reports the number of passes at a given SCQF level or better and highest SCQF level achieved at SCQF Levels 3 to 7

SCQF levels, in ascending order, indicate the level of difficulty of a particular qualification, and allow for broad comparisons to be made between qualifications.

For more information, see section 7.2.1.

4.2 Attainment of School Leavers

Table 4 indicates that 37.2 per cent of 2018/19 school leavers left with one pass or more at SCQF Levels 3 to 5 as their highest qualification while 60.5 per cent left with one pass or more at SCQF Levels 6 or 7. A small proportion (2.2 per cent) of school leavers attained no passes at SCQF Level 3 or better.  Some of these school leavers have attainment in other courses/units either in courses at SCQF levels 1 or 2 or in courses/units not covered in these statistics (such as National Progression Awards, National Certificates and Awards).  More information can be found in supplementary table A1.4.

Table 4: Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved, 2013/14 to 2018/19

  Percentage
SCQF Level 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
No passes at SCQF 3 or better 1.7 2.1 2.0 2.0 2.2 2.2
SCQF Level 3 2.0 1.7 1.7 1.7 1.6 1.9
SCQF Level 4 12.0 11.0 10.7 10.2 10.3 10.9
SCQF Level 5 26.2 24.9 23.9 24.9 23.8 24.5
SCQF Level 6 39.8 41.4 42.6 41.9 42.0 41.4
SCQF Level 7 18.3 18.8 19.1 19.3 20.2 19.1
Number of leavers 51,416 52,491 52,305 51,300 49,748 49,760

Table 5 provides information on the total attainment of school leavers at each SCQF Level or better. The table shows that 95.9 per cent of school leavers attained one or more pass at SCQF Level 4 or better in 2018/19 (down from 96.2 per cent in 2017/18); the percentage of leavers that achieved one or more pass at SCQF Level 5 or better also decreased slightly (from 85.9 to 85.1 per cent) and the percentage achieving one or more pass at SCQF Level 6 or better decreased (from 62.2 to 60.5 per cent).

A time series from 2009/10 to 2018/19 can be found in the supplementary tables available here: http://www.gov.scot/ISBN/9781839605628.  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, 2017/18 and 2018/19

2018/19  Percentage
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 96.1 94.0 91.6 87.7 80.5 66.3
4 or better 95.9 93.6 91.2 88.2 84.0 77.1 63.5
5 or better 85.1 77.6 70.5 63.4 55.8 47.8 37.6
6 or better 60.5 50.6 43.0 36.1 28.7 18.5 8.9
7 19.1 8.0 2.7 0.3 0.0 * -
2017/18  Percentage
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
7 20.2 8.5 3.0 0.3 * * -

4.3 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 school leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 4 or better, the gap between the most deprived and least deprived areas increased between 2017/18 and 2018/19 from 6.1 percentage points to 6.7 percentage points. This was due to a decrease in the proportion of leavers from the most deprived areas attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 4 or better.

The proportion of school leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF Level 5 or better has decreased for both leavers from the least and most deprived areas; there has been a very slight decrease in the size of the gap from 20.3 percentage points to 20.2 percentage points.

At SCQF Level 6 or better, the gap has reduced from 37.4 percentage points in 2017/18 to 35.8 percentage points in 2018/19.  The proportion of school leavers attaining one pass or more at SCQF level 6 or better has decreased for both pupils in the most and least deprived areas.  The gap has narrowed because the proportion decreased by more for pupils from the least deprived areas.

Chart 4: Percentage of school leavers by attainment at SCQF Level 4 to 6, by SIMD1 quintile, 2016/17 to 2018/19

Chart 4: Percentage of school leavers by attainment at SCQF Level 4 to 6, by SIMD quintile, 2016/17 to 2018/19

pp = percentage point difference between most and least deprived quintile

1. Based on SIMD 2012 for 2015/16 and SIMD 2016 for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/SIMD.

4.4 Attainment by Pupil Characteristics

Table 6 shows school leaver attainment by pupil characteristic, such as sex and ethnicity.  It shows that females are continuing to outperform males at SCQF Levels 4 to 6 or better with the gap being wider at higher SCQF levels.

Pupils recorded as Asian-Chinese continue to have the highest level of attainment, with 91.7 per cent achieving one pass or more at SCQF Level 6 or better.  Pupils with a recorded additional support need (ASN) are less likely to achieve SCQF Levels 4 to 6 or better, than pupils without an ASN.  Pupils living in Remote Rural areas are the most likely to achieve at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 or better, whereas pupils from Accessible Rural areas are the most likely to achieve SCQF Level 6 or better.

Table 6: Percentage of school leavers by attainment at SCQF Level 4 to 6 or better, by pupil characteristic, 2017/18 and 2018/19

2017/18 2018/19
Pupil Characteristic 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
Sex            
Male 95.6 83.7 56.0 95.2 82.6 54.5
Female 96.8 88.2 68.6 96.6 87.5 66.8
Ethnicity1            
White - Scottish 96.2 85.6 61.3 95.9 84.9 59.7
White - non-Scottish 95.5 85.8 63.6 95.5 84.1 61.1
White - UK n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
White - Other n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Mixed or multiple
ethnic groups
97.7 90.3 67.6 96.7 89.5 71.8
Asian - Indian * 96.8 80.8 99.3 93.7 76.7
Asian - Pakistani 99.1 93.4 74.1 97.9 92.7 72.7
Asian - Chinese * 96.0 90.3 100.0 97.4 91.7
Asian - Other 97.0 93.2 76.7 98.1 90.6 77.1
African/ Black/ Caribbean2 96.0 90.4 73.5 97.8 91.0 70.6
All other categories3 92.4 78.8 58.3 89.3 73.9 55.3
Not Disclosed/Not known 93.7 80.6 55.5 90.8 79.5 55.3
Urban/Rural            
Large Urban Areas 95.7 85.3 62.9 95.7 85.0 62.0
Other Urban Areas 96.1 85.1 60.5 95.3 83.8 58.4
Accessible Small Towns 96.8 86.8 64.6 96.9 85.9 62.5
Remote Small Towns 95.3 84.6 58.3 95.4 84.2 57.1
Accessible Rural 97.0 88.5 65.1 96.9 87.2 62.8
Remote Rural 96.6 89.1 62.2 97.2 87.9 62.2
Additional Support Needs4            
ASN 91.0 70.4 39.5 90.7 69.8 39.3
No ASN 98.3 92.2 71.4 98.3 92.2 70.5
All Leavers 96.2 85.9 62.2 95.9 85.1 60.5

* percentages based on fewer than 5 pupils have been suppressed for disclosure and quality reasons

1. Some categories have been grouped together due to small numbers. Some categories contain between 100-200 leavers.

2. The 'African/Black/Caribbean' category includes 'African', 'African - Other', and 'Caribbean or Black' categories.

3. '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 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.

Table A1.3 in the supplementary tables shows attainment in vocational qualifications at SCQF Level 2 to 7, by local authority. These vocational qualifications include National Certificates, Higher National Qualifications, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, National Progression Awards, and Skills for Work. The table shows that 17.1 per cent of 2018/19 school leavers achieved one or more vocational qualifications at SCQF Level 5 or better. This compares to 14.8 per cent in 2017/18 and to 7.3 per cent in 2013/14.

The supplementary tables can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/ISBN/9781839605628.

The latest Developing the Young Workforce progress report is available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/developing-young-workforce-fifth-annual-progress-report-2018-19/.

4.6 Literacy and Numeracy

Literacy and numeracy are key skills for any leaver.  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.  These courses 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: 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 as well as by the removal of mandatory units from National 5s in 2017/18 and from Highers in 2018/19.  When looking at achievement in literacy and numeracy, a pass in relevant units (rather than full qualifications, for example) counts as achieving literacy or numeracy at that level.  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.  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.  Mandatory unit assessments were removed from National 5s in 2017/18 and from Highers in 2018/19. This means that it is no longer mandatory for a pupil to complete unit assessments in order to achieve National 5 and Higher qualifications.  This change is likely to have an effect on the literacy and numeracy attainment figures.

Table 7 shows the percentage of 2018/19 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, 96.1 per cent of leavers attained literacy, while 95.8 per cent of leavers attained numeracy at this level.  

93.9 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 4 or better, whilst 91.4 per cent attained numeracy skills at this level.  Similarly, 81.7 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 5 or better, whilst 68.7 per cent attained this level in numeracy.

Table 7: Leaver attainment in literacy and numeracy by SCQF Level, percentage of leavers, 2015/16 to 2018/19a

Percentage
        Literacy       Numeracy
SCQF Level 2015/16a 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2015/16a 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
 3 or better  96.5 96.5 96.3 96.1 96.1 96.3 95.8 95.8
 4 or better  94.1 94.4 94.3 93.9 89.9 90.7 90.8 91.4
 5 or better  79.0 80.8 81.6 81.7 66.9 68.8 69.1 68.7

a. As described above caution should be exercised if making comparisons over time.


Contact

Email: andrew.white@gov.scot