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

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

Chapter 6: Changes in this report and planned future changes

6.1 Personal Skills Development

The way in which school leavers undertaking Personal Skills Development activity are counted in these statistics has changed.

In previous publications, young people participating in Personal Skills Development (PSD) were individually mapped to destination categories; this mapping was carried out by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Scottish Government analysts based on details of the PSD activity recorded on the SDS Customer Support System (CSS).  Depending on the evidence, a leaver could be mapped to a positive destination or an unemployed seeking or unemployed not seeking destination.

This meant that school leavers from special units within mainstream schools, specifically those with severe and complex needs, participating in PSD were not always being classified as in a “positive destination”.  In light of user feedback, we undertook to consider the categorisation of school leavers in PSD.

A consultation sought users’ views on a proposal to record all school leavers undertaking Personal Skills Development in a new standalone Personal Skills Development category, which would be a positive destination.

The consultation ran during October 2019.  It was published on the Scottish Government website and promoted to known users.  It received 31 responses and all respondents indicated that they were in agreement with the proposal to count all school leavers undertaking Personal Skills Development as being in a positive destination.  The results of the consultation can be found here:

The manual mapping exercise described above is resource intensive and so has not been repeated for 2018/19.  As a result it is not possible to measure the impact of this change on the 2018/19 data. However, based on historic data we estimate that the proportion of school leavers counted as being in a positive destination has increased by around 0.2 percentage points each year, as a result of the change.  The proportion in unemployed destinations is estimated to have fallen by an equivalent amount, and there are other associated small changes to individual sub-categories. 

Historic data back to 2009/10 have been revised to allow comparison over time on a consistent basis.

6.2 Activity Agreements

Activity Agreements were ‘agreements between a young person and an advisor that the young person will take part in a programme of learning and activity which helps them to become ready for formal learning or employment’.

Since 2010/11 a separate ‘Activity Agreement’ category has been included in school leaver destination statistics and counted as a positive destination.

The integration of funding streams, as part of the ongoing implementation of No One Left Behind[1], means that although local authorities will provide the same type of support and opportunities for young people, this activity will no longer be funded under the banner of ‘Activity Agreements’.  This means it is no longer appropriate to record school leavers receiving this support under this category.  Instead, school leavers receiving this support who left during or at the end of the 2018/19 academic year are recorded in the Training category.  Note that data for earlier years continues to include the Activity Agreements category reflecting the support and funding streams available at the time.  This means that the proportion of school leavers recorded in the Training category in 2018/19 is not directly comparable with the proportion recorded in this category in previous years.  

6.3 Reporting schedule

The reporting schedule of school leaver attainment and destination statistics changed in 2019 to better meet user needs.  This is the second edition of ‘Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations’.  In June 2020 the second edition of ‘Summary Statistics for Follow-up Leaver Destinations’ will be published.  These publications report on all school leavers. In previous years all of these statistics were published in June in ‘Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living’.  These changes reflect the results from the user consultation which was conducted in September 2017. 

6.4 Planned future changes

The Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland are currently investigating methods to develop a new measure of long-term outcomes for school leavers using the Annual Participation Measure (APM) methodology.  We will consult with stakeholders on this in due course, and, if feasible, the intention is that it will replace the existing school leaver follow-up destination measure.  For further information about the Annual Participation Measure produced by Skills Development Scotland, see background note 7.10.



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