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.

35 page PDF

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35 page PDF

1.1 MB

Contents
Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations, No. 2: 2020 Edition
Chapter 7: Background notes

35 page PDF

1.1 MB

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

7.2.1 Attainment

Source and Quality Assurance

Data on National Qualifications are provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) using data from the live SQA Awards Processing System (APS).

SQA provide two extracts of data to the Scottish Government; one in August (pre-review data) and one in December (post-review data, used in this publication). 

The August data extract includes records with a result date between the 1st August of the previous year and the 31st July of the current year (where a candidate has been entered, has a final result or has been certificated), SCQF credit information, SCQF points, SCQF levels and qualification types (where available) and excludes records on qualification types that are out of scope.

The data extract is merged with school roll data provided by the Scottish Government (Scottish Candidate Number (SCN), centre number and stage information); data is retained where there is a match by SCN on the SQA data extract and the school roll data. This ensures SQA only provide records for which Scottish Government have legitimate interest to process.  

The December data extract is formed of the August data extract, updated with information from the Post-results Service (clerical check or marking review). The December extract contains records provided in the August attainment data transfer which match with the SQA APS on SCN and product code. Any records that were present in the August extract, but are no longer present in SQA APS will not feature in the December extract, this will typically be due to course withdrawals/changes.

Methodology

This publication concentrates on National Qualifications (e.g. National 5, Highers, etc.).

Attainment data includes qualifications achieved throughout all stages of a pupil’s schooling.  Qualifications data from SQA are available on a consistent basis from 2005/06, meaning any attainment for earlier leaver cohorts (e.g. those who left in 2009/10) which pre-dates 2005/06 (i.e. in early stages of secondary school) may be missing.  

The attainment data are based on the result date of learners' qualifications.  In some cases, this may lead to attainment being reported in a different academic year to that 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 included. 

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.  

If a pupil attains a D at a certain level this is not counted as achieving that level.  Instead it 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. 

Foundation Apprenticeships

Foundation Apprenticeships have been designed and developed with industry and SQA, and are aligned to key sectors of the economy with current skills shortages and projected future jobs growth.  They provide work-based learning opportunities with industry recognised qualifications in the senior phase of secondary education https://www.apprenticeships.scot/become-an-apprentice/foundation-apprenticeships/

This publication focuses on National Qualifications and, as such, Foundation Apprenticeships are not currently included in the suite of attainment measures within the report. SDS will publish annual statistical information within the Foundation Apprenticeship Progress Report 2020.

Curriculum

School leavers from 2018/19 are the fourth cohort to have experienced the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) throughout the senior phase of their school education.  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 section 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 Table A1.3.  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 literacy or numeracy attainment if they have passed units from the list below.

SCQF Level

Literacy

Numeracy

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

7.2.2 Destinations

Source and Quality Assurance

School leaver destination data is sourced from the Opportunities for All shared dataset which is managed and hosted by SDS on behalf of partners.  The data is held on the SDS operational Customer Support System (CSS).  This data set contains information shared by local authorities, colleges, Scottish Funding Council, Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) via a secure online portal known as the 16+ Data Hub.  The data to be shared is documented within the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013 and there are a series of business rules governing the processing of this data.

Data that has been shared by partners is combined with information gathered directly from young people, their parents/carers or their representatives by SDS staff delivering services to individuals, including transitional support to school leavers.  SDS has at least one named adviser for each school in Scotland who work directly with pupils and school staff to support the transition of young people from school.  As this combined data is primarily used for operational purposes the quality is continually monitored to ensure SDS, local authorities and colleges can monitor and plan for a young person’s involvement in education, training or employment and identify those young people who require advice or support.  

SDS has developed guidance documents for their staff which set out the specific activities and processes involved in identifying, engaging with and confirming the status of SDS customers.  This information includes definitions of the available statuses on CSS and step by step recording guidance.  SDS staff have access to specific reports for data quality and more specifically to support the school leaver destination process.  These reports will identify school leavers and provide details of their destinations including the source of the information and the date the information was validated. 

Prior to destination data being shared with the Scottish Government, final quality checks are carried out centrally by the Corporate Planning and Performance Reporting team within SDS.  These include a review of statuses to ensure the reported destination reflects the available detail e.g. course details and course levels are correctly reported as higher or further education.  In addition, final checks of shared data are made to ensure destinations are consistent with data sources e.g. matching information about modern or graduate apprentices.

Methodology

A pupil is counted as a school leaver if they have a leaver record on the Opportunities for All shared data set, a pupil census record for the same academic year, and no pupil census record in the following academic year.  

The initial destinations data in this publication provide information on the outcomes for young people approximately three months after the end of the academic year (1st Monday in October) while the follow-up publication provides information on the outcomes of young people approximately nine months after the end of the academic year (1st Monday in April).  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.  

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 tables L3.1, A1.3, A3.1 and A3.2 in the supplementary tables.  A full list of the supplementary tables is available at background note 7.8.

7.2.3 Attainment and destinations data matching

The school leaver destinations data is matched to the pupil census and to SQA data 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.  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 are 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 category of the pupil’s school is used. 

7.3 Definitions & Symbols

7.3.1 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/carers 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, Personal Skills Development and (between 2010/11 and 2017/18) 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.

From 2018/19 this category includes school leavers receiving support that would previously have been recorded as ‘Activity Agreements’. This means that the proportion of 2018/19 school leavers with a destination category of Training cannot be directly compared to the proportion recorded for previous years.  Further information can be found in the Activity Agreements definition below.

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.

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 programmes run by community learning and development or third sector organisations. 

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. 

The way in which school leavers undertaking Personal Skills Development are counted in these statistics has changed.  Further information can be found in section 6.1.

Activity Agreements: prior to 2018/19 this included those for whom there was an agreement between a young person and an advisor that the young person would take part in a programme of learning and activity which helped them become ready for formal learning or employment. 

The integration of funding streams as part of the ongoing implementation of No One Left Behind[2] 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 using this category.  Instead they are recorded in the Training category for 2018/19.  Note that data for earlier years continues to include the Activity Agreements category reflecting the support that was available at the time.

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. 

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.  

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.

7.3.2 Symbols

The following symbols are used:

- = nil

* = suppressed

7.4 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).

7.5 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.  Although this publication focusses on attainment in the National Qualifications, 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-fifth-annual-progress-report-2018-19/ .

7.6 UK comparisons

7.6.1 Attainment

Scotland has a different set of qualifications to the rest of the UK and comparisons cannot be made directly.  Scotland, and the other UK countries, participate in the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) survey on education performance.

7.6.2 Destinations

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.

7.7 List of supplementary tables

Supplementary tables on attainment and leaver destinations are available at http://www.gov.scot/ISBN/9781839605628 

These tables on attainment and school leaver initial destinations include 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.

School Leaver Destinations

  • C1.1: Number and percentage of initial school leavers by stage of leaving, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table L1.1. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded schools in Scotland by initial destination category: 1992/93 to 2018/19
  • Table L1.2. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and gender, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • 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, 2018/19
  • Table L1.4. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and ethnic background, 2018/19
  • Table L1.5. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and national identity, 2018/19
  • Table L1.6. Percentage of school leavers from publicly funded secondary schools in Scotland by initial destination category and whether declared or assessed disabled, 2018/19
  • Table L2.1. Percentage of school leavers by initial destination and local authority, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table L2.2. Number of school leavers by initial destination and local authority, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table L3.1. Percentage of secondary and special school leavers from publicly funded schools in Scotland by initial destination and Additional Support Need, 2018/19

Attainment Statistics

  • Table A1.1. Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved, by SIMD quintile, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table A1.1b. Percentage of school leavers by total qualifications achieved, by SIMD quintile, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table A1.2. Attainment of secondary school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved in each subject, 2011/12 to 2018/19
  • 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 2018/19
  • Table A1.4. School leavers with no passes at SCQF Level 3 or better, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table A2.1. Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved, by local authority, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table A2.2. Percentage of school leavers by total qualifications achieved, by local authority, 2009/10 to 2018/19
  • Table A2.3. Percentage of school leavers by total qualifications achieved, by local authority and SIMD, 2012/13 to 2018/19
  • 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
  • Table A3.2. Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF Level achieved, by local authority, 2009/10 to 2018/19

7.8 Cost

7.8.1 Attainment

There is no additional cost to SQA to supply the attainment data. 

7.8.2 Leavers

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.

7.9 Further information

Copies of this publication are available on the Scottish Government's website at: http://www.gov.scot/ISBN/9781839605628 

School level information, including attainment on a consistent basis is available through Insight (a professional benchmarking tool used by local authorities and schools) and published on the School Information Dashboard: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/Dashboards .

The scope of these 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 from the Scottish Government labour market statistics 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 Young people’s participation national indicator within the National Performance Framework.  The indicator measures the percentage of young adults (16-19 year olds) participating in education, training or employment.'  Latest results were published in August 2019 and are available here: https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/publications-statistics/statistics/participation-measure.  

The Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels 2018/19 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 2018/19 were published in December 2019 and are available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/achievement-curriculum-excellence-cfe-levels-2018-19/pages/1/ 

Scotland participates in the OECD’s triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey.  This assessment is undertaken by 15 year-olds in almost eighty countries, including all OECD countries, and as such is a key international benchmark of performance.  The results of previous PISA surveys are available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/programme-international-student-assessment-pisa-2018-highlights-scotlands-results/.  

Skills Development Scotland publish Foundation Apprenticeship Progress Reports on an annual basis. These include data on the number of young people undertaking Foundation Apprenticeships in Scotland.  The latest report can be found at https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/media/45251/fa-progress-report.pdf and the next report will be published in Spring 2020. 

The table below provides summary information for some of the key sources of data on attainment and the activity of young people in Scotland.

Source

Organisation, date of next publication, web link

Key points

This Publication

Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations

Scottish Government, February 2020, www.gov.scot

Provides information on the attainment of school leavers and on the activities being undertaken by school leavers 3 months after leaving school.

Coverage: School leavers

Summary Statistics for Follow-up Leaver Destinations

Scottish Government, June 2020, www.gov.scot

Provides information on the activities being undertaken by school leavers 9 months after leaving school.

Coverage: School leavers

Annual Participation Measure 

Skills Development Scotland, August 2020, https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk 

Reports on the economic and employment activity of the wider 16-19 year old cohort, including those at school.

Coverage: All 16-19 year olds

Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels

Scottish Government, December, www.gov.scot

Provides information on national performance of P1, P4, P7 and S3 school pupils. Reports on the percentage of pupils who have achieved the expected Curriculum for Excellence level in these organisers.

Coverage: All P1, P4, P7 and S3 school pupils.

SQA Attainment Statistics 

Scottish Qualifications Authority, August 2020, https://www.sqa.org.uk

Attainment Statistics for every course and qualification in a given year. 

Coverage: all SQA attainment, not just that of school leavers (and covering those attaining SQA qualifications in non-school settings such as Further Education)

Media enquiries about the information in this Statistics Publication Notice should be addressed to Michael Berry 0131 244 2967.


Contact

Email: andrew.white@gov.scot