Chapter 2: School Leaver Cohort
- 47,454 pupils left school in 2019/20 – the smallest school leaver cohort since consistent records began in 2009/10
- 62.8 per cent of the 2019/20 school leaver cohort were in S6, up from 61.2 per cent in 2018/19.
- 25.8 per cent were S5 leavers (down from 26.8 per cent in 2018/19) and 11.4 per cent were in S4 (down from 11.9 per cent).
The school leaver cohort comprised 47,454 pupils in 2019/20. This is fewer than the 49,760 school leavers in 2018/19 and is the smallest school leaver cohort since consistent records began in 2009/10.
The school leaver cohort tended to be larger between 2009/10 and 2016/17, generally fluctuating between around 51,000 and 53,000. The exception to this was 2011/12 (49,745 pupils). It has generally fallen in recent years (since 2014/15) with the latest decrease in 2019/20 representing the biggest decrease since 2011/12.
The reduction in the number of school leavers in 2019/20 does not appear to correspond to a reduction in the associated number of senior phase pupils recorded in school rolls at the beginning of the school year (see Pupil Census supplementary table 3.3). It is possible that some S4 and S5 pupils who might have otherwise left school in 2019/20 have decided instead to stay at school for reasons related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Chart 1 shows the percentage of school leavers by stage, between 2009/10 and 2019/20. It shows that over three-fifths (62.8 per cent) of 2019/20 school leavers left in S6, up from 61.2 per cent in 2018/19. Around a quarter (25.8 per cent) of 2019/20 school leavers left in S5, and 11.4% left in S4. Around 0.1 per cent left in S3 or another stage in 2019/20.
Looking over a longer time period, the proportion of pupils leaving in S6 increased between 2009/10 and 2014/15, whilst there was a corresponding decrease in the proportions leaving in S4 and S5. From 2014/15 to 2018/19, the figures were more stable, although there was a gradual decline in the proportion leaving in S6, and small increases in S4 and S5 over the same period.
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