Publication - Statistics

Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations, No. 3: 2021 Edition

Published: 23 Feb 2021

This statistical publication provides information on the educational attainment and initial destinations of 2019/20 school leavers from publicly funded schools in Scotland

Summary Statistics for Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations, No. 3: 2021 Edition
Chapter 2: School Leaver Cohort

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)[2]. 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.

Chart 1: Percentage of leavers by stage of leaving, 2009/10 to 2019/20

Contact

Email: andrew.white@gov.scot