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 3: School Leaver Destinations

Chapter 3: School Leaver Destinations

  • 93.3 per cent of 2019/20 school leavers were in a positive initial destination (95.0 per cent for 2018/19).
  • 44.2 per cent of school leavers were in Higher Education (the highest proportion of all categories and the highest percentage since consistent records began in 2009/10).

As described in section 1.1.1, the 2019/20 figures on school leavers’ initial destinations will reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) on choices made by, and opportunities available to, pupils upon leaving school during the pandemic.

3.1 Destinations of School Leavers

Table 1 shows that 93.3 per cent of all 2019/20 school leavers were in a positive initial destination. This was lower than in 2018/19 (95.0 per cent) and the lowest since 2014/15 (93.2 per cent).

72.2 per cent of 2019/20 leavers were in Higher or Further Education. This is the highest rate since consistent records began in 2009/10.

The percentage of school leavers in Employment has decreased from 22.9 per cent for 2018/19 leavers to 16.2 per cent in 2019/20, the lowest figure on record (comparable data available from 2009/10).

The percentage of school leavers who were Unemployed has increased from 4.5 per cent for 2018/19 to 6.0 per cent for 2019/20 leavers.

Table 1: Percentage of school leavers by initial destination category, 2014/15 to 2019/20
Column Percent (percentages may not total 100 due to rounding)
Destination Category 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Higher Education 38.8 40.3 40.7 41.1 40.3 44.2
Further Education 27.6 26.6 26.8 26.5 27.3 28.1
Training 3.6 2.3 2.2 1.9 3.5 3.7
Employment 21.4 22.3 22.0 22.7 22.9 16.2
Voluntary Work 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.7 0.6 0.5
Activity Agreement1 0.9 1.0 1.2 1.2 n/a n/a
Personal Skills Development 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.8
Positive Destinations 93.2 93.5 93.9 94.6 95.0 93.3
Unemployed seeking 5.3 5.0 4.4 3.7 3.1 4.1
Unemployed Not Seeking 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.8
Unknown2 0.5 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.7
Other Destinations 6.8 6.5 6.1 5.4 5.0 6.7
Number of Leavers 52,491 52,305 51,300 49,748 49,760 47,454

1. From 2018/19, support previously recorded as Activity Agreements is recorded in the Training category. As a result, the proportion of school leavers recorded in the Training category is not directly comparable prior to and post 2018/19. For more information see section 7.3.2.

2. The 'Unknown' status in 2019/20 may be affected by local partnerships' ability to track school leavers through home visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3.2 Destinations by Stage

The initial destinations of 2019/20 school leavers by stage of leaving (Chart 2) show:

  • the majority of S6 leavers entered Higher Education (64.5 per cent);
  • the most common initial destination for S5 leavers was Further Education (42.8 per cent) followed by Employment (24.1 per cent);
  • the majority of S4 leavers entered Further Education (57.0 per cent).
Chart 2: Initial destinations of school leavers by stage of leaving, 2019/20

1. ‘Other positive’ includes Personal Skills Development, Training and Voluntary Work.

2. ‘Other destination’ includes Unemployed seeking, Unemployed not seeking and Unknown.

3.3 Destinations by Deprivation

Chart 3 shows that the percentage of school leavers in a positive initial destination has decreased in 2019/20, for leavers from both the (20%) most deprived and (20%) least deprived areas, based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). The proportion of school leavers in a positive initial destination has fallen by more amongst leavers from the most deprived areas than it has amongst those from the least deprived areas which has led to an increase in the deprivation gap, from 5.4 percentage points in 2018/19 to 6.3 percentage points in 2019/20.

Section 3.1 showed that the proportion of all school leavers entering Higher Education increased between 2018/19 and 2019/20, while the proportion entering Employment decreased to a record low. Time series data of destinations by deprivation (available in Table 2 in the supplementary tables) shows that the proportion entering Higher Education increased amongst all SIMD groups but by least among those from the most deprived areas. Leavers from each SIMD group saw a decrease in the proportion entering Employment with there being no clear pattern by deprivation.

Table 2 provides a breakdown of initial school leaver destinations by SIMD for 2019/20. It shows, for example, that pupils from the most deprived areas continue to be less likely to enter Higher Education than those from the least deprived areas.

In 2019/20, the most common destination for leavers from the most deprived areas was Further Education at 37.5 per cent.

In 2019/20, 9.1 per cent of leavers from the most deprived areas were unemployed, compared to 3.4 per cent of leavers from the least deprived areas.

Chart 3. Percentage of school leavers in a positive initial destination, by SIMD 1, 2009/10 to 2019/20

pp = percentage point difference between most and least deprived SIMD quintile

1. Based on SIMD 2009 for 2009/10 and 2010/11, SIMD 2012 for 2011/12 to 2015/16 and SIMD 2016 for 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20. More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2016 (SIMD 2016) can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-index-multiple-deprivation-2016/.

Table 2: Percentage of school leavers by initial destination category by SIMD 1, 2019/20
Column Percent (percentages may not total 100 due to rounding)
2019/20 Initial Destination 0-20% (Most Deprived) 20-40% 40-60% 60-80% 80-100% (Least Deprived) Percentage point gap2 Total
Higher Education 28.2 34.8 44.0 51.5 64.1 35.8 44.2
Further Education 37.5 33.4 27.7 23.8 16.9 -20.6 28.1
Training 7.2 4.6 2.9 2.0 1.2 -6.0 3.7
Employment 14.9 17.6 18.5 16.9 13.4 -1.5 16.2
Voluntary Work 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.1 0.5
Personal Skills
Development
1.8 0.8 0.5 0.5 0.3 -1.5 0.8
Positive Destinations 90.0 91.6 94.1 95.1 96.3 6.3 93.3
Unemployed seeking 6.3 5.3 3.6 2.9 2.3 -4.0 4.1
Unemployed Not Seeking 2.7 2.1 1.6 1.5 1.1 -1.6 1.8
Unknown 1.0 0.9 0.7 0.5 0.3 -0.7 0.7
Other Destinations 10.0 8.4 5.9 4.9 3.7 -6.3 6.7
Number of Leavers 10,463 9,176 9,047 9,480 9,288 47,454

1. Based on SIMD 2016. More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2016 can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-index-multiple-deprivation-2016/.

2. The percentage point gap measures the difference between the most and least deprived pupils.

3.4 Destinations by Pupil Characteristics

Table 3 shows the percentage of school leavers who entered a positive initial destination by various characteristics.

The percentage of 2019/20 school leavers in positive initial destinations has decreased for most groups, compared to 2018/19.

School leavers in 2019/20 with an Additional Support Need (ASN) were less likely to go on to a positive initial destination, compared to leavers without a recorded ASN (89.6 per cent compared to 95.4 per cent). These statistics relate to leavers from mainstream schools only. Similar statistics relating to destinations of secondary and special school leavers combined are available in Supplementary Table L3.1.

Pupils of an Asian ethnic background tend to be more likely to go on to a positive initial destination. Rates for most ethnic groups in a positive destination for 2019/20 have decreased compared to 2018/19.

Females continue to be more likely to enter positive destinations than males; 94.6 per cent of females and 92.1 per cent of males entered a positive destination.

Other Urban areas had the lowest proportion of leavers in positive destinations (92.7 per cent), compared to Accessible Rural areas which had the highest (94.7 per cent).

More information on destinations by pupil characteristics is available in the supplementary tables found in the supporting files here: https://www.gov.scot/ISBN/978-1-80004-680-1

Table 3: Percentage of school leavers in a positive initial destination, by pupil characteristic, 2014/15 to 2019/20
Pupil Characteristic 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Sex Male 92.0 92.6 92.9 93.5 94.2 92.1
Female 94.3 94.4 94.9 95.6 95.9 94.6
Ethnicity1 White - Scottish 93.2 93.4 93.7 94.4 94.9 93.2
White - non-Scottish 92.2 94.0 94.7 95.1 95.8 93.3
Mixed or multiple ethnic groups 93.4 92.8 94.9 95.5 93.8 92.3
Asian - Indian * * * 97.2 97.2 *
Asian - Pakistani 94.8 93.6 96.5 95.8 97.1 97.2
Asian - Chinese * * * 98.0 * *
Asian - Other 94.7 95.9 96.4 97.0 * 95.0
African/ Black/ Caribbean2 92.6 93.8 95.3 96.9 96.4 94.7
All other categories3 89.4 93.1 93.7 91.7 93.7 93.4
Not Disclosed/Not known 93.3 92.3 92.7 91.5 92.8 91.2
Urban/Rural Large Urban Areas 92.1 92.4 93.0 93.6 95.0 93.1
Other Urban Areas 93.2 93.8 93.4 94.4 94.5 92.7
Accessible Small Towns 93.9 94.1 94.5 94.8 95.7 94.2
Remote Small Towns 94.3 94.6 94.7 95.0 94.9 92.9
Accessible Rural 94.0 94.2 95.5 95.9 96.1 94.7
Remote Rural 95.1 94.7 96.0 96.7 95.8 94.5
Additional Support Needs4
ASN 88.7 89.1 89.8 90.9 91.9 89.6
No ASN 94.3 94.8 95.3 96.0 96.5 95.4
All Leavers 93.2 93.5 93.9 94.6 95.0 93.3

1. Some categories have been grouped together due to small numbers. Some categories (typically ‘Asian – Indian’, ‘Asian – Chinese’ contain between 100-200 leavers and due to relatively small numbers may be subject to fluctuation. Comparisons between groups should take this into account.

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

3. 'All other categories' includes 'Other - other' and 'Other - Arab'.

4. Pupils who have a Coordinated Support Plan (CSP), Individualised Educational Programme (IEP) or Child’s Plan are assessed or declared disabled or have another need.


Contact

Email: andrew.white@gov.scot