Information

Summary Statistics for Follow-up Leaver Destinations, No. 4: 2022 Edition

This statistical publication provides information on the follow-up destinations of 2020/21 school leavers from publicly funded schools in Scotland

This document is part of a collection


Chapter 2: School leaver follow-up destinations

  • 93.2 per cent of 2020/21 school leavers were in a positive follow-up destination (an increase from 92.2 per cent in 2019/20).
  • 40.3 per cent of school leavers were in Higher Education (the most common follow-up destination).
  • 31.5 per cent of school leavers were in Employment (the highest proportion since consistent records began in 2009/10).
  • The percentage of school leavers in a positive follow-up destination increased in 2020/21 for leavers from both the (20%) most deprived and (20%) least deprived areas compared to 2019/20.
  • The gap between the two groups decreased from 8.3 percentage points in 2019/20 to 7.5 percentage points in 2020/21 – the lowest it has been since consistent records began in 2009/10.

As described in section 1.1, the 2019/20 and 2020/21 figures on school leavers’ follow-up destinations will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The pandemic will have affected the choices made by, and opportunities available to, leavers in these years.

Particular care should therefore be taken when interpreting changes between 2019/20, 2020/21, and other years. The pandemic will have been at least partly responsible for the relatively low proportion of 2019/20 school leavers in a positive follow-up destination compared to other recent years.

2.1 Destinations

Table 1 shows that 93.2 per cent of all 2020/21 school leavers were in a positive follow-up destination. This was higher than for 2019/20 leavers (92.2 per cent), and just below the highest value seen since consistent records began in 2009/10 (93.3 per cent, in 2017/18).

Table 1 also shows that 40.3 per cent of 2020/21 leavers were in Higher Education – the most common follow-up destination. This was lower than for 2019/20 leavers (42.9 per cent) but higher than for all previous years (2009/10 to 2018/19).

The percentage of school leavers in Further Education decreased from 23.6 per cent of leavers in 2019/20 to 18.3 per cent of leavers in 2020/21. This is the lowest value since 2009/10. The same pattern was seen in the initial destinations of 2020/21 school leavers.

The percentage of school leavers in Employment has increased substantially in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20. This follows a large drop between 2018/19 and 2019/20, likely reflecting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). It increased from 21.3 per cent of 2019/20 leavers (a record low since 2009/10) to 31.5 per cent in 2020/21 – a record high.

The percentage of school leavers who were Unemployed (Unemployed Seeking or Unemployed Not Seeking) has decreased from 6.8 per cent of 2019/20 leavers to 5.7 per cent of 2020/21 leavers.

Table 1: Percentage of school leavers by follow-up destination category, 2015/16 to 2020/21 [note 1][note 2][note 3]
Destination 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
Higher Education 37.3 38.3 39.0 38.4 42.9 40.3
Further Education 22.4 23.0 22.6 23.3 23.6 18.3
Training 1.5 1.5 1.6 2.3 3.2 2.3
Employment 28.7 28.3 28.3 28.0 21.3 31.5
Voluntary Work 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.3 0.4
Activity Agreement 0.9 1.0 0.9 [z] [z] [z]
Personal Skills Development 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.4 0.8 0.4
Positive Destinations 91.6 93.1 93.3 92.9 92.2 93.2
Unemployed Seeking 5.7 4.3 3.8 3.5 4.1 3.3
Unemployed Not Seeking 1.8 1.8 1.8 2.3 2.7 2.4
Unknown 0.9 0.7 1.1 1.3 1.0 1.0
Other Destinations 8.4 6.9 6.7 7.1 7.8 6.8
Number of Leavers 52,113 51,172 49,650 49,655 47,351 50,649

Note 1: For 2018/19 onwards, support previously recorded as Activity Agreements is recorded in the Training category. For more information see section 4.6.

Note 2: Data back to 2009/10 is available in the supplementary tables.

Note 3: The 'Unknown' status in 2018/19 and 2019/20 may be affected by local partnerships' ability to track school leavers through home visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2.2 Destinations by stage

The follow-up destinations of 2020/21 school leavers by stage of leaving (Chart 1) shows:

  • the majority of S6 leavers were in Higher Education (58.9 per cent);
  • the most common follow-up destination for S5 leavers was Employment (45.9 per cent) followed by Further Education (27.0 per cent);
  • the most common destination for S4 leavers was Employment (39.4 per cent) followed by Further Education (36.1 per cent).

In previous years, the most common follow-up destination for S4 leavers has been Further Education. In 2020/21 this has changed to Employment.

Chart 1. Follow-up destination of leavers by stage of leaving, 2020/21 [note 4][note 5][note 6]
The most common follow-up destination for S6 leavers in 2020/21 was Higher Education. 58.9 per cent of S6 leavers were in Higher Education, nine months after the end of the school year. The most common follow-up destination for S5 leavers was Employment. 45.9 per cent of S5 leavers were in Employment, nine months after the end of the school year. The most common follow-up destination for S4 leavers was also Employment. 39.4 per cent of S4 leavers were in Employment, nine months after the end of the school year. A further 36.1 of S4 leavers were in Further Education.

Note 4: Other positive includes Personal Skills Development, Training and Voluntary Work.

Note 5: Other destinations include Unemployed Seeking, Unemployed Not Seeking and Unknown.

Note 6: A small percentage of school leavers left in other stages not shown in this graph. For more information, see the supplementary tables. A list of these tables is available in section 4.11.

A breakdown of the number of school leavers by stage is available in Tables C1.1a & C1.1b of the supplementary tables. The 2020/21 follow-up leaver cohort was larger than the 2019/20 follow-up leaver cohort (50,649 in 2020/21, up from 47,351 in 2019/20) and had a larger proportion of S6 leavers (63.2 per cent, up from 62.8 per cent). This may have been caused by some S4 and S5 pupils who might typically have left in 2019/20 choosing to stay in school for an extra year, possibly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information is available in section 1.1.

A small number of school leavers identified in the initial leaver cohort are excluded from the follow-up leaver cohort. Further information is available in section 4.4.

2.3 Destinations by deprivation

Chart 2 shows that the percentage of 2020/21 school leavers in a positive follow-up destination has increased compared to 2019/20, for leavers from both the most deprivedand least deprived areas (assessed using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)– more information in section 4.5).

The deprivation gap between the two groups has reduced from 8.3 percentage points in 2019/20 to 7.5 percentage points in 2020/21. The percentage of leavers in a positive follow-up destination increased more among leavers from the most deprived areas (a 1.4 percentage point increase between 2019/20 and 2020/21) than among those from the least deprived areas (a 0.6 percentage point increase).

The deprivation gap between leavers from the most and least deprived areas is now the smallest it has been since consistent records began in 2009/10.

Chart 2. Percentage of school leavers in a positive follow-up destination, by SIMD, 2009/10 to 2020/21 [note 7][note 8]
The proportions of leavers from the 20% most deprived and 20% least deprived areas who are in a positive follow-up destination - and the gap between the two groups - has changed over time. The proportion of school leavers from the 20% most deprived areas who were in a positive follow-up destination increased from 87.6 per cent in 2019/20 to 89.0 per cent in 2020/21. The proportion of leavers from the 20% least deprived areas who were in a positive follow-up destination also increased, from 95.9 per cent in 2019/20 to 96.5 per cent in 2020/21. The deprivation gap between the two groups of leavers has narrowed, from 8.3 percentage points in 2019/20 to 7.5 percentage points in 2020/21 - which is the smallest gap on record.

Note 7: pp = percentage point difference between most and least deprived SIMD quintiles.

Note 8: Based on SIMD 2009 for 2009/10 and 2010/11, SIMD 2012 for 2011/12 to 2015/16, SIMD 2016 for 2016/17 to 2019/20, and SIMD 2020 for 2020/21. More information can be found on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2020 webpage.

Table 2 provides a breakdown of follow-up school leaver destinations by SIMD.

In 2020/21, the most common follow-up destination for leavers from the least deprived areas was Higher Education, at 59.7 per cent. Leavers from the least deprived areas were more likely to be in Higher Education than leavers from other areas.

The most common destination for leavers from the most deprived areas was Employment, at 31.9 per cent. Leavers from the most deprived areas were more likely to be in Further Education, Training or Personal Skills Development than leavers from other areas.

Among leavers from the most deprived areas, 9.7 per cent were Unemployed (Unemployed Seeking and Unemployed Not Seeking). This compares to 2.8 per cent of leavers from the least deprived areas.

Table 2: Percentage of school leavers by follow-up destination category by SIMD, 2020/21 [note 9][note 10]
Follow-up Destination 0-20% (Most Deprived) 20-40% 40-60% 60-80% 80-100% (Least Deprived) Percentage point gap Total
Higher Education 25.3 32.0 38.9 47.0 59.7 34.4 40.3
Further Education 26.4 21.7 17.6 14.8 10.3 -16.0 18.3
Training 4.4 3.0 1.9 1.4 0.8 -3.6 2.3
Employment 31.9 33.8 35.3 31.6 25.2 -6.7 31.5
Voluntary Work 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.0 0.4
Personal Skills Development 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.2 -0.5 0.4
Positive Destinations 89.0 91.4 94.3 95.4 96.5 7.5 93.2
Unemployed Seeking 5.8 4.4 2.8 1.9 1.5 -4.3 3.3
Unemployed Not Seeking 3.9 3.0 1.9 1.8 1.3 -2.6 2.4
Unknown 1.3 1.2 1.0 0.9 0.7 -0.7 1.0
Other Destinations 11.0 8.6 5.7 4.6 3.5 -7.5 6.8
Number of Leavers 10,894 9,862 9,729 10,295 9,869 50,649

Note 9: Based on SIMD 2020. More information can be found on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2020 webpage.

Note 10: The percentage point gap measures the difference between leavers from the 20% most deprived and 20% least deprived areas.

The time series of destinations by SIMD (available in the supplementary tables) can be used to help understand what has caused the gap in total positive destinations between school leavers from the most and least deprived areas to narrow between 2019/20 and 2020/21.

The proportion of school leavers who were in Employment increased across all SIMD groups between 2019/20 and 2020/21. However, the increase was greater amongst leavers from the 20% most deprived areas than amongst leavers from the 20% least deprived areas. Among leavers from the most deprived areas, it rose from 20.5 per cent in Employment in 2019/20 to 31.9 per cent in 2020/21, an increase of 11.4 percentage points. Among leavers from the least deprived areas, it rose from 17.4 per cent to 25.2 per cent, an increase of 7.8 percentage points.

The proportion of school leavers in Higher Education decreased amongst leavers from all SIMD groups between 2019/20 and 2020/21. However the size of this decrease was greater amongst those in the least deprived areas than it was amongst those in the most deprived areas. Among leavers from the least deprived areas, it fell from 62.6 per cent in Higher Education in 2019/20 to 59.7 per cent in 2020/21, a decrease of 2.9 percentage points. Among leavers from the most deprived areas, it fell from 27.0 per cent to 25.3 per cent, a decrease of 1.7 percentage points.

Together these changes help to explain why the percentage of leavers in all positive destinations increased more amongst leavers from the most deprived areas than the least deprived areas, which has led to the gap between the two groups narrowing.

The pattern observed in Further Education was different. The proportion of school leavers in Further Education decreased amongst all SIMD quintiles between 2019/20 and 2020/21. But the decrease was greater amongst those from the most deprived areas than it was amongst those from the least deprived areas.

A full list of the supplementary tables is available in section 4.11.

2.4 Destinations by pupil characteristics

Table 3 shows the percentage of school leavers in a positive follow-up destination by various characteristics. The percentage of 2020/21 school leavers in positive follow-up destinations has increased for most groups, compared to 2019/20.

Females are more likely to be in a positive follow-up destination than males. For 2020/21 leavers, 93.8 per cent of female leavers were in a positive follow-up destination, compared to 92.6 per cent of males. This is the same pattern seen in previous years. However the percentage of leavers in a positive destination increased more between 2019/20 and 2020/21 for males than for females.

Pupils of an Asian ethnic background, or an African/Black/Caribbean ethnic background, tend to be more likely to go on to a positive follow-up destination than those from other ethnic backgrounds. In 2020/21, 96.6 per cent of leavers from an African/Black/Caribbean ethnic background, and 95.5 per cent of leavers from an Asian – Pakistani and Asian – Other ethnic background were in a positive destination. Compared to 2019/20, the percentage in a positive follow-up destination increased across leavers from most ethnic groups, but not all. It decreased slightly among leavers from some minority ethnic groups, including Asian – Pakistani and ‘All Other Categories’. However, the total numbers of leavers in these categories (in particular ‘All Other Categories’) are relatively small, which can lead to the percentage in a positive destination fluctuating year-on-year.

In 2020/21, Other Urban Areas had the lowest proportion of leavers in positive destinations (92.3 per cent). Remote Rural areas continued to have the highest (95.4 per cent). Leavers from Remote Small Towns saw the biggest increase in leavers in a positive follow-up destination compared to 2019/20.

School leavers in 2020/21 with an Additional Support Need (ASN) were less likely to go on to a positive follow-up destination than leavers without a recorded ASN (89.2 per cent compared to 95.5 per cent). This is the same pattern as seen in previous years. However the percentage of leavers in a positive destination increased more between 2019/20 and 2020/21 for leavers with an ASN than for those without.

More information on destinations by pupil characteristics is available in the supplementary tables. A list of these tables is available in section 4.11.

Table 3: Percentage of school leavers in a positive follow-up destination, by pupil characteristic, 2015/16 to 2020/21 [note 11][note 12][note 13]
Pupil Characteristic 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
Sex
Male 90.9 92.4 92.4 92.1 90.9 92.6
Female 92.3 94.0 94.3 93.7 93.6 93.8
Ethnicity
White - Scottish 91.5 93.0 93.2 92.7 92.0 93.1
White - non-Scottish 92.8 93.9 94.2 93.5 92.3 93.2
Mixed or multiple ethnic groups 93.0 92.7 93.6 92.8 91.7 94.7
Asian - Indian 96.9 [c] 97.2 94.4 95.4 [c]
Asian - Pakistani 92.5 95.7 93.5 94.8 95.6 95.5
Asian - Chinese 95.9 [c] 96.8 [c] [c] [c]
Asian - Other 95.1 95.3 93.9 [c] [c] 95.5
African/ Black/ Caribbean 92.3 93.9 96.0 94.1 95.1 96.6
All other categories 88.4 94.5 92.0 93.6 93.3 92.6
Not Disclosed/Not known 88.8 90.7 89.8 88.9 90.2 91.6
Urban/Rural
Large Urban Areas 90.2 92.4 92.4 92.4 92.2 93.2
Other Urban Areas 91.6 92.4 92.9 92.1 91.4 92.3
Accessible Small Towns 93.6 93.3 93.7 93.7 93.0 93.8
Remote Small Towns 93.3 94.6 94.8 93.6 91.1 93.1
Accessible Rural 92.4 95.2 95.1 94.5 93.7 94.7
Remote Rural 93.2 96.4 95.9 94.6 93.8 95.4
Additional Support Needs
ASN 85.2 87.7 88.4 87.9 87.2 89.2
No ASN 93.5 95.0 95.3 95.1 94.9 95.5
All Leavers 91.6 93.1 93.3 92.9 92.2 93.2

Note 11: Some categories have been grouped together due to small numbers. Some categories contain between 100-200 leavers and may be subject to fluctuation. Comparisons between groups should take this into account.

Note 12: The 'African/ Black/ Caribbean' category includes 'African', 'African - Other', and the 'Caribbean or Black' categories. 'All other categories' includes 'Other - other' and 'Other - Arab'.

Note 13: Additional Support Needs (ASN): pupils who have a Coordinated Support Plan (CSP), Individualised Education Programme (IEP), Child’s Plan, are assessed or declared disabled, or have another need. See section 4.9 for more information.

Contact

Email: school.stats@gov.scot

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