Attainment gap grows in destinations for school leavers
Drop in number of school leavers going to 'positive destinations' according to official figures
Positive destinations - Adobe stock
The number of school leavers going onto 'positive destinations' has fallen for the first time in five years.
The drop is higher among those from more deprived backgrounds, widening the attainment gap between the rich and poor.
'Positive destinations' is a term used by the Scottish Government to describe those pupils going on to higher education, further education, training, employment, voluntary work or an activity agreement.
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This means there has been a rise in the number of school leavers going on to be "unemployed seeking work", "unemployed not seeking work" and "other".
Official figures show 91.4 per cent of 2015/16 leavers in a positive follow-up destination in March 2017, down from 92.0 per cent for 2014/15.
Numbers going into further education has fallen for the third year in a row.
Meanwhile, among the richest 20 per cent fewer than 4 percent don’t go on to employment, education or training, but for the poorest 20 percent that same number is 15 percent.
The Scottish Government highlighted figures showing the number of school leavers with at least one Higher increased to 61.7 per cent, up from 60.2 per cent in 2014-15 and compared with 55.7 per cent in 2012-13.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said structural reforms announced last week would close the attainment gap.
"By giving more power to schools, including more direct control over budgets, we will empower schools to target resources where they are needed the most to improve the life chances of all of our children and young people,” he said.
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said: “The number of young people going on to positive destinations is one of the First Minister’s go-to statistics when she is under pressure.
“Now she can’t even say that is increasing.
Labour Education spokesperson Iain Gray called the figures a "black mark" on the SNP's record.
“Nicola Sturgeon promised to make education her top priority. Instead the gap between the richest and the poorest has grown as opportunities for school leavers are closed off," he said.
“Young people, especially those from the poorest backgrounds, are being failed by an SNP government which has made a mess of education policy in Scotland."
Girls are more likely to enter a positive destination than boys; 92 percent of girls and 91 per cent of boys enter a positive destination.
Professor Polly Arnold OBE is the Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.
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