More school leavers entering positive destinations
More young people in Scotland are entering “positive destinations” including work, training or further study within three months of leaving than school than ever before, new figures have revealed.
A total of 94.4 per cent of school leavers entered a positive destination in 2017/18 compared with 87 per cent in 2009/10.
The figures also show the gap between those from the most and least deprived communities achieving a positive destination has halved since 2009/10, with an increase in positive destinations for school leavers from both backgrounds.
But there is still a “class divide” between those living in the most deprived areas compared with those from the least deprived.
The figures show the percentage of school leavers from the most deprived areas entering unemployment was higher than those from the least deprived areas and the number of young people going to university was far lower amongst those people from the most deprived areas.
In 2017/18, just 25.7 per cent of school leavers from the most deprived areas went on to higher education, compared to 61.6 per cent of those from wealthier areas.
And the most common destination for school leavers from the most deprived areas was further education at 37.7 per cent, compared with 15.3 per cent of young people from wealthier backgrounds.
Education Secretary John Swinney welcomed the overall improvements, but admitted there was more work to be done to close the gap between the richest and poorest communities.
He said: “These welcome statistics show that more young Scots are studying, training or working within three months of leaving school than ever before. And the gap between the richest and poorest communities for those getting into one of these positive destinations is now half what it was. That is real world progress in tackling an age old problem.
“They also show pupils are generally staying at school for longer and gaining more qualifications between fourth and sixth year. I am particularly pleased to see the attainment gap between school leavers achieving a pass at Higher level or better is at a record low.
“At National 4 and 5 level, however, the attainment gap has remained broadly flat over the last two years which reflects the distance we know we have to go and why we are investing more than £180 million through the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2019/20 alone.
“The figures published today are encouraging but we know there is more to do to raise attainment and ensure all our young people have the very best chance to build the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to succeed – regardless of their background.”
Scottish Labour said the figures “exposed Scotland’s class divide”.
The party’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “In Scotland today, young people from the most deprived areas are more likely to go to college and less likely to go straight to university after school.
“Despite that, the SNP has under invested in further education – diminishing opportunities for a whole section of young people.
“John Swinney also must stop counting zero-hour contract jobs as a positive destination in the future, even if it makes it more difficult for him to spin the numbers.
“Labour would invest in education and our communities because we know the most important investment a country can make is in its people.”