Academic Year 2019/20

16-18 destination measures

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  1. This data was revised in January 2022 to include the latest available results data

These official statistics show the percentage of pupils continuing to a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination in the year after completing 16 - 18 study.

The release also provides information on destination outcomes for students based on a range of individual characteristics, their geographical location and type of education provider.

This data was revised in January 2022 to include the latest available results data. This data is used to identify students who continued their studies in independent schools. The revision led to no overall change in the national headline data.


Headline facts and figures - 2019/20

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What are destination measures?

Destination measures provide information on the success of schools and colleges in helping young people continue in education, apprenticeships or employment. 

Destination measures show the percentage of students going to or remaining in an education, apprenticeship or employment destination in the academic year after completing 16 to 18 studies (finishing year 13, usually aged 18). 

The most recent data reports on students who completed this stage in the 2018/19 academic year and identifies their main activity in the following year (2019/20).

Impact of COVID-19 on destination measures

As this publication is looking at activity in the first two terms of the 2019/20 academic year it is mostly unaffected by the COVID-19 disruption.  The only exception to this is data for students progressing to apprenticeships, this is because the methodology takes into account whether students have sustained an apprenticeship for 6 months at anytime in the 2019/20 academic year (between August 2019 and July 2020), rather than the first two terms for other destinations.  Please see the ‘constructing the measure’ section of the methodology for full details on destination definitions.

What is a ‘sustained’ destination? 

To be counted in a destination, young people have to be recorded as having sustained participation for a 6 month period in the destination year. This means attending for all of the first two terms of the academic year (October 2019 to March 2020) at one or more education providers; spending 5 of the 6 months in employment or a combination of the two.

A sustained apprenticeship is recorded when 6 months continuous participation is recorded at any point in the destination year  (between August 2019 and July 2020).

Student characteristics

Disadvantage status and pupil premium

Students were considered disadvantaged in year 11 and were eligible for pupil premium funding if they had been eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years, had been looked after by the local authority, or had been adopted from care. Students eligible for free school meals are a subset of the wider disadvantaged group. See methodology for details.

Disadvantage Status

Disadvantaged students were less likely to have a sustained destination

Students who were disadvantaged in year 11 (around a quarter of the cohort) were 12.0 percentage points less likely to have an overall sustained destination after post-16 study compared to all other students .

Disadvantaged students were less likely to go into higher education, apprenticeships and employment. The largest gap was in progression to higher education where it stood at 11.5 percentage points (26.4% for disadvantaged compared to 37.9% for all other students).

Outcomes for this group vary widely across England. The gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students sustaining a destination was greatest in North East England where it stood at 18.4 percentage points (64.6% compared to 83.0%, respectively). The smallest gap was recorded in London, with a difference of 4.4 percentage points (77.4% compared to 81.8%, respectively).

Gender

Female students were more likely to have an overall sustained destination than male students

Overall, 83.6% of female students had a sustained destination compared to 77.9% of male students. This is a difference of 5.7 percentage points.

Female students were more likely to continue in education than males (51.4% compared to 43.5%) and were less likely to take up apprenticeships (6.6% compared to 10.2%) after 16 to 18 study than male students.

The gender gap is most pronounced in progression to higher education. While 39.8% of female students went to higher education, the corresponding figure for male students was 30.6%. This is a difference of 9.2 percentage points.

A higher proportion of male students had no recorded activity in the year following the end of 16 to 18 study when compared to female students (6.7% compared to 4.2%, respectively).

Destinations varied by gender and disadvantage status

Non-disadvantaged female students were 8.3 percentage points more likely to sustain an education destination than disadvantaged female students (53.5% compared to 45.2%, respectively). Interestingly, there were similar proportions of disadvantaged female students and non-disadvantaged male students who sustained an education destination (45.2% and 45.0%, respectively). Disadvantaged male students (38.7%) were 6.3 percentage points less likely to sustain an education destination than non-disadvantaged male students (45.0%).

Non-disadvantaged male students were more likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination (11.2%) than non-disadvantaged female students (6.7%) and disadvantaged male and female students (7.1% and 6.2%, respectively).

Non-disadvantaged female students were most likely to sustain an employment destination (26.1%) whereas disadvantaged male students were least likely to sustain an employment destination (22.0%).

Ethnicity

Destination outcomes varied by ethnicity, particularly at the level of minor ethnic group

While there was relatively little variation between the major ethnic groups, the overall rate of sustained destinations varied significantly when looking at the more detailed minor ethnicity groupings.

Students who identified as Gypsy/Roma or as Traveller of Irish Heritage were the least likely to sustain a destination (48.8% and 58.8%). This is 31.9 and 21.9 percentage points lower than the national average (80.7%). The two groups (Gypsy/Roma and Traveller of Irish Heritage) are relatively small and their outcomes are volatile between years.

Within the Asian ethnic group, students of Indian ethnicity were most likely to have a sustained destination (86.8%), followed by students of Bangladeshi background (85.5%). Pakistani students were less likely to sustain a destination (80.7%) compared to the Asian ethnic average (83.9%).

Students who were either Mixed White and Black Caribbean (75.7%) or Black Caribbean (77.3%) were less likely to continue in a sustained destination compared to the national average for their major ethnic group (Mixed Dual Background; 79.1% and Black or Black British ethnic group; 83.2%). Students of Black African (85.7%) ethnicity were more likely to sustain a destination compared to the national average for Black or Black British major ethnic group (83.2%).

Special Educational Needs

Students with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools had similar destinations to other students without special educational needs 

Students with recorded special educational needs (SEN) were only 2.6 percentage points less likely to have an overall sustained destination than those students without SEN (85.2% compared to 87.8%, respectively). 

Students with SEN were slightly more likely to continue in education after 16 to 18 study and this was driven by SEN students being more likely to sustain a further education or other education destination than non-SEN students (6.8% and 6.2% respectively for SEN vs 2.6% and 3.6% for non-SEN). They were, however, less likely to continue in higher education compared to non-SEN students (49.5% compared to 54.9%, respectively). 

Learning difficulties or disabilities

College students with learning difficulties or disabilities (LLDD) were more likely to continue in education than other students without LLDD

Students with recorded learning difficulties or disabilities (LLDD) were more likely to stay in education after 16 to 18 study compared to all other college students (44.9% compared to 35.9%, respectively). This is a difference of 9.0 percentage points. Students with LLDD were more likely to continue in further education  than in higher education compared to the rest of the cohort without LLDD. Finally, they were less likely to take up apprenticeships or go into employment.

Geographical location

There was little variation between regions in sustained activity overall

The proportion of students leaving schools and colleges and sustaining an education, apprenticeship or employment destination is similar across the country. The North East (77.7%) and Inner London (78.2%) had the lowest proportion of students sustaining a destination. These values are 3.0 and 2.5 percentage points respectively lower than the national average.

London had the greatest proportion of students continuing in education after 16 to 18 study

Outer London, London and Inner London  had the greatest proportion of students leaving schools and colleges and sustaining an education destination (59.6%, 59.5% and 59.5%, respectively). These values are 12.2 and 12.1 percentage points above the national average (47.4%).  These regions also had the smallest proportion of students sustaining an apprenticeship destination (4.7%, 4.1% and 2.9%, respectively). These values are 3.7, 4.3 and 5.5 percentage points lower than the national average (8.4%).

North East had the greatest proportion of students progressing to apprenticeships

The North East had 12.2% of students leaving schools and colleges sustaining an apprenticeship destination. This is 3.8 percentage points greater than the national average.

South West, South East, and East of England had large proportions of students sustaining an employment destination

Students in the South West (31.7%), South East (30.5%) and East of England (29.3%) were most likely to sustain an employment destination.  These figures are 6.8, 5.6 and 4.4 percentage points greater than the national average (24.9%) for sustained employment destinations. This trend seems consistent with overall rates of employment by region seen in other statistics.

 

Qualification level studied and prior attainment

What are qualification levels?

Most qualifications have a difficulty level. The higher the level, the more difficult the qualification is.

Over two thirds of young people who reached the end of 16 to 18 study at state-funded mainstream schools and colleges in England took qualifications at level 3. A levels, applied general qualifications and tech levels are all level 3 qualifications.

Approximately 15% of students who reached the end of 16 to 18 study had taken predominately level 2 qualifications. These include GCSEs at grades above 3 (or grades A*, A, B and C) as well as other, more vocational level 2 qualifications.

The rest of the 16 to 18 leavers fall into the ‘all other’ category. These are students who took qualifications at level 1 or entry level, or qualifications that had no assigned level. These include lower level vocational qualifications and essential and functional skills qualifications.

Qualification levels

Students who took lower level qualifications were less likely to have a sustained activity

Overall, 87.6% of all students who studied at level 3 had a sustained destination, compared to 71.9% of students who studied mainly at level 2 and 57.2% of students who studied below level 2.

Level 3 students mostly continued in education, while students studying at lower levels tended to go into employment and apprenticeships

58.3% of level 3 students sustained an education destination after 16 to 18 study. Of those who mainly took level 2 courses, 25.4% sustained an education destination, 14.8% sustained an apprenticeship and 31.7% sustained employment. 

Over a quarter (25.7%) of students who took courses below level 2 sustained an employment destination, 18.5% sustained an education destination and 13.0% sustained an apprenticeship. Almost a third (30.2%) of all students who took courses below level 2 did not sustain their activity for 6 months. 

A substantial proportion of students who took qualifications below level 2 were not captured in the data

12.6% of students in the ‘All other qualifications’ category were not matched to any education, apprenticeship or employment data sources. This is 8.9 and 6.2 percentage points greater than level 3 students and level 2 students, respectively.

Prior Attainment at Key stage 2 (age 11)

Students who achieved above level 4 at key stage 2 were more likely to sustain a destination

Overall, 88.6% of students who achieved above level 4 at key stage 2 sustained an education, apprenticeship or employment destination in the year after 16 - 18 study. In comparison, 80.2% of students who achieved level 4 at key stage 2 and 67.5% of students who achieved below level 4 at key stage 2 sustained an education, apprenticeship or employment destination in the year after 16 - 18 study.

59.2% of students who achieved above level 4 at key stage 2 sustained an education destination, whereas 40.1% of those who achieved a level 4 at key stage 2 and 33.3% of those who achieved below level 4 at key stage 2 sustained an education destination.

Students who achieved level 4 at key stage 2 were most likely to sustain an apprenticeship or employment destination

Contrastingly, students who achieved level 4 or below level 4 at key stage 2 were more likely to sustain an apprenticeship than those who achieved above level 4 (11.0%, 8.1% and 7.3%, respectively). The students who achieved level 4 or below level 4 at key stage 2 were also more likely to sustain an employment destination than those who achieved above level 4 (29.1%, 26.1% and 22.0%, respectively).

Prior Attainment at Key stage 4 (age 16)

Students who achieved grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths at key stage 4 were more likely to sustain a destination

Students who achieved grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths at key stage 4 were more likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination (88.1%) than students who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths (70.7%).  This was predominately driven by students who achieved grades 9-4 in English and Maths at key stage 4 were more likely to sustain an education destination (56.4%) than those who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths (33.3%).

Students who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths were more likely to sustain an apprenticeship or employment destination

Students who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths were more likely to sustain an apprenticeship or an employment destination  (9.3% and 28.2%, respectively) in comparison to students who did achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths (8.2% and 23.5%, respectively).

 

Non-disadvantaged students who had attained grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths (E&M) at key stage 4 were most likely to sustain a destination

Overall, 89.1% of non-disadvantaged students who had attained grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths at key stage 4 sustained a destination, compared to 83.5% of disadvantaged. 

Disadvantaged students who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths at key stage 4 were least likely to sustain a destination

In total, 75.7% of non-disadvantaged students who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths at key stage 4 sustained a destination, whereas only 62.0% of disadvantaged students who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths sustained a destination. This is a gap of 13.7 percentage points.

There were similar proportions of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students sustaining an education destination

Once prior attainment had been controlled, there was very little difference between the proportion of non-disadvantaged and disadvantaged students who sustained an education destination. When students had attained grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths the difference was 2.0 percentage points. When students had not attained grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths the difference was 2.5 percentage points.

Similarly, there was very little difference between the proportion of non-disadvantaged and disadvantaged students who had achieved grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths and who sustained an apprenticeship destination (8.5% and 6.8%, respectively) or an employment destination (23.8% and 21.9%, respectively). However, there was a larger difference between the proportion of non-disadvantaged and disadvantaged students who did not achieve grades 9 - 4 in English and Maths and who sustained an apprenticeship destination (10.8% and 6.5%, respectively) or employment destination (30.6% and 23.9%, respectively). 

Change across the years

Comparing qualification levels over time

Until the 2015/16 cohort of students, this measure only included students who had entered A level or other approved level 3 qualifications at the end of their 16 to 18 study. Its scope has since expanded to include all students reaching the end of 16 to 18 study at post-16 providers, regardless of level at which they studied. The measure also includes students who took qualifications other than those approved for performance tables at 16 to 18.

Recent reforms to technical and applied qualifications make it difficult to compare data across years. The cohort of students who mainly took approved level 3 qualifications is different across years as the qualifications included in 16 to 18 performance tables has changed.

When tracking change over time, the report therefore focuses on the entire 16 to 18 cohort of leavers regardless of level studied.

The proportion of students going to sustained education and employment remained stable compared to the previous year

The proportion of students sustaining any destination after finishing 16 to 18 study has remained relatively stable in recent years (80.7%). The proportion of students sustaining an education destination after finishing 16 to 18 study has also remained stable over recent years (47.4%).  One quarter (24.9%) of students entered employment in the year following the end of post-16 study, this is very similar to  recent years. 

Students took up fewer apprenticeships overall, however there was an increased take up of higher apprenticeships

The proportion of students sustaining apprenticeships has been decreasing over recent years. In 2017/18, 9.5% of students sustained an apprenticeship, in 2018/19,  9.2% sustained an apprenticeship. This decreased further to 8.4% for 2019/20. In line with the recent trend a smaller proportion of students took both intermediate (level 2) and advanced (level 3) apprenticeships. A slightly larger proportion of students took up higher apprenticeships (level 4 and above) in 2018/19 and 2019/20 than 2017/18. This trend reflects a wider change in the sector driven by a decline in the number of lower level apprenticeship starts overall.

Institution type

Comparing school and college destination outcomes

When comparing destination outcomes between schools and colleges, it is important to take account of the differences in their student populations. Compared to schools, a higher proportion of students leave colleges having taken mainly qualifications at level 2 and below. These students tend to have lower prior attainment which is related to their likelihood of sustaining an education destination.

Destinations of students from different provider types are likely to reflect differences in the kinds of courses studied, differences in prior attainment, as well as student preferences. 

Destinations by qualification level

Level 3 college leavers were more likely to go to further education, apprenticeships and employment

Compared to state-funded mainstream schools and independent mainstream schools, colleges sent more level 3 students to apprenticeships or employment (6.6% and 27.6% respectively, compared to 5.6% and 19.8% for state-funded schools). Fewer college students continued in higher education and they were less likely to have a sustained destination overall than state-funded mainstream school students. Independent mainstream schools had a lower proportion of students sustaining any destination than state-funded mainstream schools however 12.8% of independent student activity was not captured. These findings suggest that students may have begun studying or moved abroad, or had a gap year after finishing 16-18 study. 

Students who mainly took level 2 qualifications at colleges had better outcomes than those leaving schools

Overall, 72.4% of level 2 college leavers had a sustained destination. In comparison, 66.9% of state-funded mainstream school leavers had a sustained destination. Both groups were similarly likely to take up apprenticeships (14.8% and 14.2%, respectively). 12.4% of level 2 school leavers continued studying at a school sixth form, whereas 22.8% of college leavers continue in education on an FE course where 12.9% studied at level 3 or above.

State-funded and independent school leavers had similar education destination outcomes

After studying level 3 qualifications, 63.9% of state-funded school leavers had a sustained education destination compared to 67.6% of independent school leavers. Only 0.8% of level 3 independent school leavers went into apprenticeships compared to 5.6% of level 3 students leaving state-funded mainstream schools.

 

What are University Technical Colleges and Studio schools?

University Technical College (UTC) specialise in subjects such as engineering. The college teaches these technical subjects alongside  teaching students business and IT skills. The curriculum is designed by the university and employers and often students can carry out work experience with these employers. 

Studio schools are small schools teaching mainstream qualifications. The student studies academic subjects in addition to working in realistic situations. Students work with local employers and a personal coach to design a curriculum that will equip them with the skills and qualifications they need for work or further education.

Local authority maintained schools and academies had similar destinations outcomes

Overall, 87.0% of all students leaving local authority (LA) maintained schools sustained a destination compared to 87.9% of students leaving academies and free schools. Their outcomes were also similar in terms of the proportion of students sustaining an education, apprenticeship or employment destination.

University Technical Colleges had the highest proportion of students going to apprenticeships

18.5% of students leaving University Technical College (UTC) went on to a sustained apprenticeship destination. This is more than twice the national average for students sustaining an apprenticeship destination (8.4%). 5.0% of students leaving UTCs sustained an apprenticeship destination at level 4 or above. This is compared to the national average of 1.3% of students sustaining an apprenticeship destination at level 4 or above.

Students leaving studio schools were the least likely to have an overall sustained destination of all school types

77.6% of studio school leavers sustained either an education, apprenticeship or employment destination compared to 87.7% for all school types. 25.7% of studio school leavers sustained an employment destination (this is 0.8 percentage points higher than the national average for students sustaining an employment destination).

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These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

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Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

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