Academic year 2020/21

Key stage 4 destination measures

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See all updates (2) for Academic year 2020/21
  1. Update made to the institution level ancillary file within the release.

  2. This data was revised in February 2023 to include the latest available results data which is is used to identify pupils who continued their studies in independent schools. There has also been an update to the self employment data used in the release. The revision led to no overall change in the national headlines but it did raise sustained rates of individual providers.

Introduction

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

These official statistics show the percentage of pupils continuing to a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination in England in the year after completing key stage 4 study (after year 11) from state-funded mainstream schools.

The release also provides information on destination outcomes for different groups of pupils and education providers.


Headline facts and figures - 2020/21

This publication is about the destinations for pupils from state funded mainstream schools who left key stage 4 in 2019/20 and follows their destinations in 2020/21.

  • 94.1% of pupils were in a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination, broadly unchanged from the previous year
  • 89.3% of pupils were in sustained education, this shows a 2.1 percentage point increase since last year. 
  • 4.8% of pupils did not have a recorded sustained destination in the year after key stage 4
  • Only 1.1% of year 11 leavers were not captured in any of the data sources

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What are destination measures?

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.

Key stage 4 destination measures follow pupils who were at the end of key stage 4 study (GCSE and equivalent qualifications) in 2019/20, and reports their destinations in the following academic year (2020/21).

They show the percentage of pupils going to an education, apprenticeship or employment destination. To be counted in a destination, young people have to have sustained participation for a 6 month period in the destination year. Full details are provided in the methodology document that accompanies this release.

The headline statistics refer to pupils leaving state-funded mainstream schools in England.

Some pupils do not sustain their destination for at least two terms, these students are recorded as “Not recorded as a sustained destination”.  Overall, there is activity information on 99% of the cohort.

Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on destination measures

As this publication is looking at activity in the first two terms of the 2020/21 academic year it is affected by the COVID-19 disruption. Many employers and apprenticeship providers took on fewer individuals during the pandemic and so it is anticipated that sustained employment and apprenticeship destinations will be lower than for previous years.

Revised data changes - February 2023

As planned, this statistics release was revised in February 2023 to incorporate additional data that became available following the provisional release in October.  The update relates to results data, which is used to identify pupils who continued their studies in independent schools and therefore shows as an increase to education destinations.  There has also been an update the self-employment data used within the release which sees an increase in positive employment destinations since the provisional statistics release.

The revision led to small overall changes in the national headline data, but it did raise sustained rates across a number of individual providers.

Pupil characteristics

Disadvantage status and pupil premium

Pupils 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. Pupils eligible for free school meals are a subset of the wider disadvantaged group. See methodology for details.

Disadvantage status

Disadvantaged pupils are less likely to have a sustained destination

Disadvantaged pupils (those eligible for pupil premium funding) were less likely to have a sustained destination (88.6%) than all other pupils (96.0%).

The most common destination for disadvantaged pupils was further education (45.5%), compared to a school sixth form destination (43.4%) for all other pupils.

Disadvantaged pupils were more likely to enter an employment destination and less likely to go into a sustained apprenticeship than all other pupils. Disadvantaged pupils were also more likely not to sustain a destination (9.7%) compared to all other pupils (3.1%).

Gender

Female pupils were more likely to sustain a destination than male pupils

This was driven by female pupils being 4.5 percentage points more likely to sustain an education destination. Conversely, male pupils were more likely to sustain an apprenticeship or employment destination.

Disadvantage status and gender

Disadvantaged male pupils were least likely to sustain a destination

Non-disadvantaged female pupils were most likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination. There was a 6.7 percentage points gap between not disadvantaged female students and disadvantaged female students and 8.3 percentage points gap between not disadvantaged male students and disadvantaged male students. 

Non-disadvantaged female pupils were most likely to sustain an education destination. This was 4.6, 7.3 and 12.0 percentage points higher than non- disadvantaged males, disadvantaged females and disadvantaged males, respectively. 

Non-disadvantaged male pupils were most likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination. This was 1.8, 1.8 and 2.2 percentage points higher than non-disadvantaged females, disadvantaged males and disadvantaged females, respectively. 

Interestingly, disadvantaged male pupils were most likely to sustain an employment destination. This was 1.0, 1.4 and 2.4 percentage points higher than non-disadvantaged males, disadvantaged females and non-disadvantaged females, respectively. 

Ethnicity

Pupils from Indian and Chinese backgrounds were most likely to sustain a destination

This was mainly driven by these students being most likely to sustain an education destination. Pupils from Gypsy Roma backgrounds were least likely to sustain an education destination.

Pupils from white British background were most likely to sustain apprenticeship destinations. The proportion of pupils from white British background sustaining apprenticeship destinations dropped from 4.9% in 2019/20 to 3.3% in 2020/21. Most of the other ethnic backgrounds had lower sustained apprenticeship destinations in 2020/21 when compared to 2019/20. This difference is likely to be due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Pupils from Gypsy Roma and Traveller of Irish Heritage backgrounds were most likely to sustain employment destinations. These two groups are relatively small and their outcomes are volatile between years. Pupils from Black African or Chinese backgrounds were least likely to sustain employment destinations.

SEN support and Education, health and care plans

SEN support is given in school. It can include, for example, a special learning programme, extra help from a teacher or assistant, to work in a small group, observation in class or at break, help taking part in class activities etc.

Education, health and care plans (EHC) are for young people, aged up to 25, who need more support than is available through special educational needs support. EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

Special Educational Needs

Pupils with no identified special educational need (SEN) were most likely to sustain any destination; those pupils with SEN support were least likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination.

90.1% of pupils with no identified SEN sustained an education destination. This was 6.7, 6.0 and 2.3 percentage points greater than pupils who had SEN support, those who had identified SEN and those who had Education Health and Care plans.

Pupils who had no identified SEN and those with SEN support were equally as likely to sustain apprenticeship destinations. Those who had SEN support were also most likely to sustain an employment destination.

Geographical location

Pupils from London and South East were most likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination. 

Pupils from London and South East were more likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination, whereas pupils from the North East were least likely to.

93.6% of pupils from Outer London, closely followed by Inner London where 93.2% of pupils sustained an education destination. These values are 4.3 and 3.9 percentage points greater than the national average.

Pupils from the South West were most likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination, whereas Inner London had the lowest proportion of pupils sustaining an apprenticeship destination.

3.3% of pupils from the North East sustained an employment destination, whereas pupils from Inner London were least likely to sustain an employment destination. 

Change across the years

Compared to previous years, a larger proportion of pupils sustained education destinations, but a smaller proportion of pupils sustained apprenticeship or employment destinations.

In the 2020/21 academic year, 94.1% of pupils had a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination in the year after completing key stage 4. This is broadly similar to previous years.

The  proportion of pupils who sustained an education destination has been increasing in recent years and increased by 2.1 percentage points from 2019/20 to 2020/21. 

The proportion of pupils who sustained an apprenticeship or employment destination was lower in 2020/21 compared to previous years. It is likely that these results are due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many of the pupils who did not have a sustained destination (4.8% in 2020/21) will have had some participation in the year after finishing key stage 4 but did not sustain the destination throughout the required 6 month period. 

Prior attainment

Attainment and destinations are closely linked

Pupils’ attainment at the end of primary school (key stage 2) and at the end of key stage 4, have a strong relationship with the likelihood of staying in education, apprenticeships or employment, and with the specific destinations to which they progress.

Attainment at different points in time

The measures indicating whether students have met key thresholds are published by the Department for Education as outcomes from, and accountability measures for, these key stages. Although some students make faster or slower progress during secondary school, attainment at the two key stages is closely correlated. 

The prior attainment thresholds referenced reflect the policies in place at the time the cohort completed those key stages and may differ from current benchmarks.

Further information on the prior attainment levels at key stage 2 and key stage 4 can be found in the methodology section of this release.

Prior attainment

Attainment for this cohort of students is available for two sets of assessments - the end of key stage 2 (KS2), when children take national tests in English reading, maths, and grammar, punctuation and spelling (age 11); and at the end of key stage 4 (KS4), when most pupils take GCSEs or other equivalent qualifications (age 16).

Pupils are allocated into three prior attainment groups based on their key stage 2 results - for low, middle, and high prior attainers. This cohort of leavers reflects the policies in place at the time the cohort completed key stage 2 and are not affected by the 2016 changes to KS2 national  curriculum tests. We continue to refer to national curriculum levels in the table.

Key stage 4 attainment shows whether pupils achieved a grade of either 4 or above in English and maths GCSEs.

Prior Attainment at key stage 2 (age 11)

Pupils who achieved above level 4 at key stage 2 (KS2) were more likely to sustain a destination than pupils who achieved at level 4 or below level 4

Pupils who had high prior attainment at KS2 were more likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination than those pupils whom had middle or low prior attainment. Pupils who had high prior attainment at KS2 were more likely to sustain an education destination, but least likely to sustain an apprenticeship or employment destination. 

Pupils who had middle prior attainment at KS2 were most likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination out of all prior attainment at KS2 groups. Those pupils who low prior attainment at KS2 were most likely to sustain an employment destination out of all prior attainment at KS2 groups, however they were least likely to sustain an education destination. 

Prior Attainment at key stage 4 (age 16)

Pupils who achieved grades 9 to 4 in English and maths at key stage 4 (KS4) were more likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination

There was a considerable gap (15.8 percentage points) in the proportion of pupils who sustained an education destination who achieved at least grade 4 English and maths and those who did not achieve these grades.

These students who did not achieve at least grade 4 in English and maths at KS4 were more likely to sustain apprenticeship or employment destinations.

Key stage 2 Prior Attainment (KS2) and Disadvantage Status

Disadvantaged pupils were consistently less likely to sustain education or apprenticeship destinations in comparison to not disadvantaged pupils who had comparable prior attainment at key stage 2

Not disadvantaged pupils were more likely to sustain education or apprenticeship destinations in comparison to disadvantaged pupils. 

Interestingly, pupils who were disadvantaged and had high prior attainment at KS2 were only marginally more likely to sustain an education destination than not disadvantaged pupils who had middle prior attainment at KS2.

Disadvantaged pupils who had either middle or low prior attainment at KS2 were more likely to sustain an employment destination than not disadvantaged pupils. 

Pupils who were disadvantaged or not disadvantaged who had low prior attainment at KS2 had similar rates of sustained employment destinations.

Key stage 4 Prior Attainment (KS4) and Disadvantage Status

Pupils who were not disadvantaged and achieved grades 9 to 4 in English and maths at key stage 4 (KS4) were most likely to sustain an education destination

Pupils who were disadvantaged and achieved at least grade 4 in English and maths at KS4 were 2.8 percentage points less likely to sustain an education destination than their non-disadvantaged peers. There was a 5.3 percentage point difference in the proportion of disadvantaged and not disadvantaged pupils sustaining an education destination when they had not achieved at least grade 4 in English and maths at KS4.

In a similar way, pupils who were not disadvantaged and did not achieve at least grade 4 in English and maths at KS4 were 2.5 percentage points more likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination than their disadvantaged peers. 

Sustained employment rates were relatively similar between pupils who were in the same prior attainment categories.

Mainstream institution type

Pupils from converter academies were more likely to sustain a destination than pupils from any other institution types

Pupils from converter academies were most likely to sustain an education, apprenticeship or employment destination, whereas pupils from FE colleges with 14 to 16 provision were least likely to sustain any destination. This was driven by education destinations. 90.7% of pupils from converter academies and 64.2% from FE colleges with 14 to 16 provision sustained an education destination. 

Pupils from studio schools were most likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination, this was closely followed by university technical colleges. Free schools had the lowest proportion of pupils sustaining an apprenticeship destination.

FE colleges with 14 to 16 provision had the highest proportion of pupils sustaining an employment destination. This was 5.2 percentage points higher than the national average. Pupils from free schools had the lowest proportion of pupils sustaining an employment destination.

Education destinations

School sixth forms were the most popular education destination

School sixth forms were the most popular education destination across all of the institution types (39.1%), followed by Further Education (36.1%), Sixth form colleges (13.3%) and other education (0.8%). 

Pupils who went to FE colleges with 14 to 16 provision, studio schools and sponsored academies were more likely to sustain further education destinations. 

Few pupils sustained other education destinations (independent schools, alternative provision and special schools).

Other institution types

Special schools

A number of pupils go to schools specifically for pupils with special educational needs – ‘special schools’. These pupils may either go to state-funded special schools, or non-maintained special schools where state-funding follows the learner. The different types of special school are not shown separately.

Of pupils in special schools, 90.5% had an overall sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination compared to 94.1% for pupils in state-funded mainstream schools. 

Over half of pupils from special schools (54.6%) stayed in the special school sector, 28.8% sustained a further education destination, whilst only 1.3% sustained an employment destination and 0.2% sustained an apprenticeship destination.

Alternative provision (AP)

State place funded AP includes pupil referral units, academy and free school alternative provision and hospital schools.

Other alternative provision includes education funded by the local authority outside of state place funded schools, including independent schools, non-maintained special schools, and providers who do not meet the criteria for registration as a school.

Less than 2% of pupils who completed key stage 4 were mainly attending state place funded AP or other types of alternative provision. 66.5% of pupils from AP went to a sustained destination, compared with 94.1% from state-funded mainstream schools. 

In 2020/21, 57.7% of pupils from AP sustained an education destination, this was 8.1 percentage points greater than 2019/20 where 49.6% of pupils from AP sustained education destinations. The majority of these pupils sustained further education destinations (36.5% for 2020/21 and 31.2% for 2019/20).

Nearly a third (28.8%) of pupils in any AP provision didn't sustain their destination for the required 6-month period, this compares to 4.8% of students from state funded mainstream schools. A larger proportion of AP pupils had no activity captured compared to mainstream pupils (4.7% compared to 1.1%). 

AP pupils were more likely to go on to employment (7.3% compared to 2.4% in mainstream schools).

Similar to state-funded mainstream schools, pupils from AP were less likely to sustain apprenticeships (1.4% for 2020/21 and 2.5% for 2019/20) or employment destinations in 2020/21 than in the previous year (7.3% for 2020/21 and 9.9% for 2019/20). It is likely that these findings are due to apprenticeship providers and employers taking on fewer staff due to COVID-19.

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

Official statistics

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

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

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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Destination measures

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