Academic year 2017/18

Key stage 4 destination measures

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These statistics show the percentage of pupils continuing to a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination in the year after completing key stage 4 study (after year 11).

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

Headline facts and figures - 2017/18

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What are destination measures

Destination measures show the percentage of pupils going to or remaining in an education, apprenticeship or employment destination in the academic year after completing their key stage 4 (finishing year 11, usually aged 16) studies. The most recent data reports on students who completed the key stage in the 2016/17 academic year and identifies their destination the following year.

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

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 2017 to March 2018) at one or more education providers; spending 5 of the 6 months in employment or a combination of the two. Specific destinations such as school sixth forms, further education institutions or apprenticeships are reported for these pupils. A sustained apprenticeship is recorded when 6 months continuous participation is recorded at any point in the destination year.   

Change over time

Key stage 4 destinations follow pupils who were at the end of key stage 4 study in 2016/17, i.e. they had finished compulsory schooling in year 11 and had likely taken GCSE and equivalent qualifications. In the destination year, 2017/18, these students are aged 16 and 17 and entering year 12, their first year of sixth-form or post-16 education or training. 

Not all pupils achieve a sustained destination by staying in education, employment or apprenticeships for at least two terms, but in most cases some data exists on their activity in the destination year. Overall, there is activity information on 99% of the cohort.

In 2017/18, all key stage 4 headline destination percentages remained similar to 2016/17 with 94% of pupils going into a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination. The majority of pupils continued in education (87%). A further 4% of pupils went into a sustained apprenticeship destination and 3% were in sustained employment.

Sustained education destinations have increased steadily by 5 percentage points overall since 2010/11 (up from 82% to 87%). The rise is driven by the Raising the Participation Age (RPA) policy which was introduced in 2013/14. 

Apprenticeships have remained broadly constant, fluctuating between 4% and 5%.

Since Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) employment data was added in 2014/15, employment destinations have been constant at 3%. 

Many of the pupils not counted as being in a sustained destination will have some participation in the year after finishing key stage 4, but is not sustained throughout the required 6 month period.

Pupil characteristics

Girls are more likely to have a sustained destination than boys

  • In all state-funded mainstream schools, 94% of girls and 93% of boys had a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination. Girls (88%) were more likely to have an education destination than boys (84%).
  • Boys (5%) were more likely to have a sustained an apprenticeship compared to girls (3%).

Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) are less likely to have a sustained destination

  • Pupils with special education needs were less likely to have any sustained destination than those with no identified SEN. 90% went onto education, employment or apprenticeships compared to 95% of those with no identified SEN.
  • SEN pupils overall were also less likely to go into any sustained education destination (82%) than all other pupils (87%) although those with an education, health and care (EHC) plan or statement of SEN were just as likely (87%) to go into a sustained education destination.
  • Destinations varied by the type of need, pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs were least likely to go to sustained education (69%) and more likely not to have a sustained destination (18%) compared to all other types of need.

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%) than all other pupils (96%). Percentages for both groups remain unchanged since 2016/17.
  • The most common destination for disadvantaged pupils was further education (45%), compared to a school sixth form destination (42%) for all other pupils. 
  • Disadvantaged pupils were more likely to enter an employment destination and less likely to go into a sustained apprenticeship.  They were also more likely not to sustain a destination compared to all other pupils.
  • The figures for disadvantaged pupils are very similar to the breakdowns for pupils eligible for free school meals (who are a subset of the wider disadvantaged group).

Destination outcomes vary by ethnicity

  • Pupils from Gypsy Roma and Irish traveller backgrounds had very distinctive destinations compared to all other pupils. Only 57% of Gypsy/Roma and 59% of Irish traveller pupils continued in education (mostly in further education providers). They were more likely than other ethnic groups to go into sustained employment or not sustain a destination.
  • Pupils from Chinese and Indian backgrounds had the highest rate of sustained education, employment or training destinations overall, at 96% and 97% respectively. The majority of them continued in school sixth forms.
  • Across the majority of ethnic groups disadvantaged pupils have a lower percentage of sustained destinations than non-disadvantaged. The largest gap was found in pupils of white ethnic background (9%). 

Prior attainment

Attainment and destinations are closely linked

Pupils’ attainment both at the end of key stage 4, and at the end of primary school (key stage 2), have a strong relationship with the likelihood of staying in education and 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.

Attainment at key stage 2 (age 11)

The majority (97%) of those with high key stage 2 prior attainment in reading, writing and maths at age 11 had a sustained destination, compared to 93% of those in the middle prior attainment band, and 89% of those with low key stage 2 prior attainment. 

Those with higher prior attainment were much more likely to attend school sixth forms and sixth form colleges at 16, and less likely to attend further education colleges and other providers. 

Attainment at key stage 4 (age 16)

The majority (97%) of those achieving grade 4 and above in English and maths had a sustained education, employment or apprenticeship destination compared to 88% of those who did not. 

Those achieving grade 4 or above were much more likely to attend school sixth forms (51%) and sixth-form colleges (14%), and less likely to attend further education colleges and other providers (26%) compared to students who did not achieve grade 4 and above (13%, 5% and 57% respectively). This may in part reflect conditions of entry, or the wider range of qualifications, including at level 2 or below, on offer at many FE colleges. 

Students not achieving grade 4 or above were more likely to progress to sustained employment (6%) or apprenticeships (6%) compared to students achieving (2% and 4% respectively).

Disadvantage and prior attainment

Disadvantaged and all other pupils have similar patterns of destinations by prior attainment.

Looking at attainment at key stage 2, high attaining pupils were less likely to go into sustained apprenticeships than middle or low achievers. High and middle achieving disadvantaged pupils were less likely to go into a school sixth form or a sixth form college and more likely to go into a further education college or employment. They were also more likely not to sustain their destination.

Low attaining pupils’ outcomes were similar across the disadvantaged and all other groups in terms of education destinations. However, low attaining disadvantaged pupils were significantly less likely to go into sustained apprenticeships (4 percentage point gap) and much more likely not to sustain their destination (7 percentage point gap) than those who were not found to be disadvantaged.

When looking at achievements at the end of key stage 4, 95% of disadvantaged pupils who achieved grade 4 and above in English and maths went on to stay in education, employment or training for two terms, 3 percentage points less than other pupils who had achieved this (98%).

The gap between disadvantaged and other pupils widens when looking at those who did not achieve a 4-9 pass in English and maths at key stage 4. Only 83% of disadvantaged had any sustained destination, compared to 91% of all other pupils – an 8 percentage point gap.

Mainstream institution type

Destinations for state-funded mainstream institutions by funding type

Included in this publication are further breakdowns by type for state-funded mainstream institutions and include local authority maintained schools, academies, free schools and further education colleges with 14-16 provision.

UTCs, Studio schools and FE colleges

School and college types are reported on the basis of schools open at the start of the 2016/17 academic year (when these pupils began their last year of key stage 4 study). 

There are small, but increasing, numbers of UTCs and studio schools and small numbers of pupils in FE colleges with 14-16 provision included in this publication so the data may be subject to volatility for these institution types. 

Overall education, employment and apprenticeship destinations for local authority (LA) maintained schools, converter academies, free schools and university technical colleges (UTC) are broadly in line with the national average of 94%. Sponsored academies (91%), studio schools (91%) and further education (FE) colleges (78%) are below the national average.

The type of education destination differs between school types with pupils in converter academies and free schools more likely to go on to school sixth forms, compared to the national average of 38%, while LA maintained schools, sponsored academies and studio schools are less likely. This may partly reflect the higher likelihood of schools of these types having their own sixth-form provision. LA maintained schools (15%) have the highest proportion going into sixth form colleges and are the only institution type where this destination is above the national average (11%).  These differences may reflect varying policies on post-16 provision in different areas of the country.

Sustained apprenticeship and employment destinations for UTCs (9% and 5%) and studio schools (6% and 7%) are above the national average (4% and 3%) in both categories. All other school types are broadly similar to the national average except for FE colleges where students are more than twice as likely to go in to employment (8%) when compared to the national figure of 3%.

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% had an overall sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination compared to 94% for pupils in state-funded mainstream schools. 

Over half of pupils from special schools (53%) stayed in the special school sector.

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 type of alternative provision. Just over half of pupils (59%) from alternative provision went to a sustained destination, compared with 94% from state-funded mainstream schools. 

Over a third (35%) of pupils in any AP provision had no sustained destination. A larger proportion of AP pupils had no activity captured compared to mainstream pupils (6% compared to 1%). 

AP pupils were more likely to go on to employment (10% compared to 3% in mainstream schools).

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