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.