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, 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 at key stage 2 (age 11)
The majority (97.0%) of those with high key stage 2 prior attainment in reading, writing and maths at age 11 had a sustained destination, compared to 92.8% of those in the middle prior attainment band, and 88.4% 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 in their destination year than those with lower prior attainment, while those with lower prior attainment were more likely to attend FE colleges.
Prior Attainment at key stage 4 (age 16)
The majority (97.6%) of those achieving grade 4 and above in English and maths had a sustained education, employment or apprenticeship destination compared to 87.2% of those who did not.
Those achieving grade 4 or above were much more likely to attend school sixth forms (50.5%) and sixth-form colleges (16.2%), and less likely to attend further education colleges and other providers (25.2%) compared to students who did not achieve grade 4 and above (11.6%, 6.6% and 57.3% 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 (5.8%) or apprenticeships (5.0%) compared to students achieving grades 9 - 4 at key stage 4 (1.7% and 3.0% respectively).
Disadvantaged and all other pupils have similar patterns of destinations by prior attainment
Disadvantage and prior attainment at key stage 2
Disadvantaged and non disadvantaged pupils show similar patterns of destinations when split by prior attainment at key stage 2 but the gap between them remains across all prior attainment levels.
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 than equivalent non disadvantaged pupils.
Low attaining disadvantaged pupils were less than half as likely to go into sustained apprenticeships (2.9 percentage point gap) and more than twice as likely to not sustain their destination (7.4 percentage point gap) than low attaining non disadvantaged pupils.
Disadvantage and prior attainment at key stage 4
95.2% 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, 2.9 percentage points less than other pupils who had also achieved grade 4 and above in English and Maths (98.1%).
The gap between disadvantaged and other pupils widens when looking at those who did not achieve a 9-4 pass in English and Maths at key stage 4. Only 82.2% of disadvantaged students had any sustained destination, compared to 90.6% of all other pupils – an 8.4 percentage point gap.