Academic year 2020/21

Longer term destinations

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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 number of students that have sustained at least 6 months of education, apprenticeship or employment activity in their first, third and fifth year after finishing key stage 4.

The release provides information at national, regional, local authority and institution levels with breakdowns by student characteristics. 


Headline facts and figures - 2020/21

Overall sustained destinations after one year

94.1%

This remains unchanged from the 2014/15 cohort.

What are overall sustained destinations

Overall sustained destinations include sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destinations.

Overall sustained destinations after three years

82.4%

0.6 percentage point decrease since 2014/15 cohort

What are overall sustained destinations

Overall sustained destinations include sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destinations.

Overall sustained destinations after five years

79.5%

1.5 percentage point decrease since 2014/15 cohort

What are overall sustained destinations

Overall sustained destinations include sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destinations.

This publication is about the longer term destinations of students who reached the end of key stage 4 study in 2015/16 (2016 leavers).

  • The proportion of students who sustained an overall destination one and three years after finishing key stage 4 remained broadly stable when compared to the previous year’s cohort.
  • Students who left key stage 4 in 2016 were 1.5 percentage points less likely to be in a sustained destination five years on compared to the previous year’s cohort. This year (2020 to 2021 academic year) was affected by disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Apprenticeship participation was highest in the third year after key stage 4 with almost one in ten students from the cohort being recorded in an apprenticeship (9.6%).
  • There were substantial differences in destination outcomes for disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. The gap between the two groups in sustaining any destination was widest 5 years after finishing key stage 4 (21.0 percentage points).
  • Female students were more likely than male students to stay in education across the three measured time periods. They were less likely to go into apprenticeships.

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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. 

Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on destination measures

Destinations in the fifth year (2020 to 2021 academic year) after finishing key stage 4 were affected by disruption caused by the pandemic. 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. As this release focuses on 2016 leavers, destinations in years one and three relate to time periods prior to the pandemic and are unaffected by it.

Longer term destinations focus on destination activity 1, 3 and 5 years after completing key stage 4.

This differs from the standard measures which focus on activity in the first year after completing key stage 4 (for example GCSEs) or 16 to 18 study (for example A levels). 

The most recent data reports on students who left key stage 4 in the 2015 to 2016 academic year and identifies their main activity in 2016 to 2017 (when they would be age 16 or 17), 2018 to 2019 (age 18 or 19) and 2020 to 2021 (age 20 or 21) academic years.

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. How this rule is applied varies depending on the type of activity measured. 

Please see the ‘constructing the measure’ section of the methodology for full details on destination definitions.

This six-month requirement encourages schools and colleges to support and prepare their students to progress to a destination that offers sustained engagement.

In this longer term destinations measure, a sustained destination in the fifth year requires six months of activity in the fifth year only, not sustained activity throughout the five-year period (and likewise for destinations in the third year).

Change across the years

The proportion of students who sustained an overall destination one year after finishing key stage 4 was 94.1%. This remained unchanged from the previous year's cohort. 

The proportion of students who sustained an overall destination three years after finishing key stage 4 was 82.4%. down by 0.6 percentage points in comparison to the previous year's cohort.

Finally, 79.5% of students had an overall sustained destination five years after finishing key stage 4, down by 1.5 percentage points in comparison to the previous year's cohort.

There was little change in sustained destinations 1 and 3 years between cohorts that finished key stage 4 in academic years 2013/14 to 2015/16. However, 2015/16 leavers were less likely to be in sustained destinations 5 years on when compared to previous cohorts. This was driven by decreases in work and apprenticeship destinations in academic year 2020 to 2021. This year (2020 to 2021 academic year) was affected by disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Pupil characteristics

When is a pupil considered disadvantaged?

Pupils are defined as disadvantaged if they were eligible for pupil premium when they were in Year 11 at school. This includes pupils who had:

  • been eligible for free school meals at any point in the previous six years
  • been looked after by their local authority for at least 1 day
  • left care through adoption, a special guardianship order, or a child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order).

This information comes from local authority records and the School Census. 

Disadvantage Status

The gap between disadvantaged students and non-disadvantaged students sustaining an overall destination was widest 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study. This gap has grown wider in the latest measured period.

Students who were disadvantaged at the end of key stage 4 were less likely to have an overall sustained destination in the year that followed compared to non-disadvantaged students. This was driven by non-disadvantaged students being more likely to sustain an education destination than disadvantaged students. The gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students widened 3 years after they finished key stage 4 and was wider still 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study (14.4pp and 21.0pp, respectively).

The gap after 5 years has been steadily widening between cohorts: from 16.8 percentage points for the 2012/13 group of leavers to 21.0 percentage points for 2015/16 leavers. It is important to note that year 5 for the 2016 leavers was affected by disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Non-disadvantaged students were more likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination 1, 3 and 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study compared to disadvantaged students. 

Disadvantaged students were more likely to sustain an employment destination 1 year after finishing key stage 4 study compared to non-disadvantaged students. However, non-disadvantaged students were more likely to sustain employment destinations 3 and 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study than disadvantaged students. 

Prior Attainment

Students who achieved A* to C in English and maths at key stage 4 were more likely to sustain  an overall destination than those who did not achieve these grades

This gap was mainly driven by students with higher prior attainment being more likely to sustain an education destination than those with lower prior attainment. The gap in participation in sustained education between the two groups grew from 15.8pp after 1 year, to 22.8pp and 39.7pp in years 3 and 5.

Students who did not achieve A* to C in English and maths were more likely to sustain apprenticeship destinations 1 and 3 years after finishing key stage 4 than those students who did achieve these grades (3.0pp and 1.3pp gap respectively). Students with higher prior attainment were 0.9 percentage points more likely to sustain an apprenticeship destination 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study than those students with lower prior attainment.

Students who did not achieve A* to C in English and maths were more likely to sustain employment destinations in each of the measured periods than those who did.

Gender

Female students were more likely to have an overall sustained destination 1, 3 and 5 years after finishing key stage 4 than male students 

Female students were 1.1 percentage points more likely to have an overall sustained destination than male students in the first year after finishing key stage 4. This gap grows to 4.3 percentage points in year 3 and levels off at 4.0pp in year 5. This difference is driven by female students being more likely to sustain an education destination than male students across the three measured time periods.

Male students were more likely than female students to take up apprenticeships. The gap between the proportion of female and male students who sustained an apprenticeship destination widened at 3 years and narrowed slightly 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study. 

Male and female students were similarly likely to be in sustained employment in years 1 and 3 after key stage 4, with close to 1 in 4 being found in work in year 3. Male students became more likely to sustain employment destinations 5 years than female students.

Special educational needs

Students with special educational needs (SEN) in state-funded mainstream schools were less likely to have a sustained destination overall at 1, 3 and 5 after completing key stage 4

Students with recorded special educational needs (SEN) were 6.0 percentage points less likely to have an overall sustained destination a year after key stage 4 than those students without SEN (88.9% compared to 94.9%, respectively).  This difference has been driven by students  with recorded special educational needs being less likely to sustain an education destination than students with no identified special educational needs. This trend continued in the other two measured periods.

The gap between SEN students and non-SEN students widened 3 years after they finished key stage 4 and was widest 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study (13.1pp and 21.4pp, respectively).  

Geographical location

Destinations by region

Students in the North East were less likely to have an overall sustained destination 1, 3 and 5 years after key stage 4 study than students from other regions in England

Students in the East of England, South East, South West and Outer London were most likely to sustain an overall destination 1, 3  and 5 years after they finished key stage 4. 

Students in Inner London and Outer London were most likely to sustain an education destination 1, 3 and 5 years after finishing key stage 4.

Types of destination

Education destinations

More than half of the students who had a sustained education destination were in a sixth form college or school sixth form a year after finishing key stage 4 study

School sixth forms or sixth form colleges were the most common education destinations one year after finishing key stage 4 (51.7%). An additional 33.8% of students were studying at a further education college and 0.9% were studying at another type of education institution.

Three years after finishing key stage 4 study, the most common destination was UK higher education institution (29.9%). Another 13.5% of students were at further education colleges, 4.1% were at a sixth form college or school sixth form and 0.3% were at another type of education institution.

An even greater proportion of students was studying at UK higher education institutions 5 years after finishing key stage 4 study (41.0%). Only 1.8% were studying at further education colleges at that point.

Apprenticeship destinations

When looking at destinations 1, 3, and 5  years after key stage 4, apprenticeship activity peaks in year 3 when almost 1 in 10 students were on an apprenticeship for at least 6 months of the year.

During the first year after key stage 4 study, 3.6% of students sustained an intermediate apprenticeship destination, while 1.2% sustained an advanced apprenticeship.

Advanced apprenticeships were the most common level of apprenticeship students took in years 3 and 5 after finishing key stage 4 (5.1% and 3.4%, respectively).

Provider type

Proportions of students staying in sustained destinations varied by provider type. Pupils leaving alternative provision were much less likely to be in a sustained destination 1, 3, and 5 years after key stage 4 compared to mainstream and special schools.

Out of pupils that ended key stage 4 in alternative provision, 56.0% had an overall sustained destination one year on, compared to 94.1% of state-funded mainstream school leavers. This gap grows wider at each subsequent measured period. In year 5, less than 3 in 10 alternative provision leavers had any kind of sustained activity, compared to almost 8 in 10 mainstream school leavers.

The gap between special school leavers and mainstream school leavers grew wider in year 5, where much lower proportions of special school key stage 4 leavers were in employment or apprenticeships.

 

Help and support

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.

Our statistical practice is regulated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

OSR sets the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics that all producers of official statistics should adhere to.

You are welcome to contact us directly with any comments about how we meet these standards. Alternatively, you can contact OSR by emailing regulation@statistics.gov.uk or via the OSR website.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Longer term destinations statistics and data:

Destination measures

Email: Destination.MEASURES@education.gov.uk
Contact name: Daniel Brown

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