Scotland

Educational attainment at age 16

Key points

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Graph 1: Over time

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Graph 2: By level of deprivation

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Graph 3: School leavers

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Graph 4: By background

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Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the standard level tariff scores of the weakest performing fifth of pupils compared to the average, since educational performance of the least qualified pupils is best looked at both in terms of how that performance itself is changing and how it compares with the change in the average performance of all pupils.  Progress is being made on this indicator when the score for the lowest fifth is rising faster than the score for the average.

Tariff scores are calculated by converting the levels that pupils achieve in their Standard Grade and other national qualification exams into points.  Points can range from as high as 120 for an A at advanced higher, though this is very rare at age 16, to 38 for a Standard Grade 1 (roughly equivalent to a GCSE 'A' in England and Wales), 11 for a Standard Grade 5 (the first 'low grade') and 3 for a Standard Grade 7 (the lowest).

The second graph shows how average standard level tariff scores for pupils in the fifth of schools with the highest proportion of their pupils eligible for free school meals (a proxy for level of deprivation) compare with the scores for all pupils.

The third graph shows the qualification level for those leaving school with no more than Standard Grades and so provides a more detailed look at educational performance for those pupils who do not go on to obtain Highers (around half of all pupils).  This is a larger proportion of the population than the indicators are usually concerned with, but such concern is justified by the relatively high risk of unemployment and low pay faced by those with no more than Standard Grades. The data shows those with: no Standard Grades (SGs); with SG 5 or 6 (low grades); with SG 3 or 4 (middle grades) and with SG 1 or 2 (high grades).  This also provides an insight into why the tariff scores are changing as they are.

The data source for the first three graphs is the Scottish Government (the data is not publicly available).  The data is for publicly funded schools only (i.e. not independent schools).  Pupils based in special schools are excluded but pupils with special educational needs in mainstream classes are included.  The analysis includes attainment in both Standard Grades and equivalent courses (i.e. Access 3 clusters and Intermediate courses) and other national qualifications but does not include pupils' achievements in individual National Qualifications units, vocational courses or non-SQA accredited courses.  Note that around half of the pupils will be aged 16 at the end of S4 whilst the other half will be 15.

The fourth graph shows the proportion of 18-19 year-olds in 2005 who did not have any qualifications above Standard Grades, with the data broken down by parental social class.

The data source for the fourth graph is a once-off Scottish Government publication entitled Scotland's young people: findings from the Scottish School Leavers Survey.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  Qualifications data is collected by the Scottish Government Education Department and is based on data from all schools.

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