Chapter 3: Attainment
- 61.7 per cent of leavers left with one or more passes at SCQF Level 6 or better - up from 60.2 per cent for 2014/15.
- 2.0 per cent of school leavers attained no passes at SCQF Level 3 or better - slightly lower than 2014/15 (2.1 per cent).
- Around 96 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 3 or above.
- Similarly 96 per cent of leavers attained numeracy at this level - similar to 2014/15.
3.1 SCQF Framework & National Qualifications
Qualifications in Scotland are based on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF). There are 12 levels on the framework, SCQF Levels 1 to 7 are covered by school education. The SCQF levels are shown below for information.
|Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF) levels:|
|Level 7||Advanced Higher at A-C|
|Level 6||Higher at A-C|
|Level 5||Intermediate 2 at A-C; National 5 at A-C; Standard Grade (Credit)|
|Level 4||Intermediate 1 at A-C; National 4; Standard Grade (General)|
|Level 3||Access 3; National 3; Standard Grade (Foundation)|
|Level 2||Access 2; National 2|
The new National qualifications, and formerly Standard Grades
and Intermediates, make up
levels 3 to 5. Standard Grades had three award levels: Foundation (
Level 3), General (
Level 4) and Credit (
Level 5). Standard Grades were supplemented with Intermediate 1 (
Level 4) and Intermediate 2 (
Level 5). Since 2013/14, under
qualifications are being phased out and replaced with National 3, 4
and 5 qualifications. There were no Standard Grade qualifications
available in 2013/14 and Intermediates ceased to exist from
2015/16. In addition, new Highers were introduced from 2014/15 and
new Advanced Highers from 2015/16. Therefore the 2015/16 cohort of
leavers is the third to include young people that have taken the
new National qualifications but it also includes leavers that have
taken the previous qualifications. Further information on the new
qualifications can be found at:
For most young people S4 is the last compulsory year of school, but the majority choose to stay on and complete S5 and S6 (see Table 1). Highers ( SCQF Level 6) are generally taken in S5/S6; Highers, sometimes along with Advanced Highers ( SCQF Level 7, usually taken in S6), are the qualifications required for entry into Higher Education.
Under CfE, schools and their partners are able to offer greater personalisation and choice in the senior phase (S4 to S6) in a range of ways, for example by: designing the senior phase as a three year experience rather than planning each year separately; delivering qualifications over a variable timeframe in response to young people's needs and prior achievements; and developing pathways for able learners which bypass qualifications at lower levels to allow more time to be spent on more challenging learning at higher levels. Developing the Young Workforce (see background note 7.7) has built upon this and has strengthened partnerships between schools, colleges, employers and other providers to increase the range of options and pathways on offer to young people.
With more choices available in the senior phase, young people are also taking a range of vocational qualifications, including National Certificates, Higher National Qualifications, Scottish Vocational Qualifications, National Progression Awards and Skills for Work qualifications, alongside their National Qualifications. These provide a valuable route into Further Education ( FE), Higher Education ( HE), training or employment.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA) release pre-review results data in August each year and post-review data in December. Information is available by level ( e.g. Higher) and subject, and also for unit attainment and for wider achievement, for example in SQA Awards. This data is available on the SQA website for all centres and all learners combined ( http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/48269.html). The attainment data used in this publication is based on SQA post-review data and is matched to school leaver destination data and to pupil characteristics.
3.2 Attainment of school leavers
Table 4 shows that 36.3 per cent of school leavers, from 2015/16, left with one or more passes at SCQF Levels 3 to 5 as their highest qualification. A small proportion (2.0 per cent) of school leavers attained no passes at SCQF Level 3 or better, while 61.7 per cent left with one or more passes at Higher or Advanced Higher ( SCQF Levels 6 and 7).
Table 4. Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved, 2011/12 to 2015/16
|No passes at SCQF 3 or better||1.8||1.5||1.7||2.1||2.0|
|SCQF level 3||2.4||2.2||2.0||1.7||1.7|
|SCQF level 4||14.3||13.6||12.0||11.0||10.7|
|SCQF level 5||25.8||26.9||26.2||24.9||23.9|
|SCQF level 6||38.2||38.1||39.8||41.4||42.6|
|SCQF level 7||17.6||17.6||18.3||18.8||19.1|
|Number of leavers||49,745||51,647||51,416||52,491||52,305|
Table 5 shows more information on the attainment of leavers at each SCQF level. It shows the number of awards leavers have at that level or better. This table uses the latest and best method (see background note 7.2.1), i.e. only a pupil's highest achievement in each subject is included. For the majority of SCQF levels and number of awards, the percentage of leavers attaining that level of performance has improved since 2010/11. For example:
- the percentage of leavers attaining one or more award at SCQF Level 6 or better has been increasing (61.7 per cent in 2015/16 - up from 55.8 per cent in 2011/12) - this is the level that has seen the biggest increase over this period; and
- there were also increases in the percentage of leavers attaining greater numbers of awards at most SCQF levels over that period.
Table 5. Leaver attainment by SCQF level and number of awards achieved at that level or better, percentage of leavers, 2011/12 to 2015/16
|1 award or more||2 awards or more||3 awards or more||4 awards or more||5 awards or more||6 awards or more||7 awards or more|
|2015/16 SCQF Level|
|3 or better||98.0||96.7||95.0||93.1||90.2||84.7||73.0|
|4 or better||96.3||94.2||92.2||89.8||86.4||80.6||69.0|
|5 or better||85.6||78.1||71.4||64.1||56.0||47.2||37.1|
|6 or better||61.7||51.8||44.3||37.2||29.7||19.0||9.1|
|2014/15 SCQF Level|
|3 or better||97.9||96.8||95.4||93.8||91.5||87.0||79.3|
|4 or better||96.2||94.4||92.5||90.2||86.6||81.3||72.9|
|5 or better||85.2||77.4||70.5||63.6||56.2||48.5||40.2|
|6 or better||60.2||50.1||42.6||35.7||28.6||18.4||8.5|
|2013/14 SCQF Level|
|3 or better||98.3||97.4||96.2||94.9||93.1||90.2||85.9|
|4 or better||96.3||94.3||92.0||89.2||85.4||80.2||73.7|
|5 or better||84.3||76.3||69.6||63.3||56.5||48.9||40.9|
|6 or better||58.1||48.6||41.5||35.1||28.1||17.9||8.3|
|2012/13 SCQF Level|
|3 or better||98.5||97.7||96.7||95.7||94.3||92.1||88.1|
|4 or better||96.3||94.0||91.3||88.0||83.8||78.9||72.6|
|5 or better||82.7||74.1||67.5||61.3||54.6||47.2||39.2|
|6 or better||55.8||46.5||39.2||32.8||25.9||16.1||6.8|
|2011/12 SCQF Level|
|3 or better||98.2||97.3||96.1||95.1||93.5||91.2||87.0|
|4 or better||95.8||93.3||90.4||87.0||82.9||78.0||71.8|
|5 or better||81.6||73.1||66.7||61.0||54.6||47.5||39.8|
|6 or better||55.8||46.8||39.7||33.4||26.2||16.4||7.0|
3.3 School leaver attainment by pupil characteristics
By linking with the pupil census, the attainment of leavers can be analysed by pupil characteristics. Table 6 shows that girls are continuing to outperform boys at SCQF Levels 4 to 6. Pupils recorded as Asian-Chinese continue to have the highest level of achievement, as around 92 per cent achieve one or more awards at SCQF Level 6 or better. Pupils from less deprived areas continue to reach a higher level of achievement than their more deprived peers. The table shows a general improvement in attainment across the majority of groups.
Table 6 also suggests that the percentage of all leavers achieving one or more award at SCQF Level 4 or better has remained fairly stable at around 96 per cent, but the percentage of these leavers able to achieve an award at a higher SCQF level has increased.
Table 6. Percentage of school leavers by attainment at SCQF Level 4 to 6, by pupil characteristic, 2014/15 and 2015/16
|1 or more
level 4 or
|1 or more at SCQF level 5 or better||1 or more at SCQF level 6 or better||1 or more
level 4 or
|1 or more at SCQF level 5 or better||1 or more at SCQF level 6 or better|
|White - Scottish||96.3||85.0||59.8||96.3||85.4||61.1|
|White - non-Scottish||94.7||84.2||58.7||96.1||85.6||62.3|
|Mixed or multiple ethnic groups||96.5||89.5||68.0||96.4||88.9||72.2|
|Asian - Indian||98.6||92.1||71.6||98.7||94.2||76.5|
|Asian - Pakistani||97.9||89.7||71.1||99.0||92.1||73.2|
|Asian - Chinese||99.4||95.4||88.0||99.5||96.4||91.8|
|Asian - Other||96.6||90.9||77.7||97.8||92.2||76.9|
|African/ Black/ Caribbean 2||98.9||93.8||74.6||99.7||95.4||76.6|
|All other categories 3||96.3||85.1||62.1||94.3||82.9||61.7|
|Not Disclosed/Not known||93.0||81.5||53.2||93.6||79.9||55.7|
|Large Urban Areas||95.8||84.6||60.3||96.1||85.4||62.1|
|Other Urban Areas||96.1||84.6||59.0||96.2||84.9||60.2|
|Accessible Small Towns||97.1||87.3||64.1||96.8||86.9||64.2|
|Remote Small Towns||96.3||85.5||58.6||96.1||86.2||60.8|
|0-20% (Most Deprived)||92.6||74.0||41.2||92.8||74.4||42.7|
|80-100% (Least Deprived)||98.9||94.9||80.3||98.8||94.7||81.2|
|Additional Support Needs 5|
1. The categories used to collect ethnicity and national
identity data changed in the 2011 pupil census to agree with the
categories used in the main population census. This means they are
not directly comparable with information collected in previous
years and 'White -
UK' and 'White - Other'
could not be calculated for more recent years. Some categories have
been grouped together due to small numbers. Some categories contain
between 100-200 leavers.
2. For 2014/15 and 2015/16 the 'African/ Black/ Caribbean' category includes 'African', 'African - Other', and the 'Caribbean or Black' categories.
3. For 2014/15 and 2015/16, 'All other categories' includes 'Other - other' and 'Other - Arab'.
4. Based on SIMD 2012 for 2014/15 and 2015/16. More information on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/SIMD.
5. Pupils who have a CSP, IEP, Child's Plan are assessed or declared disabled or have another need.
3.4 Literacy and numeracy
Literacy and numeracy are key skills for any leaver, irrespective of the destination they are aiming for. Literacy is taken to be the ability to communicate by reading, writing, and listening and talking. Numeracy is defined to be the ability to use numbers in order to solve problems by counting, doing calculations, measuring, and understanding graphs and charts.
A range of courses are included in the literacy and numeracy measures. They are selected based upon the outcomes and assessment standards for SQA's literacy and numeracy units at National 3, 4 and 5, with the key criterion being that the main purpose of the qualification or award is to improve literacy and/or numeracy skills. A 'best fit' rather than 'exact match' approach is used. For example see background note 7.2.1.
Chart 4 shows the percentage of 2015/16 leavers attaining literacy and numeracy at SCQF Levels 3 to 5 or above.
Around 96 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 3 or above. Similarly, 96 per cent of leavers attained numeracy at this level. At SCQF Levels 4 and 5, more leavers attain literacy skills at this level than numeracy skills, 94 per cent of leavers attained literacy at SCQF Level 4 whilst 90 per cent attain numeracy skills at SCQF Level 4 or better. There is a similar trend at SCQF Level 5 or above, with 79 per cent of leavers attaining literacy at SCQF Level 5 or above, whilst 70 per cent attain this level in numeracy. Comparing with the attainment of 2014/15 leavers in Table 7, the percentage of leavers attaining literacy and numeracy at SCQF Level 5 or above has increased (from 75 to 79 per cent of leavers for literacy, and 63 to 67 per cent for numeracy).
Trends for literacy and numeracy may be slightly affected by unit attainment and the replacement of Standard Grades. When looking at achievement in literacy and numeracy, a pass in relevant units (rather than full qualifications, for example) can count as passing literacy or numeracy at that level. Standard Grade courses were not unit based so a pupil would have to pass the course in order to achieve literacy or numeracy at that level, whereas with unit based courses, a pupil who did not pass the course but achieved all the units would be counted as passing literacy or numeracy at that level.
Chart 4. Percentage of leavers attaining
Levels 3 to 5 in literacy and numeracy, 2015/16
Table 7. Leaver attainment in literacy and numeracy by SCQF level, percentage of leavers, 2013/14 to 2015/16
|SCQF Level||2012/13 a||2013/14||2014/15||2015/16||2012/13 a||2013/14||2014/15||2015/16|
|3 or better||96.9||96.8||96.5||96.5||96.9||96.7||96.3||96.1|
|4 or better||93.3||93.3||93.9||94.1||80.7||83.8||88.1||89.9|
|5 or better||67.2||70.1||74.6||79.0||56.6||59.5||62.7||66.9|
1. Caution should be exercised when making comparisons over time. See previous paragraph for more information.
3.5 School level information
School level information, including attainment on a consistent
basis as available through Insight (a professional benchmarking
tool used by local authorities and schools), is available on
Parentzone Scotland. This facility on the Education Scotland
website replaces Scottish Schools Online, and tends to be updated
in spring each year with the most recent post-review data.
Email: Marion MacRury
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House