More Scottish school leavers stay on in education

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image captionMore than 40% of Scottish school leavers went on to higher education in 2016/17

The percentage of Scotland's school leavers staying on in education has continued to rise while the numbers going into training continue to fall.

New figures showed the percentage signing up for university last year was 40.7%, up from 37.8% six years ago.

A total of 26.8% opted for a college course - up 0.1% on 2011/12.

However, the percentage of school leavers going into training has steadily fallen from 4.5% in 2011 to 2.4% in 2016.

According to official statistics, there has been a year-on-year reduction in the percentage of leavers who are unemployed and seeking work or training.

In 2011/12, there were 8.25% who fell into this category, while in 2016/17 that figure was recorded at 4.5%.

The latest figures show that almost a quarter, 22%, have taken up employed work, down slightly on the previous year but up by 2.2% on 2011/12 figures.

School leavers who are engaged in higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment and activity agreements are classified as having a "positive destination".

The statisticians also say that for school leavers living in the most deprived areas, the percentage in a positive destination has increased from 83.9% in 2011/12 to 89.6% in 2016/17.

For school leavers living in Scotland's most affluent areas, the percentage in a positive destination has increased from 95.1% in 2011/12 to 96.6% in 2016/17.

This latest data was recorded in October 2017, approximately three months after the youngsters left school.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "It is vital that every young person leaving school has the opportunity to make the choice that is right for them - whether that be university or college, training or a job.

"Today's statistics show a record proportion of leavers in an initial positive destination and, in particular, a welcome increase to another record in those leavers from the most deprived backgrounds going on to a positive destination."

'Pursue radical measures'

However, the Scottish Conservatives said the statistics showed that the Scottish government had made "very little progress" on closing the attainment gap.

Their education spokeswoman, Liz Smith, said: "The SNP has completely failed to enable the most disadvantaged children to have the same opportunities as their wealthier counterparts when they leave school.

"Higher education is not the only choice for school leavers, but these figures demonstrate that students from poorer backgrounds are much less likely to take this path.

"This has to change, the SNP must pursue the radical measures necessary to make that change."

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