Gap widens between richest and poorest school leavers

The gap was 7.5% in 2022-23, up from 7% for the school year before.

Gap widens between richest and poorest school leavers in ‘positive destinations’ in Scotland Getty Images

The gap between the richest and poorest school leavers in Scotland has widened in the past year, figures show.

Statistics released by the Scottish Government on Tuesday show 92.8% of school leavers were in education, training or employment nine months after the end of their final school year in 2022-23.

The figure is down slightly from the previous year, when 93.5% were in so-called positive destinations.

The latest data also shows a widening of the gap between those from the richest backgrounds and those from the poorest.

According to the figures, 88.9% of those in the most deprived 20% of areas were in a positive destination, compared to 96.4% from the most affluent areas – a gap of 7.5%.

In the year before, the gap was 7% – when 89.7% of those from the poorest areas reported being in a positive destination compared to 96.7% of their more affluent counterparts.

Those from the least well-off areas were also more likely to be unemployed and looking for work, at 6.7%, compared to 1.7% of those who were more wealthy.

Overall, the highest proportion of school leavers in 22/23 went on to university, with 37.1% in higher education, followed by 31.2% in employment and 21.2% attending college.

The proportion who were unemployed and seeking work also increased year-on-year from 3.4% to 3.7%, as did the proportion unemployed and not looking for a job – from 2.4% to 2.6%.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Earlier this year we published our highest ever initial destinations figure for our 2023 school leavers, and 95.1% of school leavers have sustained these positive destinations.

“Notwithstanding, the decline in school leavers in positive follow-up destinations – that is nine months after leaving school – is a concern to ministers.

“This is the cohort of young people whose entire secondary education was disrupted by the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, so it is important to recognise that impact.

“Ministers will continue to engage with (local government body) Cosla on these statistics, recognising their responsibilities for the statutory delivery of education locally, and with our colleges and wider partners.”

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