Student destinations from Key Stage 5

Student destinations from Key Stage 5

Graph showing student destinations from Key Stage 5

November 2016


The Department for Education collates statistics on where students go after completing their studies. For students finishing Key Stage 5 (i.e. those entered for A Levels or other level 3 qualifications, mostly aged 17), a variety of options are available including further or higher education, employment, and other activities. This Data Byte examines the destinations of students who completed Key Stage 5 in the 2012-13 academic year.

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What does the chart show?

The left-hand side of the chart shows the institutions attended by students in Key Stage 5 during the 2012-13 academic year. These are split into state-funded schools, state-funded colleges (including further education colleges and sixth-form colleges), and independent schools. The right-hand section of the chart shows their destinations in the following academic year. The percentages under each label show the proportion of the whole cohort within each academic year; percentages have been rounded and so may not add up to 100%.

The width of the links in the diagram is proportional to the number of young people moving between each starting point and destination. Pink links indicate those young people continuing their formal education. These destinations are split between the top third of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), other higher education providers, and Further Education (FE) providers. The ‘top third of HEIs’ is a grouping defined by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills as ‘the top third of higher education institutions when grouped by mean UCAS tariff score from the top three A level grades of entrants’. Due to this definition the institutions within this category may change from year to year; however it typically includes the research-intensive Russell Group universities.

The links coloured dark blue are to any combination of employment or training. This includes various types of employment, traineeships, and other combinations of employment and training. Apprenticeships are education and training programmes combined with work experience; consequently young people undertaking an apprenticeship may be included in either the Employment or Education destinations. Approximately 5% of the 2013-14 cohort were on an apprenticeship.

Light blue links represent the destinations of young people who were either not in education or employment (NEET), who were recorded as participating in education or employment from August to July but did not have continuous participation from October to March (Unsustained), or who could not be traced to a destination the following year (Not captured).

Why is the chart interesting?

The chart shows that the majority of young people continue their education following Key Stage 5. It also highlights the differences in destinations of students from state-funded schools, colleges, and independent schools. Although roughly 60% of students from independent schools and state-funded schools go on to higher education, a significantly higher proportion from independent schools go to the top third of HEIs (49% compared to 26%).

Colleges show greater proportions of students moving on to Further Education and employment than schools. This is most likely due to the different types of qualifications they provide.

Further information

The data used to prepare this figure, as well as details on the methodology used to collect it, can be found on the UK government website:

Department for Education (2016) Improvements to destinations of key stage 5 students: time series. Official Statistics. improvements-to-destinations-of-key-stage-5-students-time-series.

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