School leavers on positive path

Published: Tuesday 2 June 2020

Picture shows a variety of smaller images depicting senior pupils in different roles including in school uniform, in a childcare role and sitting an exam.

Almost 96% of pupils who left school in South Lanarkshire last year moved on to further and higher education or employment.

The figure of 95.7%, which for the fifth year in a row is above the national average, was outlined in a report prepared for the Education committee earlier this month.

South Lanarkshire, the report revealed, has also seen a year-on-year increase of the numbers of care experienced young people moving on to positive destinations.

The 2018/19 figure of 91.4% is almost 10% higher than the national average of 82.7%. Much of that success is as a result of partnership working across the public and third sector wherein vulnerable or hard to reach young people – up to the age of 19 - are offered tailored employability support via programmes such as ASPIRE*.

As a result, it was agreed to consolidate and secure the ongoing work of the programme by making permanent the current 16 temporary full and part-time posts.

Given the suspension of council committee business during the current public health situation, approval for this was granted under delegated powers by the council’s Chief Executive, in consultation with the leaders of the five political groups.

A total of 3,239 young people left school in South Lanarkshire in 2018/19 with Higher and Further education accounting for almost seven in 10 of the destination choices, with a further two in 10 finding work. During 2019, there were 742 young people referred to ASPIRE.

Councillor Katy Loudon, Chair of the Education Committee, said: “South Lanarkshire has a strong ‘Opportunities for All’ partnership group through which all school leavers are supported into learning or employment post-school. When this is not achievable other supports are put in place to meet the individual needs of the young people, through bespoke programmes such as ASPIRE.

“What is most encouraging is the positive impact this work has had on the destinations of care experienced young people. This year’s rate for those moving on to work or education is significantly higher than the national figure and continues a trend of year on year improvement totaling almost 20% since 2015.

“To enable us to continue that trend, as well as widening the available opportunities, I am also delighted that the coming year will see the roll out of a second pilot to support care experienced young people into employment with the council.”

The report further outlined the council’s commitment, together with its partners, to close the poverty related gap which for the most recent year of school leavers amounted to 4.9% between the most deprived 20% and least deprived 20%. The national average is 5.3%.

Councillor Loudon, added: “The Community Planning Partnership (CPP) has highlighted the need for all services to target resources towards tackling poverty and reducing inequalities and to strive to close the gap in outcomes for children and families from the 20% most deprived areas.  This is a key tenet both of the CPP, and of the council, and underlines everything we strive to do to create a fairer, more equal and supportive foundation for every young person.”

*The council has aligned funding from the Scottish Government’s, ‘No-one Left Behind’ and European Social Fund programmes and matched these to core Education budgets to fund the ASPIRE programme.