How our school leavers fare - by school and by postcode

View School leaver data for every school in a full screen map

By Kathryn Torney

AS thousands of pupils await news of their A-Level results next week, The Detail can reveal the wide variation in the qualifications achieved and next steps taken by Northern Ireland’s school leavers.

We have carried out a detailed analysis of the Department of Education’s annual School Leavers’ Survey (SLS) relating to the 22,568 pupils who left school last summer.

Overall school leaver statistics were released by the department in May of this year. We lodged a Freedom of Information request asking for the data recorded by each post-primary school and also a breakdown of the figures by the pupils’ residential postcode.

The full figures released to us by the Department of Education are available in full below this article.

Each post-primary school must record each pupil’s exam performance and the next destination for the school leavers – a higher education institution (universities and teacher training colleges), a further education institution, training/employment or if they are unemployed/unknown.

The SLS data also contains characteristics for each young person including their ethnicity, religion and whether they have special educational needs.

The data excludes special and independent schools.

Only one main destination is recorded per pupil. For example they may have gone on to university and this is recorded as their ‘destination’ but they could also be in part-time employment at the same time.

Our key findings include:

  • 7,373 of the total 22,568 school leavers were in Year 12 – therefore aged just 16 – when they left the school system. This is a third (33%) of the total.
  • At grammar schools, the percentage of pupils going on to higher education (universities and teacher training colleges) ranged from 94% to 40%.
  • An average of 5.8% of all school leavers were recorded by their former schools as unemployed or their destination was unknown. However, in one school it was 44% and nine schools recorded 20% or more of their leavers as being unemployed/unknown.
  • 76% of the school leavers living in Belfast’s BT9 (Malone, Lisburn Road, Taughmonagh and Stranmillis) went on to higher education – compared to just 19% of the children living in Belfast’s BT13 (Shankill Road, Woodvale, Ballygomartin, Springmartin, Glencairn and Highfield) and 21% of those living in BT12 (Falls Road, Sandy Row and The Village).

In June we reported on the supply and demand for places in Northern Ireland’s post-primary schools – click here. And in November last year, we revealed the 2011/12 exam performance of all of the schools – click here.

The breakdown

The breakdown

THE DEPARTMENT’S KEY FINDINGS AND HOW INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS COMPARE

In May, the Department of Education issued a statistical press release which presented an overall analysis of GCSE and A-Level examination performance and destinations for pupils who left post-primary schools in 2011/12.

This shows, of all of the leavers:

  • 62% achieved at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C or equivalent including GCSE English and maths. However, this was 94% of grammar school pupils – compared to 39% of non-grammar school leavers. And only 20% of Protestant boys entitled to free school meals achieved this level – compared to 33% of Catholic boys entitled to free meals.
  • 36% of leavers had achieved 3 or more A Levels A*-C.
  • 1.8% young people (406) left school with no GCSEs – compared to 3.6% in 2007/08.
  • 42% continued on to higher education institutions and 35% went on to FE colleges. However, 73% of grammar school pupils went on to HE, compared to 20% of leavers from non-grammars.
  • 5.8% of all school leavers were recorded by their former schools as unemployed or their destination was unknown. For pupils entitled to free school meals this figure was 11% compared to 5% for those not entitled to free meals. And 7.8% of non-grammar pupils – compared to 3% from grammars.

The data we requested from the department enabled us to look at the figures at individual school level.

Grammars:

The percentage of pupils going on to higher education (universities and teacher training colleges) ranged from 94% at the all girls’ schools Strathearn School in Belfast and Our Lady’s Grammar in Newry down to 40% of pupils at all boys’ school Coleraine Academical Institution where 32% of the pupils (39) left this school at the age of 16.

At nine grammars, 15% or more of the pupils left after Year 12 rather than continuing on at the same school for A-level study.

Coleraine Academical Institution was the grammar with the highest percentage of pupils going on to further education institutions – 50%. This was closely followed by 47% of the pupils who left Wellington College in Belfast going on to FE.

None of the pupils from Thornhill College in Derry or Strathearn in Belfast went on into employment or training – compared to 15% of the leavers from St Michael’s College in Enniskillen. The majority of the Thornhill and Strathearn pupils went on to higher education.

Dominican College in Belfast was the grammar with the highest percentage of pupils recorded with an unemployed/unknown destination at 12%. This was followed by 11% of the pupils who left Belfast’s Campbell College being in this category.

Destination outcome also varied dramatically between some grammars based in the same area.

For example in Enniskillen, 61% of St Michael’s College’s pupils went on to higher education – compared to 90% of the pupils from Collegiate Grammar going on to HE. Almost 16% of St Michael’s pupils went on to further education, 15% to employment/training and almost 9% had a destination recorded as unemployed/unknown.

In Derry, 92% of the 114 pupils who left Lumen Christi College went on to university – compared to 50% of the 229 pupils who left St Columb’s College. Almost 36% of the St Columb’s College pupils went on to further education.

A third of the children leaving Northern Ireland schools last year were aged 16

A third of the children leaving Northern Ireland schools last year were aged 16

Non-grammars:

St Catherine’s College in Armagh was the non-grammar with the highest percentage of leavers in 2011/12 going on to higher education (62%). This was followed by St Patrick’s Co-ed Comprehensive College in Maghera at 61%.

Forty-seven of the 145 non-grammars had no pupils going on to study at higher education institutions. In 38 of these schools, all of the pupils left at age 16 after Year 12. And 16 schools had at least 75% of their pupils going on to FE.

All of the 12 pupils who left Garvagh High – which closes at the end of this month – and 96% of the 23 pupils who left St Columba’s College in Portaferry went on to a further education institution.

All of the leavers from four of the non-grammars went into employment/training – Tandragee Junior High (only six leavers), Clounagh Junior High in Portadown (10 leavers), St Patricks and St Brigids High in Claudy and St Paul’s Junior High in Craigavon.

In the Craigavon/Lurgan area an alternative transfer system, known as the ‘Dickson Plan’, currently operates. In this system pupils automatically transfer from primary to junior high school at age 11 years and academic selection is delayed until the age of 14 years when some pupils transfer into grammars.

St Colman’s High in Ballynahinch was the school with the highest percentage of leavers recorded as unemployed/unknown – 44%. Fifty-nine children left this school. 14% went on to higher education, 20% went to further education and 22% into employment/training.

Seventeen other non-grammars had no pupil leavers recorded in the unemployed/unknown category.

DEPRIVATION AND SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS

Free school meal (FSM) entitlement is used as a proxy measure of the levels of deprivation experienced by a school’s population. There is known to be a link between FSM entitlement and exam performance.

The 51 schools with 30% or more of their pupils entitled to free school meals are all non-grammar schools.

St Peter’s High in Derry had the highest FSM entitlement at 65%. Seventy-two percent of the pupils who left this school in 2011/12 went on into FE, 15% went into employment/training and 13% were recorded as unemployed/unknown. St Peter’s is due to close at the end of this month.

At Orangefield High in Belfast, 59% of the leavers were entitled to free meals. Of these pupils, 80% went into employment or training and 11% went on to further education. Less than five pupils are recorded with the destination of unemployed/unknown.

Some schools with few or no pupils entitled to free meals, recorded very different destination outcomes.

At Belfast’s Campbell College none of the leavers were entitled to free meals – 50% went on to university, 30% to further education and 11% are recorded as unemployed/unknown.

At Down High in Downpatrick only 3% of leavers were entitled to free meals – 92% of these young people went on to university and none were unemployed/unknown.

Eighty-five percent of the 46 pupils who left St Joseph’s College in Enniskillen had special educational needs – 13% are recorded as unemployed/unknown, 39% went on to FE, 13% to HE and 35% into training or employment.

At St Gemma’s High in Belfast, 84% of the 31 leavers had special educational needs. None of these pupils were recorded as unemployed/unknown, 52% went on to FE, 23% to university and 26% were in employment or training.

WHERE YOU LIVE DOES MATTER

View School leaver data by home postcode in a full screen map

We also asked for a qualification and destination breakdown by the pupils’ home postcode area.

The percentage of school leavers who were aged just 16 – the youngest age a child can leave school – ranges from 56% of leavers living in BT53 (Ballymoney, Dervock, Armoy and Ballybogy) and BT62 (Craigavon, Portadown, Tandragee, Clare and Scotch Street) to just 6% for those 195 school leavers with a home address in Belfast’s BT9 (Malone, Lisburn Road, Taughmonagh and Stranmillis).

Only 39% of the 484 children who left school in 2011/12 living in BT62 or BT65 (Craigavon, Drumgor, Legaghory, Tullygally and Brownlow) stayed on until the end of year 14 – compared to 93% of the 15 school leavers from BT77 (Augher, Dungannon and South Tyrone) and 90% of the young people living in BT9.

The largest number of school leavers had homes based in BT48 in Derry (Cityside, Ballynagard, Coshquin, Rosemount, The Collon and Culmore) where 990 children lived who finished school in 2011/12.

Only 13 children living in BT68 (areas of Caledon, Minterburn, Dungannon and South Tyrone) left school last year.

Belfast city centre postal areas BT1, BT2 and BT3 were excluded from our dataset by the Department of Education due to them having so few school leavers resident.

The Programme for Government has set a target for 66% of all young people to achieve at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and Maths by the time they leave school, by 2014/15.

While the department states that this currently stands at an average of 62% for all school leavers, our figures show that many postcode areas of Northern Ireland have a long way to go to individually reach this important goal.

Only 23 of the 77 postcode areas we have data for currently met or exceeded the 66% target in 2011/12. The highest was BT9 in Belfast at 91%, followed by BT77 (Augher, Dungannon and South Tyrone) at 87%.

In Belfast’s BT13 (Belfast, Shankill Road, Woodvale, Ballygomartin, Springmartin, Glencairn and Highfield) and BT12 (Falls Road, Sandy Row and The Village) only 35% of school leavers living in these areas met the target.

The Programme for Government also has a separate less ambitious target that less than half (49%) of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds should be achieving at least five good GCSEs (A*-C) including English and Maths by 2014/15. In 2011/12, 34% of school leavers entitled to free meals achieved this.

Neighbourhood Renewal Areas in Northern Ireland are those which have been identified as suffering from the highest levels of deprivation.

Of the 36 postcodes in our dataset based in a Neighbourhood Renewal Area, only four failed to meet the target of 49% (BT12, BT13, BT64 and BT65).

Looking at the destination by pupils’ home postcode, the largest proportion of children going to university were the school leavers living in Belfast’s BT9. Here 76% of the school leavers went on to university in 2011/12.

The next highest was 71% of the 106 children living in BT26 (Hillsborough, Annahilt, Culcavy, Lisburn).

This is a stark contrast to just 19% of the children living in Belfast’s BT13 (Shankill Road, Woodvale, Ballygomartin, Springmartin, Glencairn and Highfield) and 21% of those living in BT12 (Falls Road, Sandy Row and The Village).

The postcode area with the highest percentage of pupils going on to further education was BT64 (Craigavon, Knockmenagh and Mandeville) at 59%. Although only 29 pupils living in this area left school in 2011/12.

Only 15% of the pupils living in BT9 went on to FE.

Looking at the numbers going into employment and training after school, the highest percentages were in BT13 (39%) and BT12 (36%). Again, BT9 was the lowest in this category at 6%.

406 pupils left school last year with no GCSEs

406 pupils left school last year with no GCSEs

The five postcode areas with the highest percentages of young school leavers recorded as having a destination of unemployed/unknown are all Neighbourhood Renewal areas. They are BT12 (15% unemployed/unknown), BT13 (14%), BT15 (12%), BT14 and BT11 (both 11%).

The unemployed/unknown figure in Belfast’s BT12 (Falls, Sandy Row, The Village) is close to three times that of the Northern Ireland average for school leavers in 2011/12 (5.8%).

None of the school leavers living in five of the postcode areas reported being unemployed – BT77 (Augher, Dungannon and South Tyrone), BT76 (Clogher, Dungannon and South Tyrone), BT69 (Aughnacloy, Carnteel, Dungannon and South Tyrone), BT55 (Portstewart and Coleraine) and BT57 (Bushmills, Castlecatt, Dunseverick, Portballintrae and Moyle).

Of all pupils who finished school last year, 1.8% left with no GCSEs.

However, a much higher 5% of the pupils living in BT52 (nine children) left with no GCSEs. This postcode covers the areas of Coleraine, Ballyvelton and Cloyfin.

Ten other postcode areas had 3% or more of their leavers achieving no GCSEs.

The area with the largest number of children achieving no grades was BT48 in Derry (Cityside, Ballynagard, Coshquin, Rosemount, The Collon and Culmore) where 28 children left with no qualifications.

© The Detail 2013