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Inverclyde's positive destinations

Inverclyde Council, with one of the highest rates of deprivation, has soared up the league table of school leaver destinations.

The authority is now ranked joint third - alongside East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire and behind the Western Isles and Orkney - with 91.6 per cent of last year's 1,017 school-leavers going to "positive destinations".

Ian Fraser, Inverclyde's director of education, attributed the improved performance to a range of factors:

- more Inverclyde pupils are going into further and higher education because of better attainment, which in turn is freeing up more training and employment places for others;

- partnerships with Careers Scotland and local businesses are reducing the numbers not going into education, employment or training;

- and young people are being better monitored after they have left school by attendance officers and guidance teachers.

Figures issued by the Government this week showed school leavers are opting increasingly for a job rather than going to university. In 2006-07, school leavers entering employment rose by 2.1 per cent to 28.3 per cent, the highest for 15 years; the proportion entering FE or HE fell from just below 54 per cent in 2005-06 to under 53 per cent.

Separate statistics showed attendance rates have improved marginally, though 656,000 pupil days were lost last year through parents taking children out of school on holiday. Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills, told parents this practice was "unacceptable" unless under exceptional circumstances.

The overall attendance rate was 93.3 per cent in 2006-07, up from 93.1 per cent the previous year. In primaries, it was 95.3 per cent compared to 95 per cent in 2005-06, and in secondary, it was 90.6 per cent, compared to 90.4 per cent.

On average, each day around 7 per cent of the school population was absent - 22,200 were sick, 5,600 truanting, 3,600 on holiday, and 800 temporarily excluded.

Early intervention policies were key to addressing the fact that the poorest attendees were pupils from a deprived background, who had additional support needs, or who were in local authority care, said Ms Watt.

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