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Leavers spin out of sight

MINISTERS have played down two statistical reports from HMI's Audit Unit that were seized on by the Conservatives. Comparisons of school costs and leaver destinations will now take a back seat as indicators of school performance.

The figures on leavers show a fall of 1,500 last summer, down to 62,500, but a rise of 1 per cent in the numbers going straight into higher education, further education and jobs. Thirty per cent went into higher education, 26 per cent into employment, 19 per cent into further education and 10 per cent into training.

Sixteen per cent fall into other categories. They include young people taking a year out before university - an increasing trend, according to the Scottish Office - pupils from independent schools and those doing voluntary work.

Changes from last year reveal East Dunbartonshire (44 per cent) has been topped by East Renfrewshire (47 per cent) in numbers going into higher education. Orkney is next at 40 per cent.

Borders (31 per cent) has the largest percentage entering full-time further education, followed by the Western Isles (30 per cent) and Angus (26 per cent).

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