Miles better for first jobs

16th December 2005 at 00:00
The proportion of Glasgow pupils going straight into unemployment has fallen dramatically from 20 per cent in 2003-04 to just 12 per cent last year. And more are heading to university, turning around decades of underachievement.

The city, lambasted by some politicians and sections of the media for its low attainment and high post-school wastage rates, said these were "really important statistics because they are the product at the end of the line".

Better careers advice is credited with significant improvements. At the same time, more are finding a job immediately after school, with 27 per cent in work last year against 22 per cent in 2003-04.

The ratio of pupils going into full-time higher education rose from 18 per cent to 21 per cent, with corresponding figures for full-time further education of 22 per cent and 26 per cent, according to figures from the Scottish Executive.

Momentum from a number of initiatives is said to be making an impact. These include the Executive's Determined to Succeed programme and Glasgow's new learning communities structure of neighbourhood schools.

The Goals initiative, aimed at persuading youngsters from non-traditional backgrounds to enter higher education, is also believed to be changing outlooks.

Richard Barron, depute director of education, said Glasgow was particularly pleased with the numbers going into higher education and the significant decrease in unemployment - two areas the city had found difficult to influence in the past.

Steven Purcell, council leader, said: "The most important thing a school can do is give their students the confidence and opportunity to get into work, training or education to help them and their communities. One major difference has been the enhanced provision of careers advisers in a number of schools. Last year as education convener I backed headteachers getting this extra support and am pleased that this has delivered such strong results.

"While these are positive figures, they are only for one year and there are still too many young people going straight from school to unemployment. We know we have got much more to do to achieve this, but have made a very positive start."

While each secondary is entitled to some careers advice every week, a number of schools have supplemented this by using their own funding for extra sessions.

Under the Determined to Succeed programme, an employability and enterprise officer is now working in every new learning community - the cluster of pre-five establishments and primary schools linked with each of the city's 29 secondaries.

Mr Purcell said progression from primary to secondary was easier with this structure. "It also gives teachers and careers staff the chance to engage youngsters in planning for life after school at a much earlier age," he said.

There are still major disparities between schools on leaver destination statistics, largely along socio-economic lines. Hyndland Secondary, for instance, records 44 per cent of pupils as going into higher education, 33 per cent into FE, 4 per cent into training, 15 per cent into employment and 10 per cent into unemployment; Drumchapel High has 2 per cent going on to HE, 20 per cent into FE, 29 per cent into training, 21 per cent into employment and 18 per cent into unemployment.

Glasgow is expected to be one of the main beneficiaries of extra funding from the Executive targeted at areas of high deprivation as ministers bid to shift the stubbornly high national figure of young people who are not in employment, education or training (the NEET group). This sat at 14 per cent before the latest improvements in Glasgow.

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