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Pupil Destinations 2021

The annual survey of school leavers undertaken by Careers Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government provides a useful snapshot of pupil destinations which informs careers staff in their work with clients, parents, teachers, and employers.

The data collected also proves an invaluable aid to partners and colleagues involved in planning learning, training, and employment opportunities.

This survey is compiled from data supplied by Careers Wales and looks at the education, employment and training progression routes chosen by young people. Further analysis is provided by pupils’ ethnicity and gender (where this information is available).

It is worth noting that, as in 2020, this year’s survey has taken place against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and pertains to those school-leavers who completed their Year 11, Year 12, and Year 13 studies during the pandemic and ongoing restrictions. As in 2020, no external examinations were taken in 2021 and results were awarded, on the basis of centre determined grades.

The survey reports the destinations of 55,387 pupils from secondary schools across Wales. It includes pupils who have reached statutory leaving age, Year 11, and pupils leaving school in Years 12 and 13. Pupils from special schools are included in the survey; those attending Further Education (FE) colleges and independent schools are not. Males account for 49% of the total cohort (27,113 individuals) and Females 51% (28,229 individuals). 45 pupils identified themselves in the other and prefer not to say category for gender. The destination information is recorded, as a result of the pupil’s known activity on 31st October 2021.

In order to ensure that the survey provides as full a picture as possible of school-leaver destinations, and that the number of non-respondents is as low as possible, Careers Wales relies on partner institutions sharing student enrolment and destination information. For the destination cohort of 2018, following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), it was not possible to agree data-sharing agreements with all FE institutions across the country in time for completion of the 2018 survey. This meant that the number of non-respondents that year was much higher than in previous years. As 2018 destination data was not comparable with previous or subsequent years, these reports no longer contain a narrative commentary related to trend data. If any comparisons were to be made, they would be likely to draw inaccurate conclusions.

The pandemic also complicates the comparability across years. The data for 2020 indicated a notable increase in those continuing in education which may be a result of the pandemic, thus making comparability with other years difficult.

Please note:

  • Percentages have been rounded and therefore may not always total 100%
  • National figures may mask variances at regional, local authority and institution level across all cohorts. Reports providing pupil destinations by local authority area are provided to support analysis at local level
  • Graphics may not be to exact scale and are for visual representation only
Data limitations

A note on trend data

Between 2012 and 2017 it was possible to track destinations data and identify trend data. As noted in the introduction, however, there were additional challenges in collecting the 2018 destination data, with an observed increase in non-response and variation within this by local authority. For that reason, the destination report for 2021, as has been the case with all reports since 2018, consists of a short summary of the data for 2021 and does not seek to establish any comparability with the existing time series and will therefore not comment on trends. The pandemic is also a complicating factor when it comes to comparing 2020 and 2021 to previous years. The summary will include local authority data but will not compare the data with previous years or across authorities.

However, is worth noting that the rate of non-respondents for Year 11 in 2021 is 1.1% (365 individuals) compared to 0.9% (263 individuals) in 2020, 1.1% (350 individuals) in 2019, 3.5% (1043 individuals) in 2018 and  0.5% (169 individuals) in 2017. For Year 12 in 2021 the figure is 1.1% (142 individuals) compared to 1.2% (147 individuals) in 2020, 2.2% (268 individuals) in 2019, 3.7% (482 individuals) in 2018 and 1.6% (220 individuals) in 2017. The figure for Year 13 in 2021 is 7.0% (764 individuals) compared to 4.2% (418 individuals) in 2020, 9.6% in 2019 (1011 individuals), 11.6% (1275 individuals) in 2018 and 3.7% in 2017 (436 individuals). With the exception of Year 13, the non-respondent rates for 2021 are similar to those seen pre-2018.

Having non-respondents skews the data relating to certain groups meaning that comparing across different years is likely to draw inaccurate conclusions. To illustrate, the Known Not to be in Education, Training or Employment figure in 2018 was the same as it was in 2017 at 1.6% (n.491 in 2017 compared to n.476 in 2018). However, the percentage of Year 11 leavers continuing in full-time education in 2018 was 1.8 percentage points lower than in 2017 (86.4% (n.25,626) compared to 88.2% (N.27,189)). Alongside non-respondents (up by 3 percentage points in 2018), these two categories represented the biggest differences across the two years. Whilst it might have been reasonable to surmise, in the absence of starter information from some FE colleges, that the majority of the non-respondents had continued in full-time education in FE, we cannot assume this is the case.


Most headings used in the destination reports are self-explanatory. However, the following may assist understanding.

Terms and their definitions
Full Time Education Those in education of more than 16 hours per week.
Further Education (FE) Further Education at a college, including post 16 Tertiary colleges, rather than in school 6th form (years 12 and 13)
Gap Year Only those on a formal gap year (i.e., have applied to UCAS and have deferred entry to Higher Education) are included in the gap year figures. Individuals who have not gone into Higher Education, but who are thinking of applying have been included under other relevant destinations (as at 31st October 2021).
Known not to be in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) This includes those unavailable for work and those unemployed. Young people in part time education (16 hours or less per week) were previously included in this category but have been recorded separately since 2009.
Left the area Those who are known to have left Wales.
Minority ethnic groups A combined total for Mixed White, Black Caribbean, Mixed White, Black African, Mixed White, Asian; Mixed Other, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Other Asian, Caribbean, African, Other Black, Chinese, Other Ethnic Group.
Part Time Education Those in part time education of 16 hours or less per week. These were previously included in the NEET category but have been recorded separately since 2009.
WBTYP Work Based Training for Young People
Work Based Training – employed status This includes Modern Apprenticeships and other Government supported training of employees.
Work Based Training – non employed status This includes all Government supported work-based training without employed status.
White A combined total for White British, White Irish, White Other.