Destinations are positive for Borders school leavers

Six Student Chefs who will cook for Albert Roux
Six Student Chefs who will cook for Albert Roux

The Borders has leapt up the Scottish league table for school leavers going on to higher or further education, training or full-time work.

Last year 94.2 per cent of the 1,000 plus students who left Scottish Borders Council’s nine secondaries achieved this so-called “positive destination” – compared to a national average of 92.3 per cent.

This puts the region fourth out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities – up from 15th in 2013.

A report to SBC’s new education-themed executive last week revealed that 441 leavers (42.6 per cent) went up to university in 2014, compared to 38.6 per cent across Scotland, while 304 (28.7 per cent) found a college place (26.3 per cent nationally).

The number who found paid employment – 220 or 20.8 per cent – was just below the Scottish rate of 21.7 per cent, while those who embarked on work-related training (24 or 2.3 per cent) was also under the national average of 4.1 per cent.

Out of 1,059 local leavers, just 61 (5.8 per cent) – below the Scottish rate of 7.3 per cent – are unemployed and thus deemed not to have found a positive destination.

The best achieving school was Kelso High where, out of 107 leavers, 46 went to university, 31 took up a college place, 26 found work and two went into training to give an overall successful outcome rate of 98.1 per cent.

Next up was Galashiels Academy with 96.1 per cent, followed by Jedburgh Grammar (95.7 per cent) while propping up the league was Peebles High, the region’s largest secondary, with 90.6 per cent of its 203 leavers arriving at a positive destination.

The secondary with the highest proportion of leavers going to university was Earlston High, with 66 of the 131 departing students (50.4 per cent) getting a higher education place.

Propping up the university destination league with 11 pupils out of 58 leavers was Eyemouth High (19 per cent), although the coastal school saw 24 of its leavers (41 per cent) going directly into paid employment – by far the highest rate in the Borders. Councillors heard of the valuable work undertaken by Emma Fairley, SBC’s Opportunities for All co-ordinator, who matches job, training and learning opportunities against a range of provision available to leavers.

Since taking the Scottish Government-funded role two years ago, Ms Fairley has worked with schools to ensure early identification of – and help for – students who may struggle to find a positive destination.

Council leader David Parker said this week that by continuing this work and protecting devolved school management budgets, his administration aimed to further improve the “already high rate” of successful outcomes for Borders school leavers.