Luton Destination Statistics: Where are our students going? – Part 2 – The characteristics bite back

As a follow-up to the new Destination Measures statistics that are now on the Dfe performance table website

(data for Luton High Schools here: )

and a previous blog about them here:

further data has now been released that distills from those figures the destinations for students who were eligible for Free Schools Meals (FSM), Special Educational Needs (SEN), Gender and by Ethnicity.


Before I do some amateur analysis it’s worth saying that for FSM & SEN data I won’t be comparing statistics at school level. There are two reasons for this:

1) The numbers of students in these categories are very small so, in some cases, just a difference of a few students can dramatically affect the percentage output. Of course this won’t stop some drawing conclusions but when the dataset is so tiny it can throw up outlying and disparate results very easily. I’ve discussed that happening here:*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&trk=NUS_DISC_Q-subject#commentID_152580024

2) I’d like to believe that IAG and the wider support mechanisms for students in schools don’t run on autopilot for certain students because they fall into particular boxes. We don’t accompany Justin down to the Sixth Form for a individual look around and chat because he’s an FSM student but because he’s Justin and, because of his personality, staff believe that would help him transition.


Luton wide there were around 460 students who left in 2010 who were FSM eligible and around 1900 non Free School Meal (NFSM) students. The percentages of both types of students who took different routes (FE College, Sixth Form etc) was pretty similar but the difference in the % of students who went to onto make a sustained transition is interesting. 92% of NFSM students managed to successfully make such a transition into Key stage 5 while a lower figure of 86% FSM students did so. Nationally these figures are 90% for NFSM students and 82% for FSM. So there is a little to cheer here, locally we are getting more of both groups to make successful transitions and also succeeded in closing the gap between the two from 8% national to 6% in Luton. It will be a continuing challenge for the town to both raise attainment levels for these students and ensure quality Careers IAG so that this gap continues to narrow.


For students designated as those with SEN the picture is more complex to compare. This mainly because of the differences in the numbers of students identified as SEN in each High School. In some of the High schools as few as 20 students in that year group were classed as SEN while Icknield designated 170 students (out of a year group of 280) in this category. I’m at a loss to explain why this is but this system seems to have been remedied as only 22 of their 2012 leavers are classified as SEN on the performance table data. Again, when compared to the national figures, the Luton statistics compare favorably with 85% of SEN students transitioning to a sustained destination while only 84% of School Action, 75% School Action Plus and 84 % of Statemented students achieved this.


In this category it is worth comparing school’s data as it the raw numbers are from a whole year group and there are some very interesting percentages. Looking at the different routes Boys took after Key Stage 4 it’s obvious 3 schools stand out. Over 60% of Boys from Challney Boys, Denbigh and Icknield go onto to study at Sixth Form College while for all other schools this figure is below 40%. This affects the number of males who go onto study at FE College from those schools with only 15% of Challney’s boys going there compared to over 50% of both Barnfield South & West males. Clues as to why this is can be found under the next heading.

For the Girls it is a much more uniform picture with more girls than boys from every school choosing the Sixth Form route.


The ethnicity characteristics of each school are as variable and diverse as the wards of the town they inhabit. The two Challneys and Denbigh have by far the highest % of Asian students with all three recording over 66% in that ethnic category for that year group. The next highest is is, yep, you’ve guessed it, Icknield with 32% of students classed as Asian which, perhaps, added to the parental expectation to follow traditional routes I wrote about in the previous blog, is a driver of the boy’s decisions.

Elsewhere comparing Luton wide destination statistics by ethnicity against other nearby Local Authorities is a pointless task because of the difference in school Sixth Form versus Sixth Form College. Luton’s results are wildly out of context when placed against other Authorities with the more traditional School Sixth Form versus FE College stand off. Within the town there are noticeable differences between ethnic groups which follow the emerging trend. 72% of Asian students go onto Sixth Form College while only 16% go onto FE College, 49% of Black students go onto Sixth Form College while 33% attend FE College and for White students a larger proportion (46%) go onto FE College than the 32% that go to Sixth Form.


These statistics add to a widely known evidence base of the qualification baseline and educational ambitions of the inhabitants of the town. They show that, if you are a white male you are significantly more likely to continue your education in a vocational pathway post 16 than if you are an Asian female. On the flip side, no matter your gender, if you have Asian heritage you are significantly more likely to attend Sixth Form and so continue your academic learning post 16.

Is either of those realities inherently wrong? Or a situation that needs to change? I feel it is unsuitable to judge but that does not mean impartial and independent IAG should step back from the act of challenging those realities. Engaging with parents, families and communities to provide information on all routes is the very least we can to do to offer young people a chance to find their path of best fit, no matter their background.


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s