It is worth finding out where students go when they leave a school. This will tell you what kind of aspirations the school is instilling in its students and what kind of careers the school is preparing them for.


  • A school with a 6th form, where most students go on to university, is clearly an academic institution. Check university take up levels if your child is likely to be academic.
  • A school which has a variety of destinations for students, with or without a 6th form, some going on to FE or HE, taking academic and vocational subjects at college, students going on to employment, some beginning apprenticeships shows that the institution celebrates diversity, and encourages students of all abilities and aptitudes to flourish.
  • A school where very few students go on to FE or HE suggests an institution that is not academic, and it could suggest a school which has failed to foster ambition or a love of learning. A school where most students go on to work related courses suggests a vocational bias.However, this could be the right school for your child, if you think that they are more likely to succeed in an FE or HE vocational course.
  • Some students will not go on to FE or HE. It is important to find out what record your chosen school has in moving students straight into employment. If over 5% of leavers are unemployed, then that is a cause for concern.
  • A school where most of the students who do go on to FE or HE go to the same colleges and institutions suggests that clear progression routes have been established. This might be the right school for your child, if you feel they would lack confidence about going on to further or higher education, as they would be accompanied by students they knew following the same path. However, it could also be that the school has not fostered a sense of ambition in its students, and has given them rather provincial aspirations. It is a cause for concern if students just go to the local FE or HE institution, because they have not been given the confidence or information about the other options.
  • A school should have careers advice which helps students to choose the FE, HE or employment route which suits them best. The school should enable students to choose the right courses. Competition for students is keen in both the FE and HE sectors. It is important that schools provide their students with high quality objective advice to assist them in making informed decisions.
  • It is important to look at the careers and the FE and HE subjects students are choosing. If some subject areas are poorly represented, this suggests that those school departments are not fostering enthusiasm and aspiration in students.
  • A preponderance of destinations in one subject, for example, PE, BTECs in Leisure and Tourism, jobs in Leisure Centres, signings for football teams, and PE ‘A’ Levels, it shows that the school is strong in that curriculum area. A specialist school should have students pursuing the specialism at FE and HE.

Further Information


A school prospectus should carry a list of students’ destinations for the previous year.

Open Evening

Talk to the member of staff with responsibility for careers. Speak to some Year 11 students, or 6th formers. Ask them about their aspirations. Ask them which FE or HE institutions exstudents attend. Speak to a member of senior management about the destinations of students. Ask to speak to the current Head of Year 11 or the Head of 6th form. Ask them to tell you about the usual destinations of students.

Visit/Open Evening

If students are showing you round, ask them if they have older brothers and sisters who went to the school, who have now left. Ask what these siblings went on to do. Many schools will have a board displaying HE destinations.This may seem traditional but it shows the school takes a pride in where its students move on to after leaving.

Case Study


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