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What students do after they leave the school can be an important indicator of the effectiveness of a school’s career education and guidance. Tracking students can be difficult and time consuming, but the results can indicate how well a school is equipping students for their first steps beyond school.

Collecting data

Most schools collect exit data, including each student’s destination intentions. Some schools contact students after they leave school to find out what they are doing. It is not necessary to attempt to contact all leavers. A representative sample can provide valid indicators. Tracking only those students who have been identified as at risk of not making successful transitions can provide rich evidence.

Interrogating data

Most schools use destinations data to report to senior management, boards of trustees and curriculum review committees. It is important to interrogate all evidence. For example:

  • student destinations follow traditional gender-specific patterns. What can the school do to broaden horizons for students?
  • a high proportion of students do not go to the work or study destination they gave in their exit survey. Can you improve processes for identifying students who probably need more support than they reveal?
  • students appear to follow pathways related to only a few school subjects. Do other subjects need to inform students of related learning and career pathways?
  • a certain proportion of school leavers went directly to work (or to degree studies, etc). What does this mean for curriculum offerings and career education and guidance priorities?
  • individuals whose time at school was characterised by poor attendance, low achievement or behaviour problems were more positive and successful after leaving school. Does this mean the school had a positive impact on them or was the school environment too inflexible to accommodate them?


Schools may be able to get assistance from external agencies to obtain and collate destinations data. Commercial software is available to assist schools to collate data. In some regions, business or economic development agencies provide information. Nationally, Youth Transition Services offer to register school-leavers for assistance beyond school and can provide data to schools about former students. Youth Transition Services is administered by the Ministry of Social Development.

Published on: 04 Aug 2009