Over the last century, the nature of the data collected about staying on rates has changed a number of times, making it hard to interpret trends. The following graph shows the changes from the 1950s onwards.
Education: Historical statistics (Paul Bolton – 2012)
1953-1970: data compare cohorts, i.e. the number of 16 year olds in 1960 compared to 13 year olds three years previously.
Post 1970: data is for the percentage of the population in full-time education.
The change in the way ages were recorded for these figures was changed in the early 1980s. The result was a shift downwards in the staying-on rate for 16 year olds as the figures recorded a younger age for many pupils than was the case in the earlier data.
Major beaks in series
1963: Christmas leaving data abolished in England and Wales, only affects 15 year olds.
1980-81 onwards, age at preceding 31 August, previously 21 December was used.
Statistics of Education 1962 part one, Ministry of Education
Education statistics for the United Kingdom 1970, DES
Education and training statistics for the United Kingdom 2011 and earlier, DCSF