The DfE’s ‘Destinations data’ 2018 guidance outlines how destinations data and measures can be used to improve careers provision and outcomes for pupils.


Destinations data


Any information that is collected on pupils’ destinations, whether a proposed or actual destination, is referred to as destinations data. The information that schools collect on intended destinations is passed on to LAs, so that these LAs can fulfil their requirement to ensure pupils have an education or training placement to start in the September after they finish KS4.

Once this information is recorded on the National Client Caseload Information System (NCCIS), schools with sixth forms, colleges, and training providers should confirm, with LAs, the actual destinations for all 16 and 17-year-olds – this data will be sent to the DfE. Schools should work with their LAs to establish a clear process for the regular transfer of this information.

The advantage of this information is that it is timely and allows for quicker follow up action. Engaging with destinations data before a pupil leaves the school means that guidance can be provided based on their choices, to ensure they are making informed decisions.


Destinations measures


The information that the DfE takes from administrative datasets, e.g. school enrolments, is published as data in performance tables for use as an accountability tool. This information, known as destination measures, is published two years after an individual has completed KS4.

Destination measures record the number of young people who have been in a sustained destination for six months in the year following KS4 or 16-18 study. The data can help long-term strategy planning – it shows trends over time and highlights to schools how many of their pupils take different options and sustain those options, along with the number of pupils who do not have a sustained destination.


Making better use of destinations data


Increasing the use of destinations data can help to improve a school’s management information – it gives schools a better understanding of where their pupils go and what they do once they have left KS4; therefore, helping to determine if the careers provision the pupil was given was right for them.

Schools can also make better use of the data by:

  • Collecting more information than is available in published statistics, e.g. what employment area an apprenticeship is in.
  • Cross-referring the actual destination against the intended destination, to determine whether a pupil changed their mind and why.
  • Considering whether a pupil’s intended destination is appropriate for them, or whether it raises concerns that require intervention.
  • Publicising what their pupils have gone on to do, e.g. the number of those doing apprenticeships.

When using destinations data to review the effectiveness of careers provision, a school may consider following the steps in the example below.


What schools could do


Record the intended destinations of pupils


Consider whether the intended destinations are ‘appropriate’ for pupils


Provide further careers advice to those who have intended destinations considered ‘not appropriate’


Submit the intended destinations of pupils to the LA


Receive actual destinations data from the LA and cross-reference against intended destinations


Schools should be aware of pupils who are more at risk of being not in education, employment or training (NEET), e.g. those with SEND or LAC, and that they have support to ensure their intended destinations are appropriate.

An appropriate destination will be different for every pupil and is determined by a range of factors, for example attainment and aptitudes, subject choices, hobbies and interests, career aspirations, skills and talents, and the labour market.

Schools should ensure each pupil has considered the range of options available. An inappropriate destination could be one that matches poorly with a pupil’s interests, attainment and aptitudes. Consequently, good careers guidance can support pupils with making informed decisions.


Making better use of destinations measures


Destination measures can be used to review how effective a school’s careers provision has been to pupils after finishing KS4. When this information is accessed from performance tables, destinations be can used to compare careers provision with other local schools.

Destination measures are also useful for reviewing the destinations of disadvantaged pupils, compared to the whole cohort, and assessing whether a school’s curriculum, advice and guidance helps pupils to sustain their destinations.


Data collection and dissemination


Consent and data protection duties


As schools have a statutory duty to provide data to LAs, consent is not needed to collect this data; however, for schools to track a pupil’s destinations after 16-years-old, they will need to obtain consent from the individual. Schools should routinely seek consent from Year 11 pupils to collect and maintain information on them once they have left school.


School websites


The DfE encourages schools to publish destinations information on their website, providing links to the relevant sections in school performance tables.


Longer-term outcomes


Collecting information on the longer-term outcomes of pupils is an indicator for Gatsby Benchmark 3 – schools should follow these benchmarks to ensure they provide good careers provision – and can help schools to support their pupils in considering their future careers and preparing them for adult life. It can also help schools stay in touch with past pupils and build their alumni networks – this can help inform current pupils’ decisions around the different options available.


What’s next?


  • You can read the DfE’s ‘Destination data’ guidance here.
  • Review your current careers programme using destinations data and, if you decide to restructure it, use the eight Gatsby Benchmarks as a basis.
  • The documents in our resource pack can be used to promote careers education in your school and encourage pupils to consider different pathways.




DfE (2018) ‘Destinations data’


Related terms: careers guidance, gatsby benchmarks, post-16, college, apprenticeship, sixth form.