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Education: 16-year-old pupils opt to stay on at school

THREE-QUARTERS of 16-year-olds in England stay on at school or participate in some kind of further education, Regional Trends reveals. A decade ago, less than two-thirds did so. The figure shows little variation across the regions - in Scotland, the proportion is 76.8 per cent; and in Wales, 71.2 per cent.

In 1990-91, the report also reveals, one in ten pupils leaving school in England and Wales intended to go directly to degree courses or teacher training courses; and a quarter planned to go into other full time education. About 45 per cent in England intended to enter employment.

There is a wide variation in the size of schools across the UK. In Cumbria, for example, the average primary school has 136 pupils; in Newham, in east London, there are 359. The pattern in primary schools - of bigger schools in urban areas - is not so clear cut in secondary schools, where there appears to be no simple explanation for the size of individual schools. The average size of secondary school class, however, shows virtually no variation across the UK: the average attendance is around 21.

In terms of results, Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of students with three or more A-levels, but the region also has the highest number of students without any qualifications. The quality of education shows considerable regional variation. Three in every five girls in the South East, South West and Scotland passed GCSE English in 1991; in Wales, only half of the female candidates, and a third of the male, passed the exam. In Yorkshire and Humberside only a third of boys left school in 1991 with a GCSE pass in Maths - the lowest rate in the UK.