The Department for Education has recently released data on the retention rates in 16-19 school sixth forms for 2014/15. The retention rate is based on the number of students who started and completed a higher education course post-16. The headline figure is that, of the 1.5 million 16-19 courses started in state funded schools in the academic year 2014/15, 1.4 million were completed; this equates to a retention rate of 91%.
This represents a three percent drop in the retention rate from 2013/14. According to the DfE, this is most likely due to the increase in students taking on four (instead of the traditional three) A levels, and then dropping one of the subjects at a later date. Indeed, there was a rise of 7,900 students taking four A levels from 2013/14 to 2015/16; however, in 2013/14 students that took four A levels completed an average of 3.9 A levels compared to 3.6 A levels in 2014/15.
Overall, students were most likely to complete A level (94% for both male and female) and AS level courses (91% for both male and female) and least likely to complete applied GCE courses (male 89%; female 91%) and other qualifications (87% for both male and female).