Partnerships to support early school leavers: school-college transitions and winter leavers in Scotland

Jesus Canduela, Rachel Chandler, Ian Elliott, Colin Lindsay, Suzi Macpherson, Ronald McQuaid, Robert Raeside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the characteristics, destinations and progression routes of early school leavers - specifically 'exceptional entry winter leavers' - in Scotland. Exceptional entry allows students to enter college in the term before their statutory school leaving date - such young people attend college while formally remaining the responsibility of their school. Such arrangements represent an innovative model of supporting transitions to further education among a specific, potentially vulnerable client group, while also offering lessons for the development of school-college collaboration in other areas. Based on an analysis of official data, new survey research with schools and colleges, and in-depth case studies, this article identifies how schools and colleges work in partnership to support these early school leavers. We find that schools and colleges have developed a range of innovative approaches to engaging with winter leavers, and that the majority complete their programmes or achieve other positive end-of-year outcomes. However, the most disadvantaged young people remain least likely to progress. The article concludes by identifying lessons for good practice in school-college partnership-working and considering implications for policies to prevent young people from finding themselves not in employment, education or training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-362
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Education and Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • school leavers
  • employment
  • training
  • partnerships


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