This page examines the careers pupils chose after finishing secondary school.

It compares the destinations of school leavers, and looks at careers advice given to pupils across a range of secondary schools since 1945.

The first part of this page examines careers content from secondary school magazines around the 1960s. Often, school magazines contained adverts aimed at school leavers, and could be from a range of institutions including banks, accountancy firms, the RAF and Navy, or iron and steel companies. The adverts examined on this page are collected from 12 school magazines belonging to 5 different British schools, between 1958 and 1971. By far the most popular type of advert across this long decade was for careers in banking or accountancy, making up 64% of the adverts. This was followed by adverts for careers in the armed forces and police, accounting for 26% of the adverts. However, as the charts below show, it’s worth noting how school type may have influenced the type of adverts printed in school magazines; for instance, 50% of adverts found in Fitzalan High School in Cardiff (a Technical school until 1968) were for the armed forces, and 25% for the coal, steel & iron industries. In contrast, 80% of adverts in Cardiff High School magazine were for careers in finance.

Click on any chart to enlarge it. You can find examples of the adverts by clicking on the labelled boxes below.

An interesting and more in-depth study is offered by a report on the Fitzalan High School 1966 Careers Convention.

This meeting was attended by over 300 boys from both Fitzalan High and Ninian Park High, and arranged by the Youth Employment Service who analysed which careers were most popular among pupils according to interviews held on the night. A total of 38 interviews took place for careers in Customs & Excise, the highest number of the evening, closely followed by 24 interviews for teaching jobs. However, a survey about potential future careers written for the school magazine following the convention found that the most popular potential job choice among pupils was in Engineering (39 boys). This was closely followed by Teaching (33 boys) and Architects/Draughtsmen (26 boys). And, as the title of the survey states, Not a train driver in the whole school!

Click through the slideshow below to view the report on the Careers Convention, and the subsequent survey conducted by pupils in the Fitzalan High School magazine:

Meanwhile, Fairfield School, a mixed grammar school in Bristol (though not a direct grant grammar school) held a register of leavers from 1953-1992. Taking a sample from every fourth entry per page (roughly 2 to 3 entries per year) we received the following results:

  • Of the 98 pupils recorded, the highest number (41) continued onto further education of some sort, including university, art foundation courses and college of commerce.
  • The next highest number of pupils (11) went into clerical jobs, although strikingly all 11 of these pupils were female, making up 21% of the girls surveyed.
  • A further 48% girls continued into further education, with 9 other possible destinations including finance, nursing and teaching.
  • In contrast, the array of destinations male leavers went on to was more than twice as diverse, with 20 different destinations recorded including work as mechanics, estate agents, journalists and apprenticeships. This is demonstrated in the word clouds below, which shows female leavers’ destinations on the left, and the male equivalent on the right.