This statistical release presents finalised information on adult (19+) FE and skills participation in England reported for the full 2019/20 academic year (August 2019 to July 2020). Achievements reported are provisional (see ‘November 2020 achievements data’ below).
The data includes Apprenticeships, Community Learning, and Education and Training provision taken at General Further Education Colleges (including Tertiary), Sixth Form Colleges, Special Colleges (Agricultural and Horticultural Colleges, and Art and Design Colleges), Specialist Colleges and External Institutions.
Figures are also available on participation with those on advanced learner loans sourced from the Individualised Learner Record (ILR), and on the number of applications received for advanced learner loans sourced from the Student Loans Company.
This release does not now include offender learners for 2019/20 onwards as this data is being collected by the Ministry of Justice. In previous releases we included offender learning in our data where relevant, which accounted for around 78,000 learners aged 18+ in 2017/18 and around 57,600 learners aged 18+ in 2018/19.
A separate release covers apprenticeships and traineeships data, please see ‘Apprenticeships and traineeships’ , but note that apprenticeships and traineeships are included in the overall FE and skills numbers in this release.
Individualised Learner Record (ILR) administrative data
The FE and skills data in this release are based on the final ILR data return from FE and apprenticeship providers for the 2019/20 academic year. The ILR is an administrative data collection system designed primarily for operational use in order to fund training providers for learners in FE and on apprenticeship programmes.
Provider reporting during the period affected by COVID-19
The latest data in this publication covers the period affected by COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown, i.e. from March 2020 onwards (note: the UK lockdown was announced on 23 March so is likely to have impacted on, for example, apprenticeships starts from the last week of March). Therefore, extra care should be taken in comparing and interpreting data presented in this release.
The furlough scheme may also have impacted on how aspects of ILR data are currently being recorded, such as how the ‘learning status’ of a learner has been captured, e.g. whether a learner is currently recorded as a continuing learner or whether they are being recorded as being on a break in learning while still being with an employer.
Comparison statistics are provided for the periods before and after the lockdown and against the same periods in the previous academic year.
November 2020 achievements data
2019/20 achievements in this release are provisional. In most years the end of learning and achievement planned dates for that year are not always met and related learner outcomes would be attributed to the next academic year – during 2020 the COVID-19 the pandemic may have led to more circumstances of this than usual. In 2019/20 there has been an impact on achievement data where the learner has completed learning but the provider has not been in a position to report achievement outcomes by the close of reporting for the year (22 October 2020).
Ofqual changes to assessment arrangements during the pandemic will also have had an effect, with some vocation and technical qualification assessments being adapted, delayed or rescheduled, with some students waiting to take delayed assessments from summer 2020 which they had originally planned to complete by 31 July 2020. Likewise delivery of End-Point Assessments (EPA) for apprenticeships will have been disrupted requiring coordinating entry to rescheduled assessments between provider, learner and end-point assessment organisation. Additionally, it should be noted the ILR collection is designed to capture data for funding purposes and is not geared to provide the level of detail to fully quantify real world impacts over the disrupted period.
As the ILR allows providers to record achievements in the following ILR year, we will look to include an update on achievements for 2019/20 in our January 2021 statistical release.
Of the apprenticeships we expected to complete in 2019/20, we estimate that 54,500 (23.3%) have been identified as having an unknown outcome at this stage on the ILR (with 44,100 identified as ‘continuing’ and 10,300 identified as ‘result not yet known’). There are uncertainties around whether these records will ultimate be marked as achievements for the 2019/20 academic year and whether the apprentice was ready to enter the ‘gateway’ stage ahead of the EPA, or whether some will reappear in the 2020/21 ILR as continuing learners (and so become part of the 2020/21 cohort), or whether some learners will be marked as withdrawing from learning.
A similar volume of unknown outcomes is observed when looking at adult (19+) learners undertaking education and training provision (essentially some form of ‘classroom-based’ FE learning), where of those learners we expected to complete in 2019/20, we estimate that 55,200 (3.8%) have been identified as having an unknown outcome at this stage on the ILR (with 47,100 identified as ‘continuing’ and 8,200 identified as ‘result not yet known’).
As noted, given the uncertainties around the impact of COVID-19 on the achievements data at this stage we are stating that this data should currently be considered as provisional, and we may not be in a position to resolve some of these uncertainties until January 2021 when we look to release data and statistics for the first quarter of 2020/21.