This statistical release presents the latest provisional information on adult (19+) FE and skills participation in England reported for the 2020/21 academic year.
This update 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.
Also included are official statistics covering achievement rates covering the 2019 to 2020 academic year. Previously this data would have been released as part of the standalone National achievement rate tables publication. As confirmed in our guidance, we will not publish any institution-level qualification achievement rates QARs in the national achievement rate tables for the 2019 to 2020 academic year in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are publishing high level summaries of QAR’s for statistical purposes.
A separate release covers apprenticeships and traineeships data, please see ‘Apprenticeships and traineeships release’, but note that apprenticeships and traineeships are included in the overall FE and skills numbers in this release.
Figures on ‘annual time series’, ‘providers’ and ‘advanced learner loans’ were published in November 2020 but included here for reference.
Individualised Learner Record (ILR) administrative data
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. We publish a high volume of FE statistics using provisional, in year data and use latest data as soon as available despite not being ‘final’. This enables us to provide the earliest picture of FE performance and allows users to assess the impact of government-funded provision and hold the ‘system’ to account.
The FE and skills data in this release are based on the tenth ILR data return from FE and apprenticeship providers for the 2020/21 academic year.
Provider reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic
The latest data in this publication covers a period affected by varying COVID-19 restrictions which will have impacted on further education including apprenticeships learning. Therefore, extra care should be taken in comparing and interpreting data presented in this release. It is likely have impacted on provider behaviour in terms of the reporting of FE and apprenticeship learning during the affected period, and this could vary by provider.
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.
2019/20 achievement data update
In November achievements for 2019/20 were marked as provisional in the end of year release. This release was based on the final provider return, R14. This reflected uncertainty over whether providers were in the position to report final achievements for 2019/20 given alternate arrangements for exams and assessments which were in place over the COVID-19 period. Analysis of 2019/20 data at the time showed higher levels of records than normal being marked in the achievement field as ‘results unknown’ or being marked in the completion field as ‘learning continuing’. Given this ambiguity the results were marked as provisional pending further data from providers to clarify the position.
Reporting flexibilities were implemented to allow providers to continue to report achievements in the 2020/21 returns. Analysis of the 2020/21 R04 return of those with planned end dates for 2019/20 as at R14 has found these learners had either gone on to achieve but have been marked with an achievement date in the 2020/21 period or have been marked as continuing learning beyond the original planned end date.
Please note that the ILR is an administrative system designed for financial reporting and does not offer the level of precision one might need to estimate real world impact from the disruption of the pandemic. The new analysis requires linking of learners across years which leads to a small degree of error and it is possible providers will go on to change records as reported at R04 in the 2020/21 data (which the analysis is based on), or add new records for the small proportion of learners for whom a link in 2020/21 could not be found in the R04 data.
However, given that the vast majority of records have been linked and found to have either achieved in 2020/21 or are recorded as continuing learning, it seems on balance appropriate to take provider reporting for the end of year return and for 2020/21 as a true record. We therefore will treat 2019/20 achievements published in November as a final record.
Comparison of achievements for 2019/20 with 2018/19 and with 2020/21 should also be treated with caution because the disruption to exams and assessments and breaks in learning etc will have led to less achievements in 2019/20 than would normally have been expected to achieve. Likewise, the 2020/21 year will have more achievements than would have otherwise been the case, given delays in training or passing assessments etc.
Apprenticeships - At the end of the 2019/20 reporting year there were a total of 54,500 records where the learning was expected to have ended but the outcome was unknown. Looking at the R04 2020/21 data return we can now confirm that 16,700 of those now have a known outcome, 29,400 are recorded as continuing learning, and 5,800 have completed learning with the outcome as yet unknown. Of those with a known outcome 14,400 have achieved. The majority (13,900) have an achievement date which falls in the 2020/21 academic year.
Education and Training - At the end of the 2019/20 reporting year there were a total of 54,400 records where the learning was expected to have ended but the outcome was unknown. Looking at the R04 2020/21 data return we can now confirm that 13,500 of those now have a known outcome, 25,600 are recorded as continuing learning, and 3,200 have completed learning with the outcome as yet unknown. Of those with a known outcome 11,000 have achieved. The majority (9,400) have an achievement date which falls in the 2020/21 academic year.