Academic Year 2019/20

Further education and skills

Published
Last updated
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  1. Corrected non-functional links to the interactive visualisation tool

  2. Updated provisional status of 2019/20 achievements to final and updated user guide

  3. Updated to add supplementary data and links to the interactive data visualisation tool

This release uses the final data return on adult further education (FE) and skills in England for the 2019/20 academic year (August 2019 to July 2020). This provides an update to figures published in the July 2020 FE & Skills release.

Impact of COVID-19 on reporting of FE and apprenticeship data

The 2019/20 data covers the period affected by COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown (i.e. from March 2020 onwards), which will have impacted on FE provision and also provider reporting behaviour via the Individualised Learner Record (ILR). Therefore, extra care should be taken in comparing and interpreting data presented in this release. 

As this is a completely new approach to publishing our data and statistics, your feedback is important to help us improve and develop. Please see the Find my data and feedback section for more information on this. 

We will also be doing some proactive user research, the details of which will be provided in the further education and skills January 2021 release. 


Headline facts and figures - 2019/20

  • Adult government-funded further education and skills participation decreased by 15.6% compared to 2018/19, from 2,068,200 to 1,745,800.
  • Higher level (level 4 or above) participation increased by 30.9%, from 133,100 to 174,100 from last year.
  • During the period since the start of lockdown (23 March to 31 July 2020), enrolments started on adult education and training were 208,790, a 50.4% drop compared to the same period in 2018/19 (420,910)
  • Achievements in further education and skills decreased by 21.7%.
  • Of learners we expected to complete in 2019/20, we estimate that 54,500 (23.3%) apprenticeships and 55,200 (3.8%) adult (19+) learners undertaking education and training provision have been identified as having an unknown outcome at this stage. Please see ‘About these statistics’.

Explore data and files

All data used in this release is available as open data for download


Open data

Browse and download individual open data files from this release in our data catalogue


Guidance

Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance


Create your own tables

You can view featured tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from the open data using our table tool


All supporting files

All supporting files from this release are listed for individual download below:

List of all supporting files

About these statistics

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). 

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.

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 and 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 this 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 latest data returns (R04, 2020/21) 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 latest data returns 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.

Annual time series

Adult (19+) further education and skills:

Between 2014/15 and 2018/19, participation decreased from 2,613,700 to 2,068,200, and achievements decreased from 1,983,200 to 1,467,600.

Of the 1,745,800 adult learners participating in 2019/20: 

  • The number on below Level 2 courses (excluding English and maths) was 271,700.
  • The number on an English and maths course was 479,300.
  • The number on Level 2 courses was 579,000 (on Full Level 2, there were 180,600 learners) and on Level 3 there were 400,400 learners (on Full Level 3, there were 339,400 learners). 
  • The number on Level 4 or above courses was 174,100.

In 2019/20, the number of learners who benefited from support for the unemployed (those nearest the workforce) were 215,600. Of these, those aged 19 and over were 212,800. Based on self-reporting through the ILR, these are defined as those learners reporting that they were in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance - Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG), Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit (if unemployed and looking for work).

Note: 

Further education and skills participation has changed over the years and has included different types of provision, including Apprenticeships, Community Learning, and Education and Training. Some of provision and data sources are now more historical in nature such Workplace Learning and that relating to the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers, as well as data relating to pilots such as the Employer Ownership Pilots. Please see the User Guide available at the top of the release, under download associated files, for more information. Additionally, learners can participate at more than one level in different types of learning during an academic year and also on different types of provision, therefore it is not possible to sum individual levels to obtain the overall total.

For more detail on how we count different measures please see the User Guide in ‘download associated files’.

Adult education budget:

Between 2016/17 and 2018/19, adult education budget participation increased from 1,295,200 to 1,302,700, and achievements increased from 1,090,300 to 1,119,700. In 2019/20, the number participating was 1,042,000 and the number achieving was 878,500.

Further education and skills learner characteristics

Adult further education and skills learner participation in 2019/20 was 1,745,800. Of these:

  • Females account for 60.9% (1,063,700).
  • Learners aged 19-24, 25-49, and 50 and over accounted for 25.8% (451,100), 55.9% (975,300) and 18.3% (318,800) respectively.
  • Learners declaring themselves as black, Asian, or other minority ethnic groups (BAME) represented 23.8% (404,600).
  • Those declaring a learning difficulty or disability (LLDD) account for 17.5% (295,600).

You can create your own tables in the table builder using the further education and skills learner demographics data. The following tables offer a range of useful breakdowns as starting points:

Education and training learner characteristics

Adult (19+) participation in education and training decreased by 19.3% to 875,100 in 2019/20, compared to 1,083,700 in 2018/19. 

Most learners participated in Level 2 courses (428,330), followed by English and maths (285,920).

Of the 875,100 learners participating in adult education and training in 2019/20: 

  • Females account for 64.1% (561,300).
  • Learners aged 19-24, 25-49, and 50 and over accounted for 21.8% (190,700), 61.8% (540,600) and 16.4% (143,700) respectively.
  • Learners declaring themselves as black, Asian, or other minority ethnic groups (BAME) represented 31.6% (269,100).
  • Those declaring a learning difficulty or disability (LLDD) account for 20.4% (174,400).
  • The most deprived fifth (20%) of areas contained 35.3% (307,910) of participating learners .

Achievements dropped from 1,114,590 in 2014/15 to 884,470 in 2018/19. In 2019/20 there were 674,110 achievements. 

For information on education and training by sector subject area, please see the ‘Subject' section.

You can create your own tables in the table builder using the education and training learner demographics data. The following tables offer a range of useful breakdowns as starting points:

Community learning learner characteristics

Community learning participation in the 2019/20 academic year was 358,500, a 26.9% decrease compared to 2018/19. 

  • Personal and community development learning participation was 285,400.
  • Neighbourhood learning in deprived communities participation was 30,700.
  • Family English, maths and language participation was 19,900.
  • Wider family learning participation was 31,300.

Community learning learner characteristics in 2019/20 showed: 

  • Females accounted for 74.1 % (265,500).
  • Learners aged 25 and over represented 93.7% of participation.
  • Learners declaring themselves as black, Asian, or other minority ethnic groups (BAME) represented 23.8 % (82,200).
  • Those declaring a learning difficulty or disability (LLDD) account for 21.8 % (73,000).

You can create your own tables in the table builder using the community learning learner demographics data. The following tables offer a range of useful breakdowns as starting points:

Participation by level and ethnicity group from 2014/15 to 2019/20 (achievements data along with additional breakdowns by ethnicity, learner age and LLDD can be added).

Participation by level and gender from 2014/15 to 2019/20 (achievements data along with additional breakdowns by ethnicity, ethnicity group and LLDD status can be added).

Participation by detailed learning difficulty and level from 2014/15 to 2019/20 (achievements data along with additional breakdowns by LLDD type, BAME and age group status can be added).

Subject

Adult further education and skills enrolments:

Out of 6,516,900 enrolments in adult further education and skills in 2019/20: 

• Science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) subjects represent 21.0%. 

• Preparation for life and work accounted for most enrolments with 31.5% (2,055,400), followed by health, public services and care with 13.1% (851,800) and business, administration and law with 10.8% (701,400).

Education and training learning aim enrolments:

Of the 1,580,480 education and training learning aim enrolments reported for 2019/20: 

• Science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) subjects represent 12.0% (190,350).

• Preparation for life and work was the sector subject area with the most enrolments (734,700), followed by health, public services and care (263,420). 

• Entry and Level 1 courses together make up over half of enrolments (52.8%)  - 833,700 enrolments in total. A majority of these are in preparation for life (74.5%).

• Level 2 courses account for 35.9% overall – a third of which are in health, public services and care (33.3%).

• At Level 4 or above, health, public services and care (42.5%) and business, administration and law (25.2%) together make up over two-thirds of the enrolments (67.7%).

You can create your own tables in the table builder using the subject data. The following table contains a range of useful breakdowns as a starting point:

Education and training aim enrolments by sector subject area tier 1 and level in 2019/20 (achievements data along with additional breakdowns by STEM flag, BAME flag, gender, LLDD and age group back to 2014/15 can be added). 

Education and training aim enrolments by sector subject area tier 2 and level in 2019/20 (additional breakdowns by STEM flag, age group and level back to 2014/15 can be added). 

Interactive data visualisation tool

A new experimental data tool has been developed within the Microsoft Power BI software application to complement the further education and skills release in EES. 

This new approach allows a more visual, interactive exploration of provider data with a number of different views and ‘drilldown’ capability to allow users to investigate education and training and community learning provision within different geographical areas and across providers. 

Geography

In 2019/20: 

  • The region with the highest further education and skills participation was London with 301,800 learners.
  • London also had the highest participation at below Level 2 (excluding English and maths) with 58,100 learners, and in English and maths with 106,400 learners.
  • The region with the most participating learners at Level 2 was the South East (78,200), at Level 3, the North West (60,600), and at Level 4 or above, the North West and South East each had 26,000 learners.

You can create your own tables in the table builder using the geography data. The following table contains a range of useful breakdowns as a starting point:

Education and training learner participation by region and level in 2019/20 (learner achievements data along with additional breakdowns for local authority district, ethnicity group, age group and gender can be added). 

Education and training learner participation by devolved administration and level in 2019/20 (learner achievements data along with additional breakdowns for region, local authority district, age group, gender and ethnicity group can be added). 

Community learning learner participation by type and  region in 2019/20 (learner achievements data along with additional breakdowns for local authority district, ethnicity group, age group and gender can be added). 

Interactive data visualisation tool

A new experimental data tool has been developed within the Microsoft Power BI software application to complement the further education and skills release in EES. 

This new approach allows a more visual, interactive exploration of provider data with a number of different views and ‘drilldown’ capability to allow users to investigate education and training and community learning provision within different geographical areas and across providers. 

 

Providers

Adult further education and skills:

Of the 1,745,800 learners that participated in 2019/20: 

  • Further education colleges accounted for the majority, 40.4% (705,400).
  • Private sector public funded providers account for 30.9% (538,600) and other public funded (i.e. local authorities and higher education institutions) providers a further 22.8% (397,900).
  • Schools, sixth form colleges, and special colleges make up 5.9% of participation (103,800).

Interactive data visualisation tool

A new experimental data tool has been developed within the Microsoft Power BI software application to complement the further education and skills release in EES. 

This new approach allows a more visual, interactive exploration of provider data with a number of different views and ‘drilldown’ capability to allow users to investigate education and training and community learning provision within different geographical areas and across providers. 

English and maths

The number of adult further education and skills (including apprenticeships) learners participating in English and maths in 2019/20 decreased by 16.4% compared to 2018/19, from 573,500 to 479,300.

In 2019/20:

  • Participation on an English course was 288,200.
  • Participation on a maths course was 295,900.
  • Participation on an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course was 116,100.

You can create your own tables in the table builder using the English and maths data. The following table contains a range of useful breakdowns as a starting point:

Adult English and maths (including apprenticeships) participation and achievement by subject and level, 2014/15 to 2019/20.

English and maths apprenticeships participation and achievement by subject and level, 2014/15 to 2019/20.

Adult English and maths education and training participation and achievement by subject and level, 2014/15 to 2019/20.

Adult English and maths (including apprenticeships) participation and achievement by region, subject and level, 2019/20 (under 19 age group for apprenticeships data can be added along with additional breakdowns by local authority district and parliamentary constituency).

Advanced learner loans

Learners participating with an advanced learner loan

Of the 95,800 learners participating with an advanced learner loan in 2019/20:

  • Most of the learners were at Level 3 (86,400).
  • Of those at Level 3, the highest participation was from the 31-40 age group (26,800) followed by the 24-30 age group (24,200).
  • Level 4 or above participation was 9,900.

Applications for advanced learner loans:

Of the 69,400 applications received for advanced learner loans in 2019/20:

  • The number of applications approved was 61,280.
  • The total value for loans approved was £182.4 million.
  • Level 3 diplomas received the most applications (37,450).
  • Majority of the loan demand continues to be from females with 72.3% (50,160) and by UK nationals with 82.8% (57,450).
  • By age group, the highest demand was from age groups 31-40 with 30.3% (21,060) and 24-30 with 26.6% (18,490).
  • The highest number of applications received were in the sector subject areas health, public services and care (21,070) and retail and commercial enterprise (10,780).

Additional tables containing further breakdowns of advanced learner loans applications data (2014/15 to 2019/20) are available with the following breakdowns:

National Achievement Rates

National achievement rates tables 

See national achievement rates tables for more information on NARTs that were published in March 2020 for the 2018 to 2019 academic year.

As confirmed in our guidance, we will not publish any institution-level qualification achievement rates in the national achievement rates tables for the 2019 to 2020 academic year in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). The department will still consider publishing national data for the 2019 to 2020 academic year in 2021. 

Additional analysis

The following statistics are classified as official statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics, rather than being classed as national statistics and approved as such by the United Kingdom Statistics Authority.

 This analysis has been included to provide wider contextual information on further education and skills as a whole. 

Comparisons of adult education and training  measures during the period affected by the COVID-19 lockdown 

For the period reported between 23 March and 31 July 2020 and compared to the same period in 2019 (Table 1):

  • Participation fell by 44.0% - to 156,750 from 279,970
  • Enrolments started fell by 50.4% - to 208,790 from 420,910
  • Achievements reported so far show a fall of 37.4% 

These decreases are all significantly larger than seen in the rest of the academic year before COVID-19 restrictions. In the period between 1 August 2019 and 22 March 2020 and compared to the same period in 2018/19:

  • Participation decreased by 14.2% - to 767,450 from 894,350
  • Enrolments started fell by 14.3% - to 1,355,640 from 1,582,360
  • Achievements fell by 14.7% - to 666,820 from 782,130

Table 1: Comparisons of participation, enrolment starts and achievements before and after the COVID-19 period 

 2018/192019/20
 August to 22nd MarchMarch 23rd to JulyAugust to 22nd MarchMarch 23rd to July
Total education and training participation894,350 279,970767,450 156,750
Total education and training enrolments started1,582,360420,9101,355,640208,790
Total education and training achievements782,130836,170666,820523,650

Interactive data visualisation tool

A new experimental data tool has been developed within the Microsoft Power BI software application to complement the further education and skills release in EES. 

This new approach allows a more visual, interactive exploration of provider data with a number of different views and ‘drilldown’ capability to allow users to investigate education and training and community learning provision within different geographical areas and across providers. 

Find my data and feedback

This section provides guidance on finding data and providing feedback. 

Find my data 

To find information on topics of interest, expand the content sections i.e. Subject, Geography, Provider. In each section, there will be: 

  • Tables/charts and summary commentary on the relevant area
  • Links to additional pre-prepared tables

You can also create your own tables through the table tool or modify the pre- prepared tables which use the same files. 

A new interactive data visualisation tool is available. See the Additional analysis section for more detail. 

At the top of the release, there is a link ‘download associated files’ which includes:

  • A user guide to FE and skills statistics
  • Data that sits underneath the release
  • Supporting tables created outside the EES platform
  • Underlying CSV files that contain richer base data, and associated metadata files

The standard period for data in the release is from 2014/15 to 2019/20. However, due to performance limitations, some files contain a shorter period of data than the standard full six years. 

If you are looking for historic data not available in this release, see the FE data library where there is more than six years’ worth of data.   

To find previous publications on FE and Skills see the Statistics: further education and skills collection.

The latest apprenticeship and traineeships statistics can be found here Apprenticeship and traineeship release

 Feedback

This release is a completely new approach to publishing our data and statistics which we are looking to evolve overtime. 

As a result, your feedback is important to help us improve and develop.

To provide feedback on this release, content, or functionality, and for any other queries, please contact the FE statistics mailbox. 

Email: FE.OFFICIALSTATISTICS@education.gov.uk

We will also be doing some proactive user research, the details of which will be provided in the further education and skills January 2021 release. 

Help and support

Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

National statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics to be observed.

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

Ask questions and provide feedback

If you have a specific enquiry about Further education and skills statistics and data:

FE Stats Dissemination

Email
FE.OFFICIALSTATISTICS@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Matthew Rolfe
020 7783 8300

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone
020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

Telephone
037 0000 2288