Academic Year 2020/21

Level 2 and 3 attainment age 16 to 25

Data guidance

Published

Description

This document describes the data included in the ‘Level 2 and 3 attainment age 16 to 25 in 2021’ National Statistics release’s underlying data file. This data is released under the terms of the Open Government License and is intended to meet at least three stars for Open Data.

Note: The time periods shown in the data files below relate to the year in which the young person will turn 19.

The underlying data files include:

1. Overall national estimates

(i) Numbers (numerators) are based upon all young people in the dataset (the Young Person’s Matched Administrative Dataset, or YPMAD), not just those in the state sector at 15.

(ii) The cohort sizes (denominators) are taken from school census population data when learners were academic age 14 (i.e. age 14 at the start of the academic year; 15 by the end of the academic year). It includes those in independent schools, alternative provision and PRUs who are excluded from the state-funded cohort figures.

The following underlying data reports on attainment for young people who were in the mainstream state sector at academic age 15. As well as overall attainment for this group, we report on attainment by characteristics, as recorded in the school census at academic age 15. All estimates are based on the YPMAD dataset.

2. National estimates by characteristics for those in the state sector at academic age 15

(i) Numbers are based upon the number of young people in the state sector at academic age 15 who reached Level 2/3 or Level 2 with English and maths by 19.

(ii) The cohort is the number that were in the state sector at academic age 15.

(iii) Pupils attending independent schools, PRUs and other non-mainstream provision at academic age 15 are excluded from these figures.

3. Local authority figures by characteristics for those in the state sector at academic age 15

(i)         The cohort and attainment numbers are as in ‘2. National estimates by characteristics’.

(ii)        The figures are calculated for each local authority based on where the pupil was learning at academic age 15.

(iii)       Regional figures are aggregated from local authority figures and are not directly comparable with ‘1. Overall national estimates’.

The technical document published with the release should be referenced alongside this data. It provides information on the data sources, their coverage and quality as well as explaining the methodology used in producing the data.

File formats and conventions

Rounding

All figures in the underlying data are unrounded except in the local authority underlying data where regional and national figures have been rounded to the nearest 10 in order to avoid secondary suppression within local authorities.

Disclosure control

In the local authority data all figures where the cohort is 5 or less have been suppressed to avoid disclosure.

All characteristic data for the Isles of Scilly has been suppressed due to risk of disclosure due to small cohorts.

Characteristics information

Gender 

The gender of the pupil is recorded as male or female on the school census. If a school is unsure as to which gender should be recorded for a particular pupil, the advice from the department is to record the gender according to the wishes of the pupil and/or parent.

Disadvantaged

In order to be counted as disadvantaged the learner must have been recorded as falling into at least one of the following categories by (academic) age 15;

  • being eligible for free school meals on Census day in any termly or annual Census in the last 6 years up to the learners current year, or the learner must have been recorded as eligible for FSM in any other termly School Census. This includes the Alternative Provision (AP) and the Pupil referral Unit (PRU) Census.
  • being part of a Post looked After Arrangement (PLAA) through adoption, a guardianship order or a child arrangement.
  • being looked after for at least one day during the year.

Free school meals 

Free School Meals (FSM) is a binary indicator variable that states whether a pupil's family have claimed eligibility for free school meals in the academic year reported at the time of the annual spring school census. Parents are able to claim free school meals if they receive a qualifying benefit.

Please note: The FSM variable does not relate to pupils who actually received free school meals but those who are eligible to receive free school meals. Pupils not eligible for free school meals or unclassified pupils are described as ‘Not eligible for FSM’ in this release.

Ethnic Group 

Ethnicity is broken down into two main variables: a minor grouping variable and a major grouping variable.

If a pupil or parent has refused to give the information then refused is recorded and returned.  Ethnicity is a personal awareness of a common cultural identity. Ethnicity relates to how a person feels and not necessarily how they are perceived by others. It is a subjective decision as to which category a person places themselves in and therefore does not infer any other characteristics such as religion, country of origin etc. Ethnicity monitoring advice is available from the Department’s website.

Table 1: The DfE main ethnicity categories and descriptions 

Ethnic groupingcodecode description
WhiteWBRIWhite – British
WhiteWIRIWhite – Irish
WhiteWIRTTraveller of Irish Heritage
WhiteWOTHAny other White Background
WhiteWROMGypsy / Roma
MixedMWBCWhite and Black Caribbean
MixedMWBAWhite and Black African
MixedMWASWhite and Asian
MixedMOTHAny Other Mixed Background
AsianINDIndian
AsianAPKNPakistani
AsianABANBangladeshi
AsianAOTHAny Other Asian Background
BlackBCRBBlack Caribbean
BlackBAFTBlack African
BlackBOTHAny Other Black Background
ChineseCHNEChinese
OtherOOTHAny Other Ethnic Group
RefusedREFURefused
Information not obtainedNOBTInformation not obtained

Special Educational Needs

The SEN variable indicates whether a young person has learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most young people of the same age.

Prior to 2015 the school census return for pupils with special educational needs comprised those at School Action, School Action Plus or with statements of SEN:

  • School Action – where extra or different help is given, from that provided as part of the school’s usual curriculum.
  • School Action Plus – where the class teacher and the SENCO receive advice or support from outside specialists (the specialist teacher, an educational psychologist, a speech and language therapist or other health professionals).
  • Statement – a pupil has a statement of SEN when a formal assessment has been made. A document setting out the child’s needs and the extra help they should receive is in place.

The 2015 school census return changed to take account of the implementation of the SEND reforms introduced in September 2014. Two new categories were added:

  • Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan
  • SEN support

The transfer of statements to an EHC plan took place in April 2018. All categories are included in this release.

Special primary educational need

The SEN type field on the school census records the nature of a pupil’s primary special educational need.

Up to and including 2014, the type of special educational need was only collected for those with a statement or on school action plus. In 2015, the type of special educational need was collected for all those:  with a statement, with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, on School Action Plus or on SEN Support.

In 2016, the type of special educational need was collected for all those with a statement, with an EHC plan, or on SEN support.

Table 2: Pupil SEN type

Code DescriptionNotes
SPLDSpecific Learning Difficulty  
MLDModerate Learning Difficulty  
SLDSevere Learning Difficulty  
PMLDProfound & Multiple Learning Difficulty  
BESDBehaviour, Emotional & Social Difficulties BESD replaced with 
SEMHSocial, Emotional and Mental HealthSEMH in 2015 census
SLCNSpeech, Language and Communication Needs  
HIHearing Impairment  
VIVisual Impairment  
MSIMulti-Sensory Impairment  
PDPhysical Disability  
ASDAutistic Spectrum Disorder  
OTHOther Difficulty / Disability  

 

Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI)

IDACI is provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), now the ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). The index is based on Super Output Areas (SOAs) in England based on 2001 census data. Each SOA is given a rank between 1 and 34,378 where 1 is the most deprived SOA.

IDACI is a subset of the Income Deprivation Domain of the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IoD). Each SOA is given a score showing the percentage of pupils aged under 16 that live in families that are income deprived, i.e. they are in receipt of certain benefits and their equivalised income is below 60% of the median before housing costs.

The IDACI bands used in this publication are based on 2015 IDACI scores. 

Geography

Geographic data which is matched to DfE data collections and used in all official statistics is provided by ONS Geography, a business unit of ONS that provides the geographic data and services that support the production of high quality statistics.

The ONS’s presentation guidance for administrative areas sets out the recommended standard for presenting and publishing statistics at regional and sub-regional levels in the UK ONS guidance: presenting statistics for administrative areas.

The geography structures and codes used in the production of DfE’s statistical releases can be downloaded from the ONS geography portal.

Local authority (LA) tables show the LA that maintains the school which returned the school census. 

Data files

All data files associated with this releases are listed below with guidance on their content. To download any of these files, please visit our data catalogue.

Headlines

Filename
headlines_.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2003/04 to 2020/21
Content

A table summarising the headline figures of the release, including the proportions of young people achieving level 2 and 3, level 2 in English and maths and progression in level 2 English and maths (i.e. those who had not achieved by 16 but had achieved both by 19). Also included are annual change figures for the aforementioned figures.

Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
L2_em_GCSE_othL2_annual_changeLevel 2 in English and maths annual change
L2_em_GCSE_othL2_numberLevel 2 in English and maths (number)
L2_em_GCSE_othL2_percentageLevel 2 in English and maths
Level_2_annual_changeLevel 2 annual change
Level_2_numberLevel 2 (5 GCSEs 9-4 or equivalent) (number)
Level_2_percentageLevel 2 (5 GCSEs 9-4 or equivalent)
Level_2_progression_EMProgression in level 2 English and maths
Level_2_progression_EM_annual_changeProgression in level 2 English and maths annual change
Level_2_progression_EM_numberProgression in level 2 English and maths (number)
Level_3_annual_changeLevel 3 annual change
Level_3_numberLevel 3 (2 A Levels or equivalent) (number)
Level_3_percentageLevel 3 (2 A Levels or equivalent)
Footnotes
  1. Condition of Funding changes for young people were introduced by the Education and Skills Funding Agency from 2014/15 onwards. This has resulted in most students having to study English and/or maths at level 2 as part of their programmes between the ages of 16 and 19 if they are yet to achieve qualifications at this level.

Level 2 and 3 attainment - ages 16 to 19

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_19.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2003/04 to 2023/24
Content

The numbers and proportions achieving Level 2/3 by cohort year, age, qualification type and institution type.

Overall cohort numbers are taken from school census population data when learners were academic age 14 (i.e. age 14 at the start of the academic year; 15 by the end of the academic year).

Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
ageAge - The academic year shown is the year in which the young person has turned (or will turn) 19, irrespective of the age selected. 19 not 16 refers to young people who had not achieved at 16 but had achieved by 19.
institution_typeInstitution type - Total only available for age 19
Level_2Level 2
Level_3Level 3
number_in_cohortNumber in national cohort
number_or_percentageNumbers or percentages
qualification_typeQualification type - Qualification type for Level 2 only available for ages 16, 19 and 19 not 16. Qualification type for Level 3 only available for age 19.
Footnotes
  1. The fall in AS level attainment coincides with the decoupling of AS levels from A levels as part of reforms which started in the 2015/16 academic year. This has resulted in AS results no longer counting towards an A level (and AS levels becoming standalone qualifications), which has led to a reduction in AS level entries (see A level and other 16-18 results for more information). In turn, this had resulted in a fall in Level 3 attainment via AS levels, with just 0.1% of 19-year olds having achieved Level 3 through this route in 2020/21.
  2. These figures are based on qualifications prioritised in the following order: GCSEs, Apprenticeships (displayed in the ‘Other’ category), Vocational qualifications, Level 3 qualifications (displayed in the ‘Other’ category) and combinations of qualifications (displayed in the ‘Other’ category).
  3. In these statistics AS levels count for 25% of Level 3 and can be aggregated, so that four AS levels or two AS levels and one A level (which counts as 50% of Level 3) are counted as achievement of Level 3.
  4. These figures are based on qualifications held at 19 prioritised in the following order: A levels, International Baccalaureates (displayed in the ‘Other’ category), AS levels, Advanced Apprenticeships (displayed in the ‘Other’ category) and Vocational Qualifications.

Level 2 and 3 attainment - ages 16 to 19 by local authority

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_19_local_authority_figures.csv
Geographic levels
Local Authority; National; Regional
Time period
2004/05 to 2020/21
Content

Local authority and regional level figures for the number of young people in the state sector who reached Level 2/3 or Level 2 with English and maths by age , gender, FSM and SEN. Also includes numbers and proportions achieving GCSE/other Level 2 English and maths by 16 and the numbers and proportions achieving at 19 (of those below at 16).

Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
ageAge - The academic year shown is the year in which the young person has turned 19, irrespective of the age selected. 19 not 16 refers to young people who had not achieved at 16 but had achieved by 19.
characteristicCharacteristic
L2_em_GCSE_othL2Level 2 in English and Maths (all qualifications)
L2_with_EMLevel 2 with English and Maths
Level_2Level 2
Level_3Level 3
number_in_ss_cohortNumber in state sector cohort
number_or_percentageNumbers or percentages - For attainment gaps, choose percentage (figures shown are percentage points)
Footnotes
  1. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.
  2. Figures for English and maths do not include those from independent schools.

Level 2 and 3 attainment - ages 16 to 19 by local authority district

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_19_local_authority_district_figures_.csv
Geographic levels
Local Authority; Local Authority District; National; Opportunity Area; Regional
Time period
2016/17 to 2020/21
Content

Local authority district, Opportunity area and regional level figures for the number of young people in the state sector who reached Level 2/3 or Level 2 with English and maths by age ,qualification type, disadvantaged status and FSM. 

Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
ageAge - The academic year shown is the year in which the young person has turned 19, irrespective of the age selected. 19 not 16 refers to young people who had not achieved at 16 but had achieved by 19.
characteristicCharacteristic
L2_emLevel 2 in English and Maths
L2_engLevel 2 in English
L2_mathsLevel 2 in Maths
Level_2Level 2
Level_3Level 3
no_L2_emNo Level 2 in English and Maths
no_L2_engNo Level 2 in English
no_L2_mathsNo Level 2 in Maths
number_in_ss_cohortNumber in state sector cohort
number_or_percentageNumbers or percentages - For attainment gaps, choose percentage (figures shown are percentage points)
Qualification_typeQualification type
Footnotes
  1. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.
  2. In these statistics AS levels count for 25% of Level 3 and can be aggregated, so that four AS levels or two AS levels and one A level (which counts as 50% of Level 3) are counted as achievement of Level 3.
  3. These figures are based on qualifications held at 19 prioritised in the following order: A levels, International Baccalaureates (displayed in the ‘Other’ category), AS levels, Advanced Apprenticeships (displayed in the ‘Other’ category) and Vocational Qualifications.
  4. Figures for English and maths do not include those from independent schools.

Level 2 and 3 attainment - ages 16 to 25

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_25_.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2012/13 to 2014/15
Content

This file contains the numbers and proportions achieving Level 2/3 for the cohorts aged 19 in 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 (i.e. those aged 25 in 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21) from age 16 up to 25. Level 2 and 3 attainment figures from 16 to 19 are included in the files above and are repeated here for convenience of use.

Overall cohort numbers are taken from school census population data when learners were academic age 14 (i.e. age 14 at the start of the academic year; 15 by the end of the academic year).

Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
ageAge
Level_2Level 2
Level_3Level 3
number_in_cohortNumber in national cohort
number_or_percentageNumbers or percentages
Footnotes
  1. The age 19 figures in this chart correspond with the same national cohort figures provided in Table 1 for Level 3 and Table 2 for Level 2. Specifically, they relate to those aged 19 in 2014/15, as this is the year when those aged 25 in 2020/21 were 19-years old.

Level 2 and 3 attainment - characteristics of those aged 16 to 19

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_19_characteristics.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2004/05 to 2023/24
Content

The numbers and proportions of young people in the state sector who reached Level 2/3 or Level 2 with English and maths by age and characteristics (gender, FSM eligibility, disadvantaged status, ethnicity, SEN and IDACI). 

Also includes numbers and proportions achieving GCSE/other Level 2 English, maths by age and the numbers and proportions achieving at 19 (of those below at 16).

Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
ageAge - The academic year shown is the year in which the young person has turned (or will turn) 19, irrespective of the age selected. 19 not 16 refers to young people who had not achieved at 16 but had achieved by 19.
characteristicCharacteristic
L2_em_GCSE_acLevel 2 in English and Maths (GCSEs only)
L2_em_GCSE_othL2Level 2 in English and Maths (all qualifications)
L2_eng_FSQLevel 2 English via Functional Skills Qualifications
L2_eng_GCSE_acLevel 2 in English (GCSE only)
L2_eng_GCSE_othL2Level 2 in English (all qualifications)
L2_maths_FSQLevel 2 maths via Functional Skills Qualifications
L2_maths_GCSE_acLevel 2 in Maths (GCSE only)
L2_maths_GCSE_othL2Level 2 in Maths (all qualifications)
L2_with_EMLevel 2 with English and Maths
Level_2Level 2
Level_3Level 3
number_in_ss_cohortNumber in state sector cohort
number_or_percentageNumbers or percentages - For attainment gaps, choose percentage (figures shown are percentage points)
Footnotes
  1. Figures for disadvantage only available from 2016/17 onwards.
  2. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.
  3. Figures for pupil characteristics do not include those in independent schools.
  4. Figures for English and maths do not include those from independent schools.
  5. Attainment gaps refer to the difference in attainment between one characteristic group and another. 1) Special Educational Need (SEN) gap: between those with and without SEN, with non-SEN individuals typically having higher attainment; 2) Free School Meal (FSM) gap: between those eligible and not eligible for FSM, with those not eligible for FSM typically having higher attainment; 3) Disadvantage gap: between those deemed disadvantaged (see methodology) and those not disadvantaged, with those not disadvantaged typically having higher attainment; 4) Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) gap: between the 25% most deprived and the 25% least deprived, with the 25% least deprived typically having higher attainment; 5) Gender gap: between males and females, with females typically having higher attainment.