Academic year 2022/23

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 2023’ National Statistics release’s underlying data file. This data is released under the terms of the Open Government License (opens in a new tab) and is intended to meet at least three stars for Open Data (opens in a new tab).

Note: The ‘time_period’ shown in the data files below relate to the year in which the young person will turn 19. There is an additional indicator in the underlying data files named ‘cohort_age_in’ which shows the academic year the person was the age stated in the indicator ‘age’. For example, a person ‘age’ = 16, 'cohort_age_in' = 2022/23 will have a ‘time_period’ = 2025/26 as this is the year they will turn 19.

The underlying data files include:

1. Overall 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. Estimates by characteristics for those in the state sector at academic age 15 (including prior attainment in English and maths figures)

(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 and local authority district figures by characteristics for those in the state sector at academic age 15

(i)  The cohort and attainment numbers are as in 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 overall national estimates.

The methodology published with the release 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

Sex

The sex of the pupil is recorded as male or female on the school census. If a school is unsure as to which sexshould be recorded for a particular pupil, the advice from the department is to record the sex 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 (FSM)

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 (SEN)

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
level_2_3_headlines.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2003/04 to 2022/23
Content

A table summarising the headline figures of the release, including the proportions of young people achieving level 2 and 3 (overall and for state-funded only), level 3 in maths, 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. English and maths figures are for those who were educated in the state-sector at academic age 15.

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_percentage_stateLevel 2 (5 GCSEs 9-4 or equivalent, state-funded sector only)
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_maths_annual_changeLevel 3 maths annual change
Level_3_maths_numberLevel 3 maths (number)
Level_3_maths_percentageLevel 3 maths
Level_3_numberLevel 3 (2 A Levels or equivalent) (number)
Level_3_percentageLevel 3 (2 A Levels or equivalent)
Level_3_percentage_stateLevel 3 (2 A Levels or equivalent, state-funded sector only)
Footnotes
  1. Figures for English and maths are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  2. 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.

Attainment ages 16 to 19

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_19.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2003/04 to 2025/26
Content

Time period refers to the academic year in which the young person turned 19.

The numbers and proportions achieving Level 2/3 by cohort year, age, qualification type (GCSE, A level etc.) and institution type (state-funded schools, sixth form colleges etc.)

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
numberNumber
number_in_cohortNumber in cohort
percentagePercentage
qualification_typeQualification Type
Footnotes
  1. 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.
  2. 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 2022/23.
  3. These figures are based on qualifications held at 19 prioritised in the following order: A levels, T levels (displayed in the 'Other' category), International Baccalaureates (displayed in the ‘Other’ category), AS levels, Advanced Apprenticeships (displayed in the ‘Other’ category) and Vocational Qualifications.
  4. 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).
  5. All state-funded schools include converter academies, free schools, maintained schools, sponsor academies and city technical colleges.

Attainment ages 19 to 25

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_25.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2012/13 to 2016/17
Content

Time period refers to the academic year in which the young person turned 19.

This file contains the numbers and proportions achieving Level 2/3 for the cohorts aged 19 in 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 (i.e. those aged 25 in 2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23) 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 - 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.
numberNumber
number_in_cohortNumber in cohort
percentagePercentage
qualification_levelQualification Level
Footnotes
  1. The age 19 figures in this chart correspond with the same national cohort figures provided in the sections above. Specifically, they relate to those aged 19 in 2016/17, as this is the year when those aged 25 in 2022/23 were 19-years old.

Attainment by characteristics - ages 16 to 25

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_25_characteristics.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2004/05 to 2025/26
Content

Time period refers to the academic year in which the young person turned 19.

The numbers and proportions of young people in the state sector who reached Level 2/3 or Level 2 with English and maths and level in maths by age and characteristics (sex, Free School Meal (FSM) eligibility, disadvantaged status, ethnicity, Special Educational Need (SEN) and Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (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.
breakdownCharacteristic
institution_typeInstitution Type
numberNumber
number_in_ss_cohortNumber in state sector cohort
percentagePercentage
qualification_typeQualification Type
Footnotes
  1. Figures for disadvantage only available from 2016/17 onwards due to changes in measurement.
  2. Figures for English and maths are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  3. 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.
  4. These figures are based on qualifications prioritised by age first achieved.
  5. Figures for pupil characteristics are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  6. 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) Gap between males and females, with females typically having higher attainment.
  7. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.
  8. All state-funded schools include converter academies, free schools, maintained schools, sponsor academies and city technical colleges.

Attainment by characteristics - ages 16 to 25 (with detailed ethnicity by FSM and sex)

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_25_detailed_characteristics.csv
Geographic levels
National
Time period
2004/05 to 2025/26
Content

Time period refers to the academic year in which the young person turned 19.

The numbers and proportions of young people in the state sector who reached Level 2/3 or Level 2 with English and maths and level in maths by age and characteristics (ethnicity by Free School Meal (FSM) eligibility and sex). 

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.
breakdownCharacteristic
institution_typeInstitution Type
numberNumber
number_in_ss_cohortNumber in state sector cohort
percentagePercentage
qualification_typeQualification Type
Footnotes
  1. Figures for English and maths are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  2. 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.
  3. These figures are based on qualifications prioritised by age first achieved.
  4. Figures for pupil characteristics are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  5. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.
  6. All state-funded schools include converter academies, free schools, maintained schools, sponsor academies and city technical colleges.

Attainment by local authority data - ages 16 to 19

Filename
level_2_3_ages_16_19_local_authority_figures.csv
Geographic levels
Local authority; National; Regional
Time period
2004/05 to 2025/26
Content

Time period refers to the academic year in which the young person turned 19.

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 , sex, Free School Meal (FSM) eligibility and Special Educational Need (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 (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.
breakdownCharacteristic
numberNumber
number_in_ss_cohortNumber in state sector cohort
percentagePercentage
qualification_typeQualification Type
Footnotes
  1. Figures for disadvantage only available from 2016/17 onwards due to changes in measurement.
  2. Figures for English and maths are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  3. 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.
  4. Figures for pupil characteristics are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  5. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.

Attainment by local authority district data - ages 16 to 19

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 2022/23
Content

Time period refers to the academic year in which the young person turned 19.

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 Free School Meal (FSM) eligibility. 

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.
breakdownCharacteristic
numberNumber
number_in_ss_cohortNumber in state sector cohort
percentagePercentage
qualification_typeQualification type
Footnotes
  1. 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.
  2. 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 2022/23.
  3. These figures are based on qualifications held at 19 prioritised in the following order: A levels, T levels (displayed in the 'Other' category), International Baccalaureates (displayed in the ‘Other’ category), AS levels, Advanced Apprenticeships (displayed in the ‘Other’ category) and Vocational Qualifications.
  4. Figures for disadvantage only available from 2016/17 onwards due to changes in measurement.
  5. Figures for English and maths are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  6. 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.
  7. Figures for pupil characteristics are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  8. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.

Post-16 English and maths attainment by prior grade (includes region and disadvantaged status)

Filename
level_2_3_eng_maths_prior_attainment.csv
Geographic levels
National; Regional
Time period
2013/14 to 2022/23
Content

Time period refers to the academic year in which the young person turned 19.

English and maths attainment post-16 by prior GCSE grade. Post-16 attainment figures shown by GCSE and Functional Skills Qualifications, disadvantaged status and geographic region.

Variable names and descriptions

Variable names and descriptions for this file are provided below:

Variable nameVariable description
disadvantaged_statusDisadvantaged status
num_not_achieved_by_age_16Number not achieved by age 16
number_achieved_by_age_19Number achieved by age 19
perc_achieved_by_age_19Percentage achieved by age 19
prior_gradePrior grade
qualification_typeQualification type
Footnotes
  1. Figures for disadvantage only available from 2016/17 onwards due to changes in measurement.
  2. Figures for English and maths are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  3. 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.
  4. Prior attainment is primarily determined by GCSE grade achieved in year 11. Grade levels are categorised as follows: Grade U includes those labelled as '0', 'X', and 'Q', Grade 1 includes those previously classified as G in the legacy system, Grade 2 includes those previously classified as E or F in the legacy system and Grade 3 includes those previously classified as D in the legacy system.
  5. Figures for pupil characteristics are based on those educated in the mainstream state-funded sector in year 11, therefore overall attainment rates differ to headline measures (see the 'About this publication' section) although trends are comparable.
  6. See accompanying methodology for definitions of characteristics.