Progression to higher education or training shows the percentage of students that sustain an education course or apprenticeship at level 4 or higher in the two years following their 16 to 18 study. The most recent data reports on students who completed 16 to 18 study in the 2018/19 academic year and identifies their education and/or apprenticeship destinations in the two years following their last attendance at a 16 to 18 institution.
The measure is designed to complement the existing destination measures (Destinations after KS4 and 16-18 study) which provide more information on the destinations that are not featured here such as employment and further study at level 3 or below. These measures are produced for a number of purposes, including to assist with provider choice and encourage provider improvement via the school performance data, and to inform the public and stakeholders for policy development.
This progression measure differs from the original measures in that it uses a two-year destination window (rather than one) in order to better report students that take gap years and similar breaks. It also calculates value-added scores which take both prior attainment at GCSE and main qualification type into account.
Timeliness of data
There is a time lag between students completing their 16 to 18 study and this measure being published. Two years have to elapse during which young people are participating in their chosen destination, and datasets have to be combined before measuring sustained participation in education or apprenticeships. This publication reports on students that completed their 16 to 18 study in summer 2019, and considers their destination activity up to summer 2021.
What is a ‘sustained’ destination?
To be counted in a level 4 or higher destination, students have to be recorded as having sustained participation for a 6 month period in the two-year destination window. This participation can include activity in a single destination or a combination, as long as there are six consecutive months at level 4 or higher.
Who is included in the cohort?
This measure is restricted to students that studied level 3 qualifications as there is less expectation for students studying qualifications at lower levels to progress to level 4 or higher. It thus includes students that studied academic qualifications such as A levels, applied general qualifications, technical levels, or other qualifications that have not been included in performance data but are notionally level 3. State-funded mainstream schools and colleges are included. The cohort includes students who completed their 16 to 18 study in 2018/19, and focuses on activity during the two years after they last attended a 16 to 18 provider.
How does the value-added score (“Progression score”) work?
The probability of a student progressing to a level 4 or higher destination is strongly correlated with their prior attainment at key stage 4 (GCSE and equivalents) and the qualification type they study at 16 to 18. An institution that starts with an intake of high-prior-attainment pupils will naturally have a higher rate of progression to level 4+ than an institution with an intake of low-prior-attainment pupils. For this reason we calculate a “value-added” score which is presented alongside the progression rate, and is an indication as to how the institution has performed once prior attainment and qualification types are taken into account. The score is calculated by comparing each individual student’s outcome (a 1 if they progress to level 4 or higher, a 0 if they do not) against the national average for the group of students nationally with similar prior attainment and qualification type. If, for example, 85% of the highest-prior-attainment academic students progressed to higher education or training nationwide, then an individual student in that group will score 1 – 0.85 = +0.15 if they progress, but 0 – 0.85 = -0.85 if they do not.
These individual student scores are then averaged for the institution and multiplied by 100 to obtain the VA score. A VA score of e.g. +7 thus represents a seven percentage point increase on progression into level 4 or higher destinations for that institution (or group) than similar students nationally. A VA score of zero shows that progression for that group was as expected according to the national average.
At institution level we also include confidence intervals, as the score is likely to be a more accurate representation of the value added by the institution for larger cohorts than small ones.
Individual student scores have also been averaged at local authority level, parliamentary constituency level, national level, and for various characteristics.
Impact of Covid-19 on destination measures
This publication is looking at destination activity across the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years, and so the results may have been affected by the COVID-19 disruption. The majority of sustained progression destinations will have been completed by March 2020, just before the first lockdown began at the end of that month; however destinations that would normally have been achieved in the second year may have been affected.