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 2017/18 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 tables, 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 for state-funded mainstream institutions which take 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.
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 tables 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 2017/18, and focuses on activity during the two years after they last attended a 16 to 18 provider.
Underlying cohort changes for this cohort
The cohort for this Progression measure is comprised of students who predominantly studied level 3 qualifications during their 16-18 study period. However, when deciding at which level to place a student who studied multiple qualification types at different levels, our process gives precedence to the qualifications that are included in the performance tables.
In 2018 the list of requirements placed on a vocational qualification for its inclusion in performance tables was extended, with the result that many applied general qualifications (AGQs) and tech levels were removed. Many students studying these qualifications in the 2017/18 cohort featured in this statistical release were thus reclassified from AGQ/Tech-Level to “Other level 3”, and those that had additionally studied any approved level 2 qualifications were exempted from the measure as “Level 2” students. This shift in the cohort configuration accounts for most of the large interannual change seen in this year's results.
How does the value-added score (or “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 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 +10 thus represents a ten 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.
Bands have been determined for providers to help put their scores in context. These take into account 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. For these purposes they are referred to as “Progression scores” rather than "Value-added scores".
Impact of Covid-19 on destination measures
As this publication is looking at activity in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years it is mostly unaffected by the COVID-19 disruption. The only exception to this is data for students progressing to apprenticeships in the 2019/20 academic year. This is because the methodology takes into account whether students have sustained an apprenticeship for 6 months at anytime in the 2019/20 academic year (August 2019 and July 2020), rather than the first two terms for other destinations.