Methodology

16-18 destination measures

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  1. Updated to reflect latest published statistics - October 21

Introduction to destination measures

What are destination measures?

The headline measure shows the percentage of students staying in education, apprenticeships or employment for at least two terms in the year after completing their phase of study. This year, data is based on students identified as having completed their 16 to 18 study by 2018/19 and their sustained activity in the year following their last recorded attendance. 

Destination measures also show the percentage of students with sustained participation in 

  • education destinations including further education and higher education institutions (HEI)
  • apprenticeships
  • employment
  • and those who did not have sustained participation in education, apprenticeships or employment.

 All data in the 2019/20 destinations of 16 to 18 (key stage 5) students publication are obtained from matched administrative datasets and require no additional data collection. 

 Why we publish destination measures  

We publish destination measures to 

  • provide clear and comparable information on the success of schools and colleges in helping their students continue in education, apprenticeships or employment
  • encourage institutions to make sure their students receive the support needed to prepare for and take up education, apprenticeships or employment that offers good long-term prospects

Background to the 16 to 18 (KS5) destination measures  

The 16 to 18 destination measures were published for the first time in 2012 and covered students included in the 2008/09 performance tables and their destinations in 2009/10.  

Until the October 2016 provisional publication, all data was released as experimental statistics. 

The provisional 2014/15 destination release was the first to include the new administrative data from the longitudinal education outcomes (LEO) dataset, meaning coverage was high at both key stages. See Annex 1 for the full history and timeline.

Changes included in 2019/20

No major changes have been incorporated into the 2019/20 destination measures methodology since the publication of the 2018/19 revised data in January 2021.  

As this publication is looking at activity in the first two terms of  the 2019/20 academic year it is mostly unaffected by the COVID-19 disruption.  The only exception to this is data for students progressing to apprenticeships, 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.  Please see the ‘constructing the measure’ section for full details on destination definitions.

Constructing the measure

Identifying the Cohort  

The 16 to 18 destination publication reports on students who were deemed to have completed 16 to 18 study. For inclusion in the 16 to 18 cohort, students are identified as having completed their 16 to 18 study by 2018/19 and their destination activity is counted in the year following their last recorded year of attendance.

The base cohort includes students in English schools and colleges. The coverage of destinations is explained in the ‘Data sources’ section below.

At 16 to 18, the flexible year methodology means the cohorts may not necessarily align with the 2018/19 cohorts published in the 16 to 18 attainment performance tables.

A student is included in the school/college figure if they have been flagged in the data as being included in the school/college ‘number on roll’. Even if the student is included in more than one school/college, they should only appear once in the LA total and once in the national total.

16 to 18 cohort

The 2018/19 destination measure cohort consists of young people who reached the end of study in the 2018/19 academic year and includes students at levels (level 3, level 2, level 1 and entry level qualifications). There is also a number for whom a level could not be determined.

Students were reported as having reached the end of 16 to 18 study in 2018/19 by means of satisfying one of three criteria:

i) having been allocated to the same provider for two years

ii) having been entered for at least two qualifications the size of an A level or one qualification the size of two A levels

iii) having reached the age of 18 and having not been previously reported in the performance tables

Students studying a mixture of qualifications will have their destination reported once against a single qualification type. This will be an approved qualification if any were taken, and then decided by the size of the qualifications taken, with a higher level chosen in the event of a tie.

Previously students that were deemed to have completed 16 to 18 study in the cohort year but had last been allocated to their institution in a previous year were not in scope. Since the 2016/17 cohort, they are in scope, with the destination year chosen to follow immediately their most recent allocation. For example, a student that was last on roll at an institution in 2016/17 but did not spend two years at the institution or complete qualifications equivalent in size to two A levels might be deemed to be at the end of 16 to 18 study in 2018/19 (when they reach the age of 18). This student will now be included in the 2018/19 cohort, but unlike most of the cohort (who have their destination activity recorded in 2019/20), this student will have activity during 2018/19 considered for their destination.

The destination measures 16 to 18 cohort is for state-funded mainstream schools, independent schools, maintained, non-maintained and independent special schools plus sixth-form colleges, other further education (FE) colleges and other FE providers.

16 to 18 special schools

Due to small numbers, the figures for special schools are shown as a combined total covering state-funded, non-maintained and independent special schools.

Education destinations: data sources and definitions

The national pupil database

Data from the national pupil database (NPD) were used to calculate education destinations. The NPD is a longitudinal database linking pupil/student characteristics (for example age, gender and ethnicity) to school and college learning aims and attainment information for children in schools in England. Four administrative data sources used in compiling the NPD have been used to determine the education destinations, namely:

  • Individualised learner record (ILR) covering English colleges, further education (FE) providers and Specialist post-16 institution (SPIs)
  • School census (SC) covering English schools. This includes state-funded and non-maintained special schools and pupil referral units (PRU)
  • Awarding body data for independent schools
  • Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) covering United Kingdom higher education institutions and English higher education alternative providers.

The matching of these databases was undertaken at individual level using personal characteristics such as name, date of birth and postcode.

Deferred HE offers (including ‘gap year’ students) 

Data on deferred HE entries from Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is no longer incorporated into 16 to 18 destination measures as university entrants after gap years are now captured in the ‘Progression to higher education or training’ measure.

Calculation of sustained participation in education destinations

To be included in the measure, students have to be recorded in sustained participation in all of the first two terms of the year at one or more education destinations. This encourages schools and colleges to support and prepare their students to progress to a destination that offers sustained engagement.

Sustained participation is defined to be between October 2019 and March 2020 in the 2019/20 academic year, as this addresses change at the start of the academic year, where students may switch courses or start later. It is also the measurement period that is closest to the point at which the student left their former school or college, so is the period over which the institution has most influence. Sustained participation was mainly calculated using recorded start and end dates for their participation within each of the relevant datasets.

Calculation of sustained participation in the ILR, HESA and school census

Sustained participation was calculated using recorded start and end dates for participation within each of the relevant datasets.

We count there as being participation in a given month if attendance (or a learning aim) is present for at least one day – for example it starts on at least the last day of the month, or if it ends on or after the first day of the month.

If a student is found in multiple datasets with the same kind of activity (for example level 4+ study in an HEI in HESA data for three months, followed by level 4+ study in an FE college in ILR data for three months), the participation is aggregated to provide a single destination (in this case HE).

Calculation of sustained participation in awarding body data

For participation in independent schools, the awarding body data has information on which season the pupil sat their exam(s) and this has been used to provide an indication of participation. For example, if a pupil sat an exam in winter 2019, it can be surmised the pupil had three months’ participation. If the pupil sat an exam in summer 2020, it has been assumed the pupil fulfilled the full six months’ participation from October 2019 to March 2020.

Calculation of sustained participation in specialist post-16 institutions (SPI)

Sustained participation in SPIs is calculated from ILR data using start and end dates.

Participation with different providers: ‘Education combination’ line

Students who have completed the required six months but with two different providers, (for example two months in a school sixth form followed by four months in a FE college) were included in the measures, reported in the ‘other education’ line as an ‘education combination’. The two blocks can be of unequal length, but they must completely cover the 6-month participation period. One of the blocks can be participation in an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship destinations: data sources and definitions

The national pupil database

As with education destinations, data from the national pupil database (NPD) were used to calculate apprenticeship destinations, specifically.

  • Individualised learner record (ILR) covering English colleges, further education (FE) providers and Specialist post-16 institution (SPIs) and other apprenticeship providers

Calculation of sustained participation in apprenticeships

To be counted in an apprenticeship, students have to be recorded in sustained participation for 6 consecutive months at any time during the destination year. This differs from the education and employment October to March requirement as apprenticeships have varying start points in the year.

February of the destination year is the latest possible month to start an apprenticeship and still achieve the 6 months consecutive participation within the next academic year meaning that all counted apprenticeships will overlap the October to March benchmark.

Sustained participation is defined to be any consecutive 6 months participation in an ILR recorded apprenticeship between August 2019 and July 2020. Sustained participation was calculated using recorded start and end dates for their participation against recorded, recognized apprenticeship activity.

Apprenticeship levels

Apprenticeships may be:

  • intermediate (level 2)
  • advanced (level 3)
  • higher (including degree) (levels 4 to 7)

If a student has apprenticeship participation at more than one level and more than one level is maintained for a full 6 months (either overlapping or consecutively) the highest level is reported.

If a student does not have participation in an apprenticeship at any one level for 6 months (but taken together the apprenticeships make up a consecutive 6-month period) the level that was ongoing most recently is reported.

For example, if a young person starts an intermediate apprenticeship in January and after 3 months switches to an advanced apprenticeship for the remaining 4 months they are reported as level 3.

Comparisons with earlier years

For destinations in 2016/17 and onwards, a new methodology was used to count apprenticeships. Care should be exercised when making comparisons with earlier published data. To permit worthwhile comparisons between years, the new apprenticeship methodology has been applied to destinations data from previous years to create an updated back series and is available in the current, published underlying data.

Employment: data sources and definitions

Longitudinal education outcomes data

The Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) dataset extends the national pupil database by linking employment, earnings and benefits data from other government departments to education data at an individual level. It is used to calculate employment destinations and to identify students with no sustained destination who are claiming out-of-work benefits. The administrative datasets used are as follows:

  • P45 and self-employment data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • out-of-work benefit data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

The matching of this data used the same methods as the education datasets outlined above.

16 to 18 destination measures for the years 2010/11 to 2013/14 were updated to include new employment and benefits data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from the LEO dataset. These revised estimates were published in a series of statistical working papers in August 2016. Time series data for these years, referenced in the statistical publications, are taken from those statistical working papers.

From 2016/17, destinations include self-employment from HMRC self-assessment data. If a student is found in the P45 data and the self-employed data simultaneously, the participation is aggregated to provide a single employment destination in line with the methodology for other destinations.

National Client Caseload Information System (NCCIS) data

The NCCIS is a secure system that takes a data feed directly from the local databases (CCIS) that each English local authority maintains to support their work with students. It records activity of students including employment, training and whether students are considered to be not in education, employment or training (NEET).

From 2016/17 destination measures for 16 to 18 no longer include data collected by local authorities from the NCCIS dataset. This was no longer required to be collected by local authorities from September 2016 for students aged 18 or over.

Removal of the NCCIS data at 16 to 18 from 2014/15 onwards means there is a small break in the time series data and direct comparison between 2014/15 onwards and previous years should be treated with caution, however the impact on coverage of employment is small, as almost all destinations in the source are also available through LEO.

Calculation of sustained participation in employment

Employment participation is counted providing the student had been in work (or training) at any time during that month, and regardless of hours worked. Sustained participation for employment was counted if there was some participation in at least 5 of the 6 months. This is different to the 6 months used in the education methodology, as explained below. 

In development of the measure, analysis highlighted many cases where sustained participation periods of employment were interspersed with a single month of ‘something else’. This often took the form of being reported NEET or claiming out-of-work benefits. Many of the students then continued in employment beyond the 6-month participation period.

As there is less permanency and security with employment than in education, this is taken into consideration in the methodology. A single month period of ‘something else’ is therefore permissible within the 6-month period.

 If the ‘something else’ occurred during the final month (March) of the 6-month period, then the next month’s (April) activity is checked. April must be recorded as employment for the participation criteria to be met.

Education/employment/apprenticeship combinations

Students are allocated to destinations in the order

  • Apprenticeships
  • Education
  • Employment

In some cases, a sustained destination is achieved through joining periods of consecutive activity, for example, an education destination can be achieved through a period in school sixth form followed by a period of time in a FE college which, when combined, fulfil the 6-month sustainability criteria for an education destination.

Other students fulfil the 6-month criteria by combining across types of participation, for example, apprenticeship activity with education activity. When this occurs, students are allocated to destinations as follows

  • Apprenticeship combined with education – education destination
  • Employment combined with either apprenticeship or education – employment destination.

 Students are permitted only one change of participation during the 6-month period.

Additional information

Destination not sustained

Students whose records show that they did not have continuous participation in employment or education in the 6-month period from October to March but for whom we have some activity captured in our data. It primarily captures those students just missing out on sustained participation. A student would be included in this reporting line if:

They had participated in education, employment or an apprenticeship during the academic year but did not complete the required six months’ participation. This could include periods of being  known to be claiming out-of-work benefits at some time during the destination year.  

They had no participation recorded and were known to be claiming out-of-work benefits at some time during the destination year.

No activity captured in the data 

Some students have no education, employment or apprenticeship activity recorded in any of the destinations datasets. Students are included in this category if:

They are identified in the Department for Work and Pensions’ Customer Information System as having been issued with a national insurance number, but have no recorded education, employment or training participation in the United Kingdom or benefit claim activity in Great Britain.

They are missing from destination measures because their education, employment and benefits status is unknown and there is no record of a National Insurance number allocation (either because they have never received one or because no successful match has been made in our data).

Hierarchy of destinations

As an apprenticeship is a large programme that incorporates both paid employment and work towards qualifications (which may be delivered by a further education college, higher education institution or other provider) it is assumed to be a young person’s main activity. If maintained for 6 months, it will be reported as their destination even if conditions for participation in education or employment are met.

It would be expected that students in an apprenticeship would also be recorded as being in both education and in employment in the administrative data.

Students who have sustained participation in education throughout the period are reported as being in a sustained education destination and not shown as in employment, even if they were in employment alongside their study.

Double counting across destinations

A number of pupils have participation in more than one destination (i.e., more than one dataset) simultaneously. A series of rules ensure that a young person is reported in only one destination category. Prior to 2016/17 destinations, a small number of double counts remained across some education destinations. These have now been eliminated by the inclusion of additional destination allocation rules.

Apprenticeships and education

Apprentices may have learning aims for qualifications that form a part of their apprenticeship programme, or additional learning aims, undertaken at the same time. Given the nature and size of an apprenticeship programme, this is assumed to be their main activity and if it is continued for six months, they will be reported as being in an apprenticeship (even if they also meet the education criteria).

Education providers

Young people may be enrolled in different types of study or at different provider types at the same time. We have put in place processes to ensure that the setting reported is their ‘main’ place of study wherever possible:

  • Students are allocated to HE if they have any study aims at level 4 or above which continue for the full six months, even if they also took part in FE study.
  • An exception is made for HE course aims offered only for credits (which may be offered through outreach schemes for example to provide higher education modules in schools). These are excluded if students have participation at another provider type.
  • Unfunded students in the ILR (who are not funded by Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)) are removed if they also have primary participation in other datasets.
  • Students recorded as having an enrolment status of ‘subsidiary’ or ‘not known’ in the school census (i.e., they carry out some learning there but have a main registration in another institution) are removed if they also have primary participation in other datasets.
  • Students recorded in more than one type of institution simultaneously (for example a sixth form college and an FE college) were allocated to the provider at which they had the largest volume of aims recorded or, if this was equal, to the institution where they carried out a core learning aim.
  • Some destinations have been identified using HESA alternative provider data where they are on courses classified as ‘non-designated’. As the level or quality of the study cannot be determined, students are only allocated to a non-designated destination if they have not been identified in any other education destination.

Time lag  

Creation of the destination measures requires the defined cohort to complete participation in the destination year. At the end of the destination year, the relevant administrative data is matched to the national pupil database (NPD) to enable destinations to be identified and reported. This means that there is a time lag between the cohort completing a key stage and the reporting of their destinations. This time lag has been reduced as far as possible.

Comparisons with previous years

Some of the differences across years may be attributable to the tightening of methodology or the improvements in data matching, so comparisons across years must be treated with caution.

For 16-18, employment destinations have been revised to include LEO data from 2010/11 but, from 2014/15 onwards, NCCIS is no longer used. See our statistical working papers published in August 2016 for further information.

In 2015/16, data on higher education alternative providers (HEAPs) and on self-employment were added. These are expected to have a small impact accounting for just over 1% of students having sustained destinations at 16 to 18. Previous years have not been revised.

In 2016, the rules used for deciding when students reach the end of 16 to 18 study changed. This affects 2016/17 destinations published in 2018. As well as A levels, students studying other approved level 3 qualifications (applied general qualifications and tech levels) are included, along with students who studied approved qualifications equivalent in size to a single AS level if they met one of the other end-of-study criteria. Students who reached the end of 16 to 18 study but did not have an institution allocated in 2016/17 were excluded.

In 2016/17, the way apprenticeships are counted now includes 6 months sustained participation and they are counted as a primary destination. The new methodology was applied to previous years to create a back series for comparisons in the latest publication but care should be taken when viewing data from previous publications.

In previous years, the 16-18 cohort only contained students who were entered for approved Level 3 qualifications. In 2016/17, the 16 to 18 cohort has been expanded to include not just students of approved level 3 qualifications (A levels, applied general qualifications and tech levels) but all level 3, level 2, level 1 and entry level qualifications. Previously students who were deemed to have completed 16 to 18 study in the cohort year but had last been allocated to their institution in a previous year were not in scope. From the 2016/17 cohort onwards, they are in scope, with the destination year chosen to follow immediately their most recent allocation.

The cohort of students who mainly took approved level 3 qualifications in 2017/18 is different to the preceding year (2016/17 cohort) as many qualifications were no longer recognised in 16 to 18 performance tables in 2018. This is due to recent reforms to technical and applied qualifications. This means that the “approved level 3” cohort breakdowns between the two years are not directly comparable.

Defining the destinations

Destination breakdowns

Table 1: Destination breakdowns reported

Destination  Definition  
Number of students (cohort)This is the total number of students in the 2018/19 cohort and was used to create the denominator for the measure.  
Overall going to a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destinationOverall going to a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination.
Total in a sustained education destination

Students that have gone on to any form of sustained education destination. This contains no double counting.  

  

Further education college and other FE provider Students that have gone on to FE colleges or other FE providers, as identified by the ILR to study at level 3 or below. Further education courses at HEIs are also included, identified through HESA records.
Further education levelThe level of further education study as defined by the learning aims.
Higher education

Students that have gone on to universities or other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), as identified in HESA data to study at level 4 or above.

This includes designated courses at higher education alternative providers (HEAPs) from 2017/18. Higher education courses at FE providers are also included, identified through ILR.

Other education destinations   Includes categories below:
Independent school Pupils that have gone on to independent schools. These destinations were identified from awarding body data.
Sustained education combination  

Students could be identified as completing a first period of learning at one type of institution then moving to another type of institution to continue their learning. Providing they fulfilled the sustained participation criteria across institution types, they were counted in the measure and reported in this line. This is different from the double counts where students were attending a school and a college at the same time, with an equal number of learning aims at both, over the six-month period.  

This combination line includes apprenticeships.

School sixth form – state funded Students that have gone on to school sixth forms to study at level 3 or below. These destinations were identified from school census data.
Sixth-form college 

Students that have gone on to sixth-form colleges, as identified by the ILR to study at level 3 or below.

This category includes sixth-form colleges that converted to 16-19 academy status and continue to return the ILR.

Specialist provision  Includes special schools and specialist post-16 providers.
Non-designated provisionStudents undertaking a non-designated course at an HE alternative provider.
Apprenticeships

Students were counted as being in a sustained apprenticeship if they had 6 consecutive months participation on an ESFA funded apprenticeship at any time during the destination year. 

They are identified within the ILR data by means of the aim type and programme type in line with other FE analysis.

Apprenticeship levelThe level of apprenticeship as defined by the core learning aim.
Sustained employment destination

Students that have gone on to sustained employment or training (including a combination of education/apprenticeship and employment to meet the sustained definition).

  

Not recorded as a sustained destinationThis includes pupils who were captured in the destination source data but who failed to meet the sustained participation criteria; it covers students who had participated in education, apprenticeships or employment during the academic year but did not complete the required six months sustained participation or were known to be claiming out-of-work benefits at some time during the destination year.
Activity not captured in the data

The student was not found to have any participation in education, apprenticeship or employment nor recorded as receiving out-of-work benefits at any point in the year.

Possible reasons for this could be that the pupil was living, working or studying abroad or was attending a Scottish or Welsh college or school.

Some students were identified as being DWP/HMRC customers and had been issued with a national insurance number but no employment of benefit data was recorded for them.

The remainder of the students  were not found in any data. These students may have participation that was not correctly matched to the individual.

FE providers  

A number of students were identified as attending more than one type of FE institution simultaneously or as attending different types of FE institutions sequentially. To ensure no double counting was introduced and avoid confusion with the education combination reporting line, the following methodology was used to allocate FE institution types:  

  • Any student identified in more than one FE institution type was allocated to where most of their learning was carried out, according to their learning aims.
  • Any student with an equal number of aims at the same level in two different FE institution types was allocated arbitrarily by UKPRN.

In addition, a number of students were identified within the HESA data as being registered for FE level study i.e., they were undertaking FE study within a HEI. These students were also reported in the ‘Further education and other FE provider’ category.  

The FE study level attributed to a student is the highest level studied at the allocated destination institution. 

Other HE Providers

A number of students were identified within the ILR data as having higher education (HE) aims i.e., there were students undertaking higher education learning within a further education institution. These students were identified as having HE aims by looking at variables such as HEFCE funding, level 4 aims and an indicator that HE data was collected for this particular aim. If a student was identified and had all HE aims, the student would be counted in the HEI reporting line and included under ‘Other HE institutions or providers’.

Data is included on students in Higher Education Alternative Providers (HEAPs). Students undertaking designated courses at these providers have been included as being in higher education. 

Characteristics information

Data sources and timing 

Information on gender was captured at the latest year available (for example in year 13) from NPD, which includes data from census (schools), ILR (colleges) and awarding body data (independent schools).  

Information on ethnicity was captured at the latest year available (for example in year 13) for students in schools from the census. The ILR does not collect information on ethnicity. Data on ethnicity in colleges was based on the student’s school census record in year 11, where available.  

Free school meal eligibility and disadvantage status were captured from NPD data as at year 11, for all students.  

Ethnicity  

Major ethnic groupMinor ethnic groups included
WhiteWhite British, White Irish, Traveller of Irish Heritage, Gypsy/Roma, any other white background 
MixedWhite and Black Caribbean, White and Black African, White and Asian, any other mixed background 
AsianIndian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, any other Asian background 
BlackBlack Caribbean, Black African, any other black background 
ChineseChinese 
Other ethnic group‘Other’ ethnic group. Any other ethnic group not included above
UnclassifiedRefused or Information not yet obtained

Special Educational Needs

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provisions in the Children and Families Act 2014 were introduced on 1 September 2014. From September 2014, children or young people who are newly referred to a local authority for assessment are considered under the new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan assessment process.

The legal test of when a child or young person requires an EHC plan remains the same as that for a statement under the Education Act 1996. Transferring children and young people with statements to EHC plans will be phased and in 2017/18 the transfer was completed for KS4 data. In addition, the previous ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’ categories were replaced by ‘SEN support’. Some legacy categories remain in the 16 to 18 data.

See the SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 for more detailed information on the reforms.  

Students with special educational needs are currently classified in the 16 to 18 release as follows:

SEN category description 
Identified SENStudents recorded as either having a SEN Support in place or as having a Statement of special educational needs (statement) or Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

16 to 18 Students with SEN and Learners with LDD

Destinations after 16 to 18 study are shown for students with SEN in schools and learners with learning difficulties and disabilities (LLDD) in colleges. College data is self-identified and records a learning difficulty and/or disability in the individualised learner record (ILR) whilst schools identify students with SEN in the school census.

SEN indicators were taken from the 2017/18 school census at 16-18 and LLDD indicators were taken from 2017/18 ILR. Learners were included if they had an indicator at any point during the year. As SEN is only applicable for students in schools and LLDD is only applicable for colleges, information is presented in separate tables for schools and colleges.

Disadvantaged pupils

We show destinations for disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils.

Disadvantaged pupils are defined as those who were eligible for the pupil premium when in year 11. In 2018/19, this included pupils who had:

  • been eligible for free school meals at any point in the previous six years
  • been looked after by their local authority for at least 1 day
  • left care through adoption, a special guardianship order, or a child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order).

This information comes from the school census and local authority records.

For the 16 to 18 cohort, their disadvantage status in year 11 is used. Pupil premium funding was introduced in 2011; however, there have been some minor changes to the rules for eligibility each year, affecting a small number of pupils.

16-18 students who had not attended a state-funded school in England in year 11 (for example because they were in independent schools, in other parts of the UK, or overseas) are not known to be disadvantaged and are included in all other pupils.

Prior attainment

The measures of achievement shown are published as accountability measures at the key stage in question. Achievement at both key stage 2 and 4 is taken from the end of key stage 4 pupil attainment file.

Key stage 2 prior attainment (achievement at age 11) is based on the pupils’ assessments at the end of primary school in reading, writing and mathematics. Key stage 2 prior attainment bands are also used as prior attainment for published key stage 4 attainment measures.

Attainment breakdownDescription
above level 4 (high attainers)Achieved level 5 or above in all areas. Above the expected standard.
At level 4 (middle attainers)Achieved level 4 or above in all areas. At the expected standard.
Below level 4 (low attainers)Achieved level 3 or below in at least one area. Below the expected standard.
no prior attainment recorded

Includes pupils absent on the day or not taking the tests for other reasons; as well as pupils who were in independent schools not taking these assessments; or not in England at age 11.

At 16 to 18, students with no match to a key stage 4 record are included in this group.

Key stage 4 (prior) attainment (achievement at age 16) is based on the pupils’ GCSE and equivalent results in English and maths at the end of secondary school. Passes in English and maths will continue to be assessed in future years and will tie closely to conditions for post-16 funding and accountability.

Pre 2017/18

Attainment breakdownDescription
Achieved A*-C in English & maths GCSEs (level 2)Achieved A*-C grades in relevant qualifications in both English and maths.
Did not achieve A*-C in English & maths GCSEsDid not achieve A*-C grades in relevant qualifications in both English and maths. This includes pupils achieving grades D or below in at least one subject and pupils who completed key stage 4 but had no recorded entry to a relevant qualification.
no prior attainment recordedNo prior attainment recorded: at 16-18  this includes students with no match to a key stage 4 record. Students in this group are likely not to have been in schools in England before 16-18 study.

2017/18 onwards

Attainment breakdownDescription
Achieved 9-5 in English & maths GCSEs (level 2)Achieved 9-5 grades in relevant qualifications in 2017 reformed English and maths GCSEs. Grade 5 in the new grading is a similar level of achievement to a high grade C or low grade B in the old grading. Attainment in English and maths at grade 5 and above was introduced as the headline school accountability measure in 2017, replacing attainment in English and maths at grade C and above.
Did not achieve 9-5 in English & maths GCSEsDid not achieve 9-5 grades in relevant qualifications in 2017 reformed English and maths GCSEs. This includes pupils achieving grades 4 or below in at least one subject and pupils who completed key stage 4 but had no recorded entry to a relevant qualification.
Achieved 9-4 in English & maths GCSEs (level 2)Achieved 9-4 grades in relevant qualifications in 2017 reformed English and maths GCSEs. We continue to show this measure for transparency and comparability with results that precede the 2017 GCSE reform.
Did not achieve 9-4 in English & maths GCSEsDid not achieve 9-4 grades in relevant qualifications in 2017 reformed English and maths GCSEs. This includes pupils achieving grades 3 or below in at least one subject and pupils who completed key stage 4 but had no recorded entry to a relevant qualification.
no prior attainment recordedNo prior attainment recorded: at 16 to 18 study this includes students with no match to a key stage 4 record. Students in this group are likely not to have been in schools in England before 16 to 18  study.

Geographic information

Geographic information is presented at regional, local authority (LA), parliamentary constituency and local authority district (LAD) level for areas within England.

Information on UK geographies can be found from the Office for National Statistics.

Where pupils and institutions are recorded

Students are reported in the area in which their school or college is located and not by home address (residency). In some cases, pupils will live in a different local authority area to the one they are reported in, including some pupils attending schools in England who live in Wales or Scotland.

Information on cross-border movements is published in the schools, pupils and characteristics statistical series.

At LA level, schools or colleges are recorded in their administrative local authority that may not reflect their postcode location. This differs from LAD level where schools and colleges are recorded in line with their postcode.

Opportunity areas

The opportunity areas programme was announced in October 2016. 12 areas have now been identified as the most challenged when it comes to social mobility, and will see local partnerships formed with early years’ providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and local authorities.

The 12 areas are:

West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, Scarborough (North Yorkshire Coast), Derby and Oldham, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland & East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

At 16 to 18, these are shown by the students’ key stage 4 school location.

Other Reporting Information

School Sixth Form Consortia/Feeders

Schools can engage in consortium arrangements for sixth form provision. Some schools report at school level and some report at consortia level

In institution tables, aggregate consortia results are reported under the institution type Sixth form centre/consortia. The exception is Harris Federation Post-16 sixth form consortium where only the aggregated results are reported at institution level and not individual feeder schools.

When aggregating up to Local Authority and national level from institutions, consortia are not included to avoid double counting.

Selective institutions

This publication includes data by selective school status and the groupings are defined as follows:

  • Selective schools
  • Non-selective schools in highly selective local authority areas
  • Non-selective schools in other local authority areas (including areas with low levels of selection)

A local authority area is deemed highly selective if 25% or more of secondary pupils attend selective schools. See Annex 2 for details of selective LA areas.

Data Quality and coverage

NPD matching

As outlined above, the destinations data are independently matched to the national pupil database (NPD). Linking between education datasets is believed to be very high quality, particularly for pupils formerly in state-funded schools, however, it is accepted that a small proportion of incorrect matches may have been made and that some genuine matches will have been missed, particularly where young people are in employment.

Higher education destinations from independent schools and HESA data in 2016/17

In 2016/17 a slightly different algorithm was used in matching the national pupil database. In 2016/17 this resulted in lower match rates specifically to young people who are treated as overseas or Scottish domiciled in 2016/17 higher education (HESA) data. Match rates to HESA students domiciled in England and Wales were unaffected.

Fewer overseas students in higher education in the UK were matched to school and college records in the 2017/18 national pupil database compared to previous years. This is due to a methodological change in how we match records. The overall impact of this change is very small but has a larger impact on independent schools (which have more international sixth form students).

How data is shown and data confidentiality

Disclosure control for confidentiality reasons

The Code of Practice for Statistics requires us to take reasonable steps to ensure that our published or disseminated statistics protect confidentiality. Where appropriate we apply disclosure control to protect confidentiality. 

The following symbols have been used in this publication: 

( 0 ) zero 

( c ) small number suppressed to preserve confidentiality or for accountability reasons 

( z ) not applicable 

( ~ ) positive % less than 0.5 

Small cohorts 

At institutional level, where cohorts are less than 6, all data are suppressed. This is to ensure that schools are not held to account for small cohorts of pupils rather than for confidentiality reasons. 

This does not apply to levels of data other than institutional level.

Low coverage 

In years before the 2017/18 publication, all outcomes were suppressed for a small number of state-funded institutions where the data-matching rate was low and could give a misleading representation of the institution’s performance. Institutions where fewer than 95% of students were matched to any of our data sources had all outcomes suppressed. Suppression for this reason is no longer applied.

Similar publications

Widening Participation in higher education 

The following measures looking at widening participation are published: 

  • Estimated proportions of pupils with and without free school meals (FSM) who progressed to higher education
  • Estimated proportions of pupils from independent and state schools progressing to higher education and progressing to the most selective higher education institutions (HEIs)

Further information can be found in the Widening participation measures publication.

Comparisons

There are some key differences between these measures and destination measures

  1. Scope: The destination measures consider those progressing to all destinations including higher education (HE), further education colleges and school sixth forms, and those going into employment, whilst the widening participation measure only considers those who progress to HE.
  2. Timing: In addition, the destination measures only include those who are in sustained participation during the first two terms after 16 to 18 study, whilst the widening participation measure is looking at HE participation by the time the students reach academic age 19, which is potentially a year after completing the qualifications.
  3. Coverage:
  • Widening participation free school meals measure: The widening measure covers pupils aged 15 in state-funded schools, by free school meal status at age 15, who entered HE by age 19. The 16-18 destination measure looks at students in the October to March after 16-18 study.
  • Widening participation most selective HEI measure: From this year the destinations measure cohort includes all qualifications at level 3, level 2, level 1, entry level and other students. Whilst the widening participation measure includes those who studied at least one A Level or equivalent qualification at academic age 17.

 

Adult further education: outcome-based success measures 

FE Outcomes based success measures cover the destinations, and progression of all adult (19+) FE and skills learners that achieved an eligible further education (FE) learning aim, all age Apprenticeship learners, and learners that completed a traineeship. Some earnings data are also produced for Adult FE & Skills and Apprenticeship learners.

The standard sustained positive destination measure shows the proportion of all adult learners who progress to a sustained destination into learning or employment (or both) following completion of their FE learning. 

More information can be found in the FE Outcomes based success measures publication. 

Comparisons

The timing of the ‘sustained’ destination definition is the same as for key stage 4 and 16-18 destinations. A similar range of administrative data sources are used to determine whether education or employment has been undertaken in the following year including HMRC / DWP data from LEO using Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) records and sole trader returns within self-assessed employment data. Some specific destination breakdowns shown may differ and are more appropriate to the learners included.

The main difference is coverage of learners by age and course type. FE outcome-based success measures cover adult learners (19+), along with all age Apprenticeships who have achieved an eligible funded course within the academic year. All age Traineeships that completed their learning aim are also included. This is broken down by the highest level of study aim, from entry level to level 4+. 

Participation in Education, Training and Employment statistical publication 

This statistical publication provides estimates of participation in education and training, and those who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) for 16, 17 and 18 year olds in England. All estimates relate to a snapshot of activities at the end of the calendar year, and are based on academic age, defined as age at the start of the academic year (31st August). 

Further information can be found in the Participation in Education, Training and Employment statistical first release.

Comparisons

Differences between the destination measures and the Participation statistical publication can be expected for two main reasons: 

  • Timing: the destination measures are based on a sustained destination over 6 months (October-March), whereas the Participation statistical publication just requires participation at a point in time, or snapshot, around the end of the calendar year.

As the destination measures’ requirement is for sustained participation, with all other things being equal, this will result in lower numbers of students being counted as being in an education or employment/training destination as they need to be participating for at least 6 months. 

  • Coverage: The Participation statistical publication covers a different cohort of students.

It estimates participation for the entire population of academic age 16 year olds in England, rather than those who had completed key stage 4 the previous year. Some pupils complete key stage 4 earlier or later than academic age 15 and not all 16 year olds had previously been in schools in England.

The destinations measure cohort includes all qualifications at level 3, level 2, level 1, entry level and other students 

The Participation statistical publication describes the activity for all young people in England of academic ages 16, 17 and 18 separately by age, irrespective of what they were doing in the previous year. 

Annexes

Annex 1: History of change and timeline

Publication DateCohortDetail

July 2012

 

2008/09 into 2009/10

 

Destination measures were published for first time as an experimental statistical publication for the 2008/9 KS4 and 16-18 cohorts into 2009/10 destinations. The cohort consisted of state-funded mainstream schools and colleges only and reported on education destinations only.

August 2013

 

2009/10 into 2010/11

The 2009/10 cohort into 2010/11 destinations were published as a statistical release and in performance tables. Destinations now included employment, training and young people NEET. Reporting at Parliamentary Constituency level was included. Destinations by student characteristics was included. For 16-18, the Top third selective HE breakdown was included. At KS4, education data was shared with schools and included in performance tables.

 

November 2014

 

2010/11 into 2011/12The 2010/11 cohort into 2011/12 destinations were published as a statistical release and in performance tables. The cohort was expanded to include independent mainstream schools and special schools for both key stages and pupil referral units and other alternative provision at KS4 only. Schools and colleges were separated in the 16-18 cohort. Destinations now included independent schools and special schools and also pupil referral units and other alternative provision at KS4. 

January 2015

 

2011/12 into 2012/13The 2011/12 cohort into 2012/13 destinations were published as a statistical release and in performance tables. Publication brought forward 6 months

October 2015

 

2012/13 into 2013/14The 2012/13 cohort into 2013/14 destinations were published as a statistical release and in performance tables. Independent mainstream schools were removed from the cohort and the remaining state-funded institutions were reported as provisional data.

January 2016

 

2012/13 into 2013/14The October 2015 publication was updated to include independent schools in the cohort and destinations to independent institutions were updated.

August 2016

 

2009/10 to 2012/13 cohortsTwo statistical working papers were published covering the inclusion of additional employment and benefit data for 16-18. The first publication updated the October 2016 statistical publication (2013/14 destinations) for state-funded mainstream institutions and the second paper updated the years 2010/11 to 2012/13 for all mainstream institution types.

October 2016

 

2013/14 into 2014/15The 2013/14 cohort into 2014/15 destinations were published as a statistical release and in performance tables as provisional data. Destinations data now included employment destinations from HMRC employment data and NEET information from DWP benefits data. Employment/training/NEET data from NCCIS was no longer used for 16-18 but retained for KS4. Destination measures were no longer classed as experimental. Destination measures become a headline accountability measure.

January 2017

 

2013/14 into 2014/15The October publication was revised. 16-18 destinations now published in performance tables. 
October 20172014/15 into 2015/16

Destinations from 16-18  Independent schools were included in the October publication. Hospital schools and FE colleges with 14-16 provision included in the cohort. 

Destinations now include higher education alternative providers from HESA and self-employment from HMRC.

Some further breakdowns included: destinations by prior attainment included at KS4 and 16-18, further characteristic breakdowns, local authority district figures.

Experimental data released on below level 3 cohorts and KS4 destinations after 3 years.

January 20182014/15 into 2015/16

Institutional level data only revised.

KS4 performance table’s data revised, 16-18 performance tables data published.

October 20182015/16 into 2016/17

Apprenticeships reported as a sustained primary destination.

Education destination double counts removed.

Formal .ods tables reduced in number and data released by way of underlying data table.

16-18  cohort definition altered to include all approved level 3 qualifications (A levels, applied general qualifications and tech levels) but to exclude students who did not study at their education institution in their final year (2016/17).

 

October 20192016/17 in 2017/18

16-18  cohort expanded from Level 3 approved to include all Level 3, Level 2, Level 1 and entry Level qualifications.

Flexi year approach adopted for 16-18 measure to record destination in the year after final attendance has been determined.

‘Progression to higher education or training’ measure published for the first time following on from experimental statistics published in 2018.

New disclosure control policy incorporated into the published data allowing significantly more data to be visible.

Underlying data now in machine-readable format.

Annex 2: Local authority areas with selective schools

Highly selective local authorities

Local authority codeLocal authority name
303Bexley
319Sutton
344Wirral
358Trafford
825Buckinghamshire
836Poole
871Slough
880Torbay
882Southend-on-Sea
886Kent
887Medway
925Lincolnshire

Local authorities with some selection 

Local authority codeLocal authority name
302Barnet
305Bromley
308Enfield
314Kingston upon Thames
317Redbridge
330Birmingham
335Walsall
336Wolverhampton
341Liverpool
381Calderdale
382Kirklees
815North Yorkshire
837Bournemouth
861Stoke on Trent
865Wiltshire
870Reading
878Devon
879Plymouth
881Essex
888Lancashire
894Telford and Wrekin
909Cumbria
916Gloucestershire
937Warwickshire