Methodology

Further education: outcome-based success measures

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  1. Updated to note the impact of missing self-assessment data

Background

What are FE outcome-based success measures?

The FE outcome-based success measures (FE OBSM) present statistics on the employment, earnings and learning outcomes of FE learners.

The headline measure (the sustained positive destination rate) shows the percentage of learners staying in education, employment (or both) for at least two terms in the year after they achieved their further education qualification. 

This publication uses matched administrative data from the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset, linking together learning data with benefits, employment and earnings data to produce statistics on the employment, earnings and learning outcomes of FE learners. Work will continue to improve the statistics as knowledge of the underlying data source develops.

The FE outcome-based success measures were published for the first time as experimental data in 2014, covering outcomes for learners achieving their FE qualifications in academic year 2010/11. The statistics have been released annually since then. This year, data is based on learners achieving an FE qualification during 2018/19 and their sustained activity in the 2019/20 academic year. The current release includes revised estimates for academic years prior to 2018/19 to make use of enhancements made to the data since the last publication.

Why do we publish FE outcome-based success measures?

We publish outcome-based success measures to:

  • provide clear and comparable information on the success of colleges and further education providers in preparing their students for continued education, apprenticeships, or employment 
  • encourage institutions to ensure their learners receive the necessary support to prepare for and take up education, apprenticeships or employment 
  • provide prospective learners with information on the successes of learners that studied similar aims in progressing onto further learning, or gaining employment

 

Data quality and coverage

Longitudinal Educational Outcomes dataset

The statistics in the publication are produced using the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) dataset. The LEO dataset has been brought together by different government departments and is being used to improve the information available on a range of topics across different policy areas.

The LEO dataset links information about individuals, including:

  • Personal characteristics such as gender, ethnic group and age.
  • Education, including schools, colleges and higher education institution attended, courses taken, and qualifications achieved.
  • Employment and income.
  • Benefits claimed.

It is created by combining data from the following sources:

  • The National Pupil Database (NPD) held by the Department for Education (DfE).
  • Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data on students at UK publicly funded higher education institutions and some Alternative Providers held by DfE.
  • Individualised Learner Record Data (ILR) on students at further education institutions held by DfE.
  • Employment data (P45 and P14) held by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
  • The National Benefit Database, Labour Market System and JUVOS data held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The privacy statement explaining how personal data in this project is shared and used is published here

Employment, earnings and benefit data

Employment and earnings data

The employment data and earnings estimates cover those with P45 and P14 records submitted through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system used to collect Income Tax and National Insurance from employment by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). These figures have been derived from administrative IT systems that, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. In addition, the data are primarily collected for the purposes of collecting taxes, so some data cleaning was necessary to improve the quality of any suspect employment records, such that the resulting data looks to provide a good reflection of an individual’s employment and earnings for the year. This data cleaning makes use of algorithms developed by researchers, and uses similar processes as documented in the research in Estimation of the labour market returns to qualifications gained in English further education.

Beginning in April 2013, the P45 reporting system was phased out in favour of the Real Time Information (RTI) system, which requires employers to submit information to HMRC each time an employee is paid. This system has now reached full deployment, however data predating this is still based on employer submissions of P14 and P45 data. 

RTI offers substantial improvements to the P45 system in terms of data coverage, since employers must now provide information on all their employees if even one employee of the company is paid above the Lower Earnings Limit. The move to RTI means that data coverage is high for the tax years from 2014/15 onwards that are used in this publication.

We can not currently distinguish between part-time and full-time work in the LEO data. This is further discussed in “Calculation of measures - Earning measures”.  

As well as employment data for those who pay tax through PAYE, the employment data additionally includes those who pay tax through self-assessment. 

Self-assessment forms are completed by a range of people who for example are self-employed, have received income from investments, savings or shares and by people who have complicated tax affairs. A list of people who are required to complete a self-assessment return can be found at www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns/who-must-send-a-tax-return. We receive a self-assessment earnings dataset from HMRC, which contains variables on: 

  • Earnings received through employment (PAYE)
  • Income from partnership enterprises
  • Income from sole-trader enterprises
  • Total earnings for the tax year from the self-assessment form.
Self-assessment records 2019/20

The self-assessment data feed for 2019/20 is missing approximately 23% of records for that year. This means that the sustained employment rate and sustained self-employment rate for 2018/19 achievers reported here are likely to be slightly lower than they should be (by an estimated 1 percentage point, approximately). Once the full self-assessment data for 2019/20 is received we will quantify the actual impact of this missing data and release an update to this release if proportionate. Otherwise, the outcomes will be updated as usual, in the next planned release.

Benefit data

Benefit data are taken from the underlying DWP payments systems and are supplemented by the information entered by Jobcentre advisers. The data therefore captures basic information accurately, but non-compulsory fields in either the labour market system or the payment system may be incomplete. Due to the size and technical complexity, these systems are not accessed directly, but at regular intervals, scans are taken that build up a longitudinal picture from repeated snapshots of the data.

Start dates are entered on to the system and are accurate dates of benefit payment, thus provide certain timing and duration of a benefit claim. However, while Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) dates have very few discrepancies, due to the way the data are scanned the end dates recorded for other benefits may diverge to some extent from the events they are recording. The potential discrepancy varies from up to two weeks for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to up to six weeks for Incapacity Benefit (IB). 

The Universal Credit Official Statistics dataset has been used to allow those claiming Universal Credit to be included in this publication. This is a relatively new dataset and we are continuing to work closely with colleagues at the Department of Work and Pensions to explore how best to use Universal Credit data in ‘FE outcome-based success measures’. 
The Universal Credit data is retrospectively updated each month when a new caseload snapshot is produced, but the full back series is not updated each time – one month is updated retrospectively and one new month is added. 

Education data

The national pupil database 

Data from the national pupil database (NPD) were used to calculate education history and to identify learning outcomes. 

The NPD is a longitudinal database linking pupil/student characteristics (e.g. age, gender and ethnicity) to school and college learning aims and attainment information for children in schools in England. 

Five administrative data sources used in compiling the NPD have been used to determine education history, 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 
  • Alternative provision (AP) census 
  • 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.

Individualised Learner Record data

The key data source used to identify the learners in scope for FE OBSM is the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) collection run by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), which is based on data returns from FE education colleges and training providers, about learners in the system and the learning undertaken by each of them. More background information on the ILR is available here.

The ESFA requirements for personal data, including National Insurance numbers, vary by the type of provision provided.

Other personal details fields have high completion rates although there is some use of defaults where information is not known and particular groups such as offender learners have information withheld.

The dates of learning can be assumed accurate to within a week. Key data fields are tied to funding therefore there is a strong incentive for providers to ensure the information returned is accurate.

Publication cycle

The publication cycle of the ‘Further education: outcome-based success measures’ spans four academic years from the beginning of the year in which learning took place to the publication being released.

The first two years allow for learning to take place and for learners to progress onto employment or learning destinations. During the third year data on learners’ destinations becomes available incrementally. It is only once all destination data has been released - almost two years after the end of the academic year in which the learning took place - that work on producing the statistics and publication can begin.

For a detailed breakdown of the publication process including data delivery schedule, refer to Table A below.

Table A - Publication data and production cycle

Time lags

All data used in this process are drawn from administrative sources, which take time to process and collate. Therefore, there are time lags between the reference period and availability of the dataset for analysis.

  • Benefit data taken from the National Benefits Database contain lags in completeness. At least 3 months is allowed for receipt of backdated claims and data are lagged by around 4 months. Data used in this publication is complete to the end of December 2020 and was released at the end of April 2021. 
  • Employment data have cleaning rules applied, which identify old records when updated with new information. As new information can come through about a job after it has ended this is a source of constant change and historically the data has been considered complete after approximately six months due to retrospection. Some data is retrospectively updated later than six month period, and in these instances will be reflected in the following publication. HMRC started to implement Real Time Information (RTI) in April 2013, which provided more frequent feeds of employment and earnings data and reduced the lag of the P14/45 data used in this publication to 3 months. 
    Self-assessment data covers the whole tax year and becomes available at the beginning of the following tax year, as a result the self-assessment data has a 12 month time lag.
  • Earnings data were less timely than employment data, and in the past, it has taken up to fifteen months after the end of the tax year for the data to be considered complete. HMRC started to implement Real Time Information (RTI) in April 2013, which provided more frequent feeds of employment and earnings data and reduced the lag of the P14/45 data used in this publication to 3 months. 
  • Individualised Learner Record data are collated from returns by colleges with the provisional data collected to date generally published on a quarterly basis. Returns are not generally complete until up to six months after the end of the academic year, which runs from 1st August to 31st July. This publication uses data that covers the whole academic year, which became available from November 2020.
  • Higher Education Statistics Authority data are collated from returns by institutions and data for the full academic year are available approximately six months after the end of the academic year.

Calculation of measures

Learners in scope for the measures

The FE outcome-based success measures cover all age apprenticeships, and adult (19+) Further Education (FE) and Skills learners that achieved an FE learning aim funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), and all age Traineeships who completed their aim. 

For each learner their highest and latest learning aim is selected for the purposes of this publication, as such figures are expected to be lower than those presented in the ‘Further education and skills’ National Statistics publication where each learning aim is reported on (see here for more detail on their methodology).

Eligible learning is identified using the Individualised Learning Record (ILR), in particular the achievement status and end date fields to identify learners that achieved. 

Adult learners are those that are at least academic age 19 in the year they achieve their qualification, i.e. in the case of learners achieving in 2013/14 this covers learners aged 19 or older on 31 August 2013. Outcomes are reported at a learner basis and learners appear once for each provider where they have achieved a qualification.

The measures do not cover learners funded through the Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS), or 16-19 FE and Skills learners. 

Learners with multiple learning aims

Outcomes are reported on a learner, rather than a learning aim basis. In the case where a learner achieves multiple aims within the academic year, outcomes are reported against their highest-level aim, unless they completed a traineeship in the year. Where a learner achieves two aims at the same level, the outcome is reported against the most recently achieved aim. The hierarchy used to select between aims is below

  • Highest qualification
    • Higher Apprenticeship
    • Level 4 (or higher)
    • Advanced Apprenticeship
    • Full Level 3 (including academic qualifications, e.g. A-Levels)
    • Other Level 3
    • Intermediate Apprenticeship
    • Full Level 2 (including academic qualifications, e.g. GCSEs)
    • Traineeships
    • Level 2 ESOL
    • Level 2 English and Maths
    • Other Level 2
    • Entry or Level 1 ESOL
    • Entry or Level 1 English and Maths
    • Other Entry or Level 1
    • Unassigned
  • Most recently achieved aim (if achieving more than one at the same level)

Where a learner achieves more than one aim at the same level and on the same date, outcomes are reported against the aim with the lowest aim sequence number (a unique number used when recording aims in the ILR).

Learners in scope for progression measures

Two progression measures that compare learning achieved or sustained learning outcomes to highest level of prior attainment are calculated for a subset of these learners in scope (namely, ‘achieving at this level for the first time’ and ‘progression for learner overall’). For the figures to be meaningful the department must have a learner’s entire educational history on record. As such, learners have only been included in this analysis when:

  • the learner’s full academic record is recorded in the NPD and ILR datasets, and
  • learners were born in or after 1988. This is as far back as the department’s data collection reaches, meaning the department would not hold the full educational history of learners born before this period and could not guarantee full coverage of their prior attainment.

The ‘progression from achieved aim’ measure which captures whether a learner has progressed into a higher level of sustained learning than the qualification achieved in the reporting year does not rely upon data relating to prior attainment, and so this measure is produced for the entire cohort of learners in scope.

Earnings measures

The earnings measures include estimates on the earnings outcomes of learners that have an earnings record on the P14 (HMRC data), a record of sustained employment on the P45 (HMRC data) and no record of further study at a Higher Education institution in that year. These figures focus on learners that achieved a Full Level 2, Full Level 3 or Level 4+ qualification in academic years 2010/11 to 2018/19 and their observed earnings after training up to the 2019/20 tax year.

They show what learners actually earned post study and include learners who may not have been employed in the same sector in which they achieved their apprenticeship or training. 

Benefit learners

Benefit learner status is determined using ILR data matched to DWP’s Customer Information System, rather than through any fields on the ILR itself. The DWP data are seen as more robust, and do not rely on the learner disclosing this information to their training provider. Learners are included in this measure if, on the day their training starts, they are claiming either:

  • Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA), or
  • Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG), or
  • Incapacity Benefit (IB), or
  • Carers allowance (ICA), or
  • Income support (IS), or
  • Pension credit (PC), or
  • Pass-ported injury benefit (PIB), or
  • Severe disability allowance (SDA), or
  • Jobseekers Training allowance JTA, or
  • Universal Credit and in conditionality groups; “Searching for Work”, “Working with Requirements”, “Planning for Work” and “Preparing for Work”.

If a learner achieves two eligible aims in the academic year, and those aims overlap (so that the learner is studying two aims for at least some part of the year) then the learner’s benefit status is measured the day of the earlier start date. For example if a learner achieved two eligible overlapping aims in the year 2014/15, and the highest aim started on 1 December 2014 but the other started on 1 July 2014, then their benefit status would be measured on the earlier date, on 1 July 2014.

Figure 1: Example of when benefit status is measured for learners with multiple overlapping aims.

Destination measures

Sustained employment

The sustained employment measure aims to count the proportion of learners in sustained employment following the achievement of their qualification. Employment destinations are produced by matching ILR data to HMRC tax records.

The definition of sustained employment is consistent with the definition used for 16-19 accountability. This looks at employment activity in the six month October to March period following the end of the academic year in which the learning aim took place. For 2018/19 achievers to be counted as in sustained employment:

  • A learner must have completed a self-assessed return for tax year 2019/20, or
  • A learner must be in paid PAYE employment in five out of the six months between October 2019 and March 2020.
  • A learner needs to be in paid PAYE employment for at least one day in a month for that month to be counted.
  • If a learner is employed in the five months between October 2019 and February 2020, but not in March 2020, then they must also be employed in April 2020.

Figure 2: The eight possible scenarios that would lead to a learner being classified as in sustained employment.

The measure allows for a one-month pause in PAYE employment to reflect that there may be more volatility in initial employment post learning. Where the pause is in March, activity in April is checked to see if it is a short pause or a more substantial break.

Sustained employment only

The sustained employment only measure reports on learners in ‘sustained employment’ excluding those that are also in ‘sustained learning’.

Sustained self-employment

If a learner is found in HMRC self-assessment data in the tax year following the achievement of their qualification they are flagged as self-employed and are subsequently counted in the sustained employment measure. 

Sustained further/higher education learning

The ‘sustained further education learning’, and ‘sustained higher education learning’ measures aim to count the proportion of learners in sustained FE or HE learning, regardless of economic activity, following the achievement of their qualification. Learning destinations are produced by matching ILR data to ILR data (the following year) and Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) data, respectively.

The definition of sustained learning for both measures is consistent with the definition used for 16-19 accountability. This looks at learning activity in the six-month October to March period following the end of the academic year in which the learning aim took place. For 2018/19 achievers to be counted as in sustained learning:

  • A learner must be in further education training (sustained further education) in each of the six months between October 2019 and March 2020.
  • A learner must be in higher education training (sustained higher education) in each of the six months between October 2019 and March 2020.
  • A learner needs to be in learning for at least one day in a month for that month to be counted.

Figure 3: The single scenario that would lead to a learner being classified as in sustained learning.

Sustained apprenticeship

The ‘sustained apprenticeship’ measures aims to count the proportion of learners who went on to study a sustained apprenticeship, following the achievement of their course. Learning destinations are produced by matching ILR data to ILR data (the following year).

The definition of sustained apprenticeships is consistent with the definition used for ‘Destinations of KS4 and KS5 pupils’ publication. This looks at apprenticeship activity in the year after the end of the academic year in which the learning aim took place. For 2018/19 achievers to be counted as in a sustained apprenticeship:

  • A learner must have had any 6 months consecutive apprenticeship learning.
  • A learner needs to be in learning for at least one day in a month for that month to be counted.

Figure 4: The single scenario that would lead to a learner being classified as in a sustained apprenticeship.

Sustained learning

The ‘sustained learning’ measure takes into account the ‘sustained further education’, ‘sustained higher education’, and ‘sustained apprenticeship’ measures. If a learner has met the criteria for one or more of these measures they will be included in the ‘sustained learning’ measure. 

Sustained learning only

The sustained learning only measure reports on learners in ‘sustained learning’ excluding those that are also in sustained employment.

Sustained employment and learning 

The sustained employment and learning measure reports on learners that were counted as being in both ‘sustained employment’, and ‘sustained learning’.

Sustained positive destination

The ‘sustained positive destination’ measure aims to count the proportion of learners with a sustained positive outcome, either into learning or employment (or both). For 2018/19 achievers to be counted as having a sustained positive destination, a learner must either:

  • Have a sustained positive employment outcome, or
  • Have a sustained positive learning outcome (including sustained apprenticeship), or
  • Be engaged in either learning (further education or higher education) or paid employment in each of the six months between October 2019 and March 2020.

Under the final scenario, learners may only ‘switch’ between learning and employment once. For example, if they are in learning for 2 months, then employment for 4 months they are counted as having a sustained positive destination. However if they are in learning for 2 months, then employment for 2 months, then learning 2 months, they are not counted as having a sustained positive destination.

Figure 5: The twelve possible scenarios that would lead to a learner being classified as having a sustained positive destination

Not recorded as a sustained positive destination

The ‘not recorded as a sustained positive destination’ measure has been provided to give an overview of the full cohort, including those learners that did not go onto a sustained positive destination. This measure encompasses three distinct groups:

  • Destination not sustained – learner had a positive destination, but it did not span the whole period necessary to be counted as sustained 
  • Destination not sustained and in receipt of benefits– learner had a positive destination but it did not span the whole period necessary to be counted as sustained, and the learner was also in receipt of benefits during the destination reference period (see ‘Benefit learners’ section above for a breakdown of included benefits).

On benefits only

This measure indicates that a learner had no evidence of a positive destination but was in receipt of benefits during the destination reference period (see ‘Benefit learners’ section for a breakdown of included benefits).

Any learning (sustained and non-sustained)

The ‘any learning’ measure aims to count the proportion of learners who are in any learning, regardless of economic activity, following the achievement of their course. This uses the same data sources as the sustained learning measure, but looks across the whole of the following academic year to be counted as in learning:

  • A learner must be in learning (in either further education or higher education) in any of the twelve months between August 2019 and July 2020.
  • A learner only needs to be in learning for a single day in a month for the learning to be counted.

Figure 6: The scenario that would lead to a learner being classified as in learning.

No activity captured in data

The ‘no activity captured in data’ measure has also been provided to give an overview of the full cohort, and includes those learners who do not appear to have any learning or economic activity in the destination reference period.

Progression measures

A series of experimental progression measures are now included in the release, which use a learner’s educational history to compare the level of learning achieved in the reporting year (2018/19) with i) the highest level of learning achieved prior to this year and ii) the level of learning in their destination year (2019/20), for those who progress to sustained learning.  

Two of these measures are only applicable to a subset of the learners included in the FE outcome-based success measures publication, as for the figures to be meaningful the department must have a learner’s entire educational history on record. As such, learners have only been included in the ‘achieving at this level for the first time’ and ‘progression for the learner overall’ measures when:

  • the learner’s full academic record is recorded in the NPD and ILR datasets, and
  • learners were born in or after 1988. This is as far back as the department’s data collection reaches, meaning the department would not hold the full educational history of learners born before this period and could not guarantee full coverage of their prior attainment.

Sustained progression from achieved aim

The ‘sustained progression from achieved aim’ measure compares the level of the highest and latest achieved aim in the reporting year, to the highest level of sustained learning the learner is studying in the destination year. 

As a result, this measure is calculated as a proportion of learners who went on to a sustained learning destination following achieving their learning aim in the reporting year.

To be counted as ‘progressing from achieved aim’, the level of the learning aim a learner has gone on to study in the destination year must be higher than the aim they achieved in the reporting year.

For example, if a learner achieved a Full Level 2 learning aim in the academic year 2018/19, then they would be counted in this measure if they were studying for a Level 3 or higher aim in 2019/20.

For the purposes of this measure, Full Level 2, and Full Level 3 are treated as higher than Level 2 and Level 3 respectively.

Achieving at this level for the first time

This measure denotes whether the aim the learner achieved in the reporting year was the learner’s first time achieving at that level. As discussed above, it is calculated for younger learners only, for whom we hold a full educational record.

It is calculated by comparing the level of the sustained learning aim in the reporting year, to the highest level the learner has achieved prior to the beginning of the reporting year. 

When the level of learning in the reporting year is higher than the learner’s previous highest level of attainment, they are counted as ‘achieving this level for the first time’.

For example, if a learner had previously achieved a Full Level 2 qualification, and in the academic year 2018/19 (reporting year) they were studying a Level 3 learning aim, they would be counted as ‘achieving this level for the first time’. Conversely, if the learner was studying a Level 2 or lower aim in 2018/19 they would not be classed as having achieved this level for the first time.

Sustained progression for learner overall

The ‘sustained progression for learner overall’ measure compares the level of learning of the aim the learner is studying for in the destination year to the highest level the learner has achieved prior to the destination year.

As a result, this measure is only calculated for learners who went on to a sustained learning destination following achieving their learning aim in the reporting year.

To be counted in the ‘sustained progression for learner overall’ measure, the level of the sustained learning aim a learner has gone on to study in the destination year must be higher than the highest level of learning they have achieved over the course of their educational history.

For example, if a learner achieved a Full Level 2 learning aim before the beginning of the 2018/19 academic year, then they would be counted in this measure if the learning aim they were studying for in 2018/19 was Level 3 or higher.

Table B: Comparison of progression measures

Earnings measures

This report presents the median annualised earnings of learners. The median is calculated by ranking all learners’ annualised earnings and taking the value at which half of learners fall above and half fall below. In addition to the median, the annualised earnings for the top 25% (or upper quartile) and bottom 25% (or lower quartile) are also presented to help users understand more about how earnings are distributed.

In the case of all earnings measures, the estimates only include that achieved a Full Level 2, Full Level 3 or Level 4+ qualification and have an earnings record on the P14 (HMRC data), a record of sustained employment on the P45 (HMRC data) and no record of further study at a Higher Education institution.

Annualised earnings are calculated for learners that started or left employment part way through the tax year by adjusting their recorded earnings to the equivalent earnings had they been employed for the entire tax year. The PAYE records from HMRC do not include reliable information on the hours worked in employment so it is not possible to accurately distinguish between learners in full time and part time employment. Therefore, part time earnings are not adjusted to the full-time equivalent amount.

Where there are high levels of part time employment within a group of learners, the median annualised earnings will be lower as a result. This is the case for sector subject areas like child development and wellbeing where many of the employment opportunities are part time. It is important to note that the number of people in part time employment may be as much due to the preferred working pattern of the learners as what is being offered by employers.

The earnings estimates do not include any income that was recorded though the self-assessment tax system. This means that earnings will be underreported for learners who have self-assessment income in addition to earnings from paid employment collected by the PAYE system. Learners that recorded their income entirely through the self-assessment tax system are not included in the estimates.

Self-assessment information on sole traders has been used in the employment outcomes for the destination measures. For earnings, overall there is a much smaller impact of including self-assessment information. Therefore as self-assessment information is only available from the 2013/14 tax year onwards, the earnings estimates only use PAYE records in order to provide a consistent five year time series. This may be reviewed in future releases.

 

Definitions

Destination measures

The full definition of how the destination measures are created is found in ‘Calculation of measures’, but this section provides a broad overview and illustrates how the measures relate to each other.

 DestinationDefinition
1Sustained positive destinationProportion of learners progressing into sustained employment, learning, or both in the academic year after achieving their qualification. [A combination of measures 3, 9 and 10]
2Sustained employmentProportion of learners in sustained employment in the academic year after achieving their qualification.
3Sustained employment onlyProportion of learners in ‘sustained employment’ [2] excluding those that are also in ‘sustained learning’ [8].
4Sustained self-employmentProportion of learners found in HMRC self-assessment data in the academic year after achieving their qualification. A subset of those in ‘sustained employment’ [2].
5Sustained further education learningProportion of learners in sustained FE learning, regardless of economic activity, in the academic year after achieving their qualification.
6Sustained higher education learningProportion of learners in sustained HE learning, regardless of economic activity, in the academic year after achieving their qualification.
7Sustained apprenticeshipProportion of learners who went on to study a sustained apprenticeship,  in the academic year after achieving their qualification.
8Sustained learningProportion of learners who fall into one or more out of the 'sustained further education’ [5], ‘sustained higher education’ [6], or ‘sustained apprenticeship’ [7] measures. 
9Sustained learning onlyProportion of learners in ‘sustained learning’ [8] excluding those that are also in sustained employment [2].
10Sustained employment and learning Proportion of learners that were counted as being in both ‘sustained employment’[2], and ‘sustained learning’ [8].
11Not recorded as a sustained positive destinationProvided to give an overview of the full cohort - including those without a sustained destination [12 and 13] and those on benefits only [14]
12Destination not sustainedProportion of learners who had a positive destination, but it did not span the whole period necessary to be counted as sustained 
13Destination not sustained and in receipt of benefitsProportion of learners who had a positive destination but it did not span the whole period necessary to be counted as sustained, and the learner was also in receipt of benefits during the destination reference period 
14On benefits onlyProportion of learners who had no evidence of a positive destination but were in receipt of benefits during the destination reference period 
15Any learningProportion of learners who are in any learning (sustained and non-sustained), regardless of economic activity, following the achievement of their course. 
16No activity captured in dataProportion of learners who do not appear to have any learning or economic activity in the destination reference period.

Progression measures

ProgressionDefinition
Sustained progression from achieved aimWhether the level of sustained learning in the destination year is above the level of the highest and latest achieved aim in the reporting year.
Achieving at this level for first timeWhether the aim the learner achieved in the reporting year was the learner’s first time achieving at that level.
Sustained progression for learner overallWhether the level of sustained learning in the destination year is above the highest level the learner had achieved prior to the destination year.

Sex

This information is collected in the ILR and more detail can be found on ILR Specification: Field: Sex . ‘Male’ and ‘ Female’ are the only possible entries in the field.

Ethnicity

This information is collected in the ILR and more detail can be found on ILR Specification: Field: Ethnicity. The ethnicity breakdowns provided use groupings inline with ILR and ONS published data. 

Age

Age breakdowns use the learner's age on 31st August of the academic year in which the learning aim took place (i.e. the base year). 

Some of the breakdowns in this release only cover young learners (for whom we have a full education historical record). Details on the reason for this can be found in ‘Learners in scope for the measures - Learners in scope for the progression measures’.

Benefit learner

A learner who has a benefit claim that overlaps the start date of their learning aim. See ‘Learners in scope for the measures - Benefit learners’ for more detail.

Provider type

FE learning can be undertaken via a range of FE providers: General FE Colleges (including Tertiary), Sixth Form Colleges, Schools, Special Colleges (Agricultural and Horticultural Colleges, and Art and Design Colleges), Specialist Colleges, Private Sector Public Funded and Other Public Funded (i.e. LA's and HE).

Provision

In this publication, FE provision is divided into Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Education & Training. Results are also presented separately for Community Learning.

Apprenticeships 

Apprenticeships are paid jobs that incorporate on-the-job and off-the-job training leading to nationally recognised qualifications. As an employee, apprentices earn as they learn and gain practical skills in the workplace. 

There are currently two types of apprenticeships: ‘frameworks’ and ‘standards’. 

An apprenticeship ‘framework’ typically contains the following separately certified elements: 

  • A knowledge-based element (the theoretical knowledge underpinning a job in a certain occupation and industry, typically certified via a technical certificate).
  • A competence-based element (the ability to discharge the functions of a certain occupation, typically certified via work-based assessed national vocational qualifications (NVQs)).
  • Transferable skills (English and maths) – key skills / functional skills.
  • A module on employment rights and responsibilities.
  • Personal learning and thinking skills (PLTS): independent enquiry, creative thinking, reflective learning, team working, self-management, effective participation.

Following a review and consultation of apprenticeships in England during 2012 and 2013, the government announced reforms to apprenticeships.

As part of these reforms, new employer-led apprenticeship ‘standards’ were introduced in 2014 and were initially known as ‘trailblazers’. 

Apprenticeship standards are designed with employers to help ensure apprentices have the skills businesses need, and outline the skills, knowledge and behaviours (KSBs) required to carry out a certain job role. All apprentices must take an independent assessment at the end of their training to demonstrate the KSBs set out in the occupational standard. 

New standards continue to be made available and have been replacing the older apprenticeship frameworks in recent years. All new apprenticeship starts will be on standards by the beginning of the 2020/21 academic year.

For further information on apprenticeships please see here.

Education & Training

Education and Training is mainly classroom-based adult further education that is not classed as an apprenticeship or community learning. It can also include distance learning or e-learning. Contrary to the Education & Training statistics in the ‘FE and Skills’ National Statistics, it excludes traineeships and offender learning.

Traineeships

Traineeships were introduced in the 2013/14 academic year to provide young people with essential work preparation, English, maths and work experience to secure an apprenticeship or other work, and can last up to 6

months in duration. From August 2014, traineeships were available to young people aged 16-24 and prior to this only to young people aged 16-23. 

Traineeships support social mobility by providing training for young people who need to develop their skills and experience to enter the labour market. They are aimed at those young people who are motivated to work but lack the necessary skills and work experience to gain an apprenticeship or other job.

For more information, please see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/traineeships

Community Learning

Community learning funds a wide range of non-formal courses, from personal development through to older people’s learning, IT courses, employability skills, family learning and activities to promote civic engagement and community development. Courses may be offered by local authorities, colleges, and voluntary and community groups, and include activity targeted at deprived areas and disadvantaged groups. 

Level of learning

In this release, data is aggregated by the level of learning in a broad and more detailed measure, as presented below. 

Provision TypeLevel of Learning GroupLevel of Learning
Education and TrainingBasic Skills

Entry Level English & Maths

Entry Level ESOL

Level 1 English & Maths 

Level 1 ESOL

Level 2 English & Maths

Level 2 ESOL

Below Level 2 (excluding Basic Skills)

Entry Level

Level 1

All Level 2 (excluding Basic Skills)

Level 2

Full Level 2

All Level 3

Level 3

Full Level 3

Level 4 and Level 5

Level 4

Level 5

Level 6Level 6
OtherOther
ApprenticeshipIntermediate apprenticeshipIntermediate apprenticeship
Advanced apprenticeshipAdvanced apprenticeship
Higher (Level 4) apprenticeshipHigher (Level 4) apprenticeship
Higher (Level 5+) apprenticeshipHigher (Level 5+) apprenticeship
TraineeshipTraineeshipTraineeship

Basic Skills

English and maths courses are also referred to as ‘basic skills’ and cover GCSEs, Functional Skills, Adult Basic Skills Certificates, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Certificates, and Qualifications and Credit Framework Certificates and Awards in English and maths.

Formerly known as ‘Skills for Life’, they are designed to give learners the necessary basic reading, writing, maths and communication skills for everyday life, to operating effectively in work and/or succeeding on other training courses. Achieving a level 2 qualification in both English and maths is often required for further study, training and skilled employment.

Qualification / aim

The qualification data have been aggregated by the qualification level and either the standard/framework title (for Apprenticeships) or the aim title as recorded on the Learning Aims Database.

Data matching and match rates

Matching process

The ILR student records are matched to DWP’s Customer Information System (CIS)[1] using an established matching algorithm based on the following personal characteristics: National Insurance Number (NINO), forename, surname, date of birth, postcode and sex. 

Some of these characteristics are simplified to make the matching process less time-intensive and allow more matches, for instance if a surname misspelt in one of the datasets. Only the first initial of the forename is used, the surname is encoded using an English sound-based algorithm called SOUNDEX[2] , and for most matches only the sector of the postcode is used. 

All records accessed for analysis are anonymous so that individuals cannot be identified. The personal identifying records used in the actual matching process are accessed under strict security controls. 

There are five match processes carried out, ranging from the highest quality and most likely to be accurate (Green) to the lowest quality and most likely to be a false match (Red-Amber). Table B shows the criteria for each match type. 

Once the ILR records have been matched to the CIS the corresponding tax and benefits records for that individual can then be linked to their ILR record. 

Table C: Criteria for each type of match

[1] The CIS is a computer system used by the Department for Work and Pensions to store basic identifying information about customers and provides information on all individuals who have ever had a national insurance number

[2] SAS function that turns a surname into a code representing what it sounds like, which allows some flexibility for different spellings. For example Wilson=Willson

Coverage and robustness of the data

The measures are calculated using administrative data sources already held by the Government, placing no additional burden on providers, individuals or employers to collect new information. Learner records are linked to DWP and HMRC data to observe benefit and employment activity, and to other education datasets to observe learning activity before and after training. Around 99% of learners are matched to DWP or HMRC data, rising to almost 100% for apprenticeships, and so provide representative coverage of activity for FE learners.

It should be noted that the match rate would never be expected to reach 100% for a number of reasons including inaccurate recording of personal information in the datasets used in the matching exercise. 

Table A: Match rates to LEO dataset by year

Academic YearProvisionNumber of learners[1]Match rate to LEO dataset
2018/19All learners994,07099.0%
Apprenticeship185,08099.9%
Education & Training796,54098.7%
Traineeship12,45099.0%

2017/18

 

 

 

All learners1,075,2799.1%
Apprenticeship276,05099.9%
Education & Training785,07098.8%
Traineeship14,14099.2%

2016/17

 

 

 

All learners1,017,80099.2%
Apprenticeship277,30099.9%
Education & Training723,29099.0%
Traineeship17,21099.8%
2015/16All learners1,061,07099.2%
Apprenticeship270,77099.9%
Education & Training773,06099.0%
Traineeship17,24099.8%

2014/15

 

 

 

All learners1,286,12098.9%
Apprenticeship259,13099.4%
Education & Training1,014,45098.8%
Traineeship12,54098.8%

2013/14

 

 

 

All learners1,536,64099.1%
Apprenticeship254,81099.8%
Education & Training1,277,13098.9%
Traineeship4,70099.9%

[1] Number of learners may differ to the figures provided in the Further education and skills National Statistics publication as the FE outcome-based success measures reports only a learners highest and latest aim.

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 

( : ) data is unavailable

Small cohorts 

Destinations outcomes will be suppressed where the number of learners in a cohort is less than 5 learners, while earnings outcomes will be suppressed where there are 10 or fewer learners in the cohort. Rates calculated with a numerator less than 3 or a denominator less than 6 will also be suppressed.

Annexes

History of changes to FE: Outcome-based success measures

Revisions to data

The historical data prior to academic year 2018/19 have been revised as part of this publication, taking into account:

  • improvements made in the matching and processing of the administrative data sources, and
  • revisions to historic employment and earnings figures that may have changed retrospectively due to the addition of newer data

Revisions to methodology

A summary of methodological changes to FE OBSM and timeline is included below:

Publication dateCohortDetail
December 202118/19 into 19/20‘Not recorded as a sustained positive destination’, ‘on benefits only’ and ‘no activity captured in data’ destination measures were updated to only be calculated for learners matched to LEO data.  'Progression from achieved aim' measure amended to include only sustained progression and to be calculated for all learners, rather than just young learners. ‘Progression for learner overall’ measure amended to only be calculated for young learners whose subsequent learning was sustained. Removed analysis on ‘Outcomes by learner category’.
November 202017/18 into 18/19Addition of new headline measures ‘sustained employment only’, ‘sustained learning only’ and ‘sustained employment and learning’. Apprenticeship standards and frameworks split out. Correction to calculation of level of further education destinations. 
October 201916/17 into 17/18Introduction of experimental ‘progression measures’ based on the subset of young learners with full educational record. Reclassification of a number of FL2 and FL3  to L2 and L3 impacts volumes of learners in these categories in Education & Training from 2016/17 onwards (see below for more detail).
October 201815/16 into 16/17 
October 201714/15 into 15/16Measures produced using LEO dataset for the first time. Introduction of ‘Outcomes by learner category’ analysis.

Full level 2 and Full level 3 methodology in 2016/17

In 2016/17 the number of qualifications classed as Full Level 2 and Full Level 3 were reclassified by the ESFA for the 19-23 entitlement, and to align with the 16-19 offer and recommendations in the Wolf Review of Vocational Qualifications.

The methodology change involved a number of Level 2 and Level 3 vocational qualifications no longer being classed as Full Level 2 or Full Level 3 for funding purposes, now being reclassified to Level 2 and Level 3, respectively.

Therefore, the number of learning aims (qualifications) designated as ‘full’ for 2016/17 onwards has decreased. The new methodology aligns more closely with the 16 to 19 Performance Tables in terms of the qualifications included.