Progression to higher education or training shows the percentage of students that sustain an education course or apprenticeship at level 4 or higher in the two years following their 16 to 18 study. The most recent data reports on students who completed 16 to 18 study in the 2019/20 academic year and identifies their education and/or apprenticeship destinations in the two years following their last attendance at a 16 to 18 institution. The measure is designed to complement the existing destination measures (Destinations after KS4 and 16-18 study) which provide more information on the destinations that are not featured here such as employment and further study at level 3 or below. It differs from the original measures in that it uses a two-year destination window (rather than one) and calculates value-added scores which take prior attainment at GCSE and main qualification type into account for state-funded mainstream institutions.
Who is included in the cohort
This measure is restricted to students that studied level 3 qualifications as there is less expectation for students studying qualifications at lower levels to progress to level 4 or higher. It thus includes students that studied academic qualifications such as A levels, applied general qualifications, technical levels, or qualifications that have not been approved by the Department for Education but are notionally level 3. State-funded mainstream schools and colleges are included.
Changes included for 2019/20 cohort
There haven't been any major changes incorporated into the progression measure methodology since the publication of the 2018/19 cohort data in October 2022.
Creation of the progression destination measure requires the defined cohort to complete two years of activity in their destination period. At the end of the destination years, 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 16 to 18 study and the reporting of their destinations. This time lag has been reduced as far as possible.
A student will be deemed to have successfully progressed to a level 4 or higher destination if they sustain a level 4 or higher course in an HE or FE institution, a level 4+ apprenticeship, or a mixture of the two for at least six consecutive months within the two year period following their allocation to a school or college at 16 to 18. This measure will use a two-year destination window rather than the standard destination measure’s one-year window to allow for gap years and similar breaks in study. This means that the cohort will be drawn from those level 3 students that were deemed to be at the end of 16 to 18 study in 2019/20.
How the new measure works
The entire level 3 cohort is first grouped according to their qualification type and their prior attainment at KS4. The prior attainment for each student follows the same methodology as is used for the level 3 value-added measure (average GCSE score for students of academic qualifications; average GCSE and vocational equivalents score for students of other qualification types) but students are then placed into deciles. Qualification type for each student is decided using the same methodology as the standard destination measure (using the size of qualifications entered), however students of academic and applied general qualifications are grouped together as they have the same expectation for progression to higher education or training. As in the standard destination measure, a student that completes e.g. an AS level but spends the majority of their time studying level 2 qualifications will be counted as a level 2 student and not included in this measure.
Within each combination of qualification type and prior attainment decile the number of students that progress to a level 4 or higher destination is divided by the size of the group to obtain the national average for that type of student. Each student then scores +1 if they progress to level 4+, 0 otherwise, and the national expectation for that student is subtracted. For example, an A level student in the 9th decile might have an 85% probability of progressing to level 4+ according to the national average. If that student does progress then they score 1 - 0.85 = +0.15. If they do not progress then they score 0 - 0.85 = -0.85. These individual scores are then averaged for the school or college and the result multiplied by 100 to convert it into percentage points. Thus a value-added score of +12 represents a 12 percentage point increase on progression to level 4+ when compared to the national expectation for that school or college’s intake of students.
Level 4+ education or training must be sustained for six consecutive months at any point within the two-year destination window to count as a positive destination.
In all cases, the destination (and location, for top third/Russell group/Oxbridge breakdowns) will be determined by the activity in their last period of six consecutive months within the two-year destination window. For example, a student that starts a degree at a top third university but switches to a level 4 or higher apprenticeship in their second year will receive an apprenticeship destination.
Students that do not sustain six consecutive months in a single level 4 or higher destination but do have six consecutive months of activity across a mixture of level 4 or higher destinations will be counted as having progressed to level 4 or higher, with their destination chosen according to what they were doing in their last month of sustained activity.
For each state-funded mainstream school or college with a cohort at 16-18, we will report the level 3 cohort size, the percentage that progressed to a level 4+ destination, the national comparator percentage, the resulting value-added score, and provide a banding that puts the score in context. We will additionally report these items separately for the different qualification groups. We will also show breakdowns of the destination type (apprenticeship, level 4 or 5 course, degree) and destination provider (top third, Russell group, Oxbridge) for the level 3 cohort.
Value-added scores are calculated for a school based on a specific cohort of pupils, but a school may have been just as effective and performed differently with a different set of pupils. To account for this natural uncertainty, 95% confidence intervals (CI) around the scores are used as a proxy for the range of scores within which each school’s underlying performance measure can be confidently said to lie. Confidence intervals are wider for small cohorts, and narrower for large cohorts, as large cohorts are more likely to have contributions from unusual students average out.
Higher education and apprenticeship destinations at level 4+ are derived from 3 sources as for the standard tables.
- Individualised learner record (ILR)
- Higher education statistics agency (HESA) student record
- HESA alternative provider student record
Apprenticeships and study in further education colleges is reported in the ILR. Study in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and alternative providers (HEAPs) is recorded by HESA.
When deciding which higher education institutions are classed as top-third, we previously used provider tariff groupings produced by HESA. However, HESA no longer produce these groupings. The Department is considering different options for the groupings but in the short term has decided to continue to use the 2019/20 groupings.
Course type and level
Most qualifications have a difficulty level. Information on qualification levels can be found on gov.uk. Vocational qualifications in England are regulated by Ofqual as part of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). There are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications of UK degree-awarding bodies: The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of Degree-Awarding Bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) and The Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland (FQHEIS).
Higher learning aims at levels 4 to 7 are included in the higher education breakdown of our standard tables. Levels 7 and 8 are generally postgraduate study. No students of this age were recorded in level 8 study and the very small number entering level 7 aims have been included with level 6.
A small number of students have participation in more than one higher level course aim or setting over the two years. If study was sustained in both years, a course aim entered in year 2 is taken. If aims at more than one level are entered, the higher level aim is reported.
Level 6 (degree level study)
Undergraduate Bachelors or Honours degrees are level 6 qualifications, as are ordinary (non-honours) degrees, graduate certificates and diplomas, and level 6 certificates, diplomas, and awards. Degree apprenticeships combine employment with study towards a relevant degree at a sponsoring HEI.
Study towards integrated undergraduate/postgraduate Masters degrees has been included as a first degree. There are a very small number of students working towards level 7 qualifications at this age that are included.
First degrees are as defined by HESA and information on specific course aims
Level 4/5 (higher level study below degree level)
Levels 4 and 5 are equivalent to a Higher Education Certificate or Diploma or a Foundation Degree and includes study towards these and other higher level technical qualifications and higher apprenticeships.
Interim evidence on level 4 and 5 qualifications in England was published in 2018.
16 to 18 qualification type and prior attainment
Students who entered A level, academic, applied general or tech level qualifications of at least the size of one AS level are included in all applicable groups. Information on 16 to 18 qualifications can be found on gov.uk.
Key stage 4 (prior) attainment (achievement at age 16) is based on the pupils’ GCSE results for academic qualification students, and GCSE plus equivalent results across all approved qualifications for students of other qualification types. Average point scores (as used in the key stage 4 reporting year) are used to determine which prior attainment decile each student is placed in. Deciles have been used rather than grades to avoid having too few students in the upper and lower grade groups. The lower boundary for each decile is shown in the table below.
|Prior Attainment Decile||Lower boundary average points per entry score|
|No prior attainment||Pupil was not present in KS4 data and so was excluded from the progression measure|
Prior attainment for these students is mainly from 2017/18, although some students will have completed year 11 in 2016/17 (and a very small number in other years).
Students with missing prior attainment at KS4 information (e.g. those who arrived from abroad) are excluded from the cohort.
Data quality and coverage
The coverage of progression to higher education is much higher than in our standard tables because activity over two years is considered. This may give a fuller picture of participation in HE and higher apprenticeships shortly after the transition from 16 to 18.
As with our standard tables, higher education undertaken outside of the UK, or in further education colleges outside of England is not included.