Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Government to transform success measures in adult further education

A consultation on how data on adult learner outcomes can be used to benefit prospective students, employers and educators has been launched. 

Better information about further education courses and providers is set to help people understand the real-life benefits of qualifications and training.

Data including learner progression, future earnings potential and the success of past students in securing employment, will give students the knowledge they need to make informed choices about their future.

Through the publication of experimental data on adult (19 years and above) learner outcomes and the launch of a consultation on how this can be used to benefit prospective students, employers and educators, the government is working to establish a more holistic approach to measuring success in adult education.

The first set of experimental data on outcome based success measures at provider level published yesterday (12 August 2014) by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The data focuses on the destination and progression of adults who undertook further education in 2010 to 2011. The data shows whether learners moved into employment or further learning the following year, and whether they progressed to study a qualification course at a higher level. This new insight builds on data on learner earnings published in January 2014.

Historically, success in the further education sector has been measured primarily by the number of learners completing and achieving qualifications. However yesterday’s announcement paves the way for learners and employers to be able to base their further education decisions on where learning will lead.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

This country needs high quality post-19 education and training that equips learners with the skills employers need and value. This data and consultation is an important step in recalibrating the way we think of success in further education.

Simply gaining a qualification is not the reason learners enter education and therefore should not be the sole measure by which we determine success. Instead we need to look at where education leads - whether that’s employment or further study. We need to be scrutinising not only how well further education providers deliver learning, but also what that learning achieves. By using a more holistic measure of success, we are working to incentivise providers to stretch and challenge students.

To coincide with the publication of the data, the government is launching a consultation on how outcome based success measures can be used from 2016 to 2017 to both inform learner and employer choice, and ultimately as part of the government’s performance management of the post-19 education and skills sector. The consultation calls on students, employers and those working within the further education sector to share their views on how the measures should be calculated and presented to ensure they are useful for all.

It is proposed that using outcome data alongside existing measures of qualification achievement will empower learners and employers deciding where to invest their own funds and any public money they are able to draw on to support their training. The additional insight will also help to ensure that poor performance is swiftly dealt with, protecting the interests of learners, employers and taxpayers through informing performance management of the sector and of individual training providers.

National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses John Allan said:

The FSB firmly believes that education and training provision should meet the needs of business. These proposals will give prospective students a better understanding of what training they need to pursue their careers. Too often, young people achieve qualifications but lack the key skills that small employers need, so we welcome moves to shift the focus from qualifications to outcomes. With the labour market changing dramatically in the past few years, those leaving education and training should feel confident that the qualifications and training they have will be of value to the businesses that may employ them.

The consultation runs from 12 August 2014 until 10 October 2014 and BISwill be running a series of workshops and online discussions focused on the consultation for interested parties.

To coincide with the consultation launch, the government will also be publishing, College Governance – a guide, a guidance document for colleges, learners, employers and other stakeholders setting out how colleges are accountable and the government’s expectations of college governors.

Notes to editors

  1. The published experimental data on outcome based success measures including destination and progression can be accessed here while matched data earning analysis can be viewed here
  2. The consultation can be accessed online at Adult further education: how do we measure success?
  3. The proposed success measures will focus on 3 areas:
    • learner destination into further learning and into or within employment, including apprenticeships
    • learner progression to a higher level qualification
    • earnings following completion of learning
  4. Learner data is linked to other administrative data sets by specialist teams. Identifiable information, including names, is only used in the matching process and not shared with analysts working with the matched data.
  5. At the moment the data is experimental, we have published it alongside the consultation to inform input to the consultation, but it will not be used for government accountability at this stage. The consultation proposes ways in which the measures could be used for these purposes from 2016 to 2017.
  6. The data published builds on insight from the Department for Education into destinations of learners aged 16 to 19 years completing Key Stage 5 qualifications. The data published by BIS covers learners aged 19 years and above taking qualifications at any level.
  7. College Governance – a guide can be viewed online at College governance: how further education colleges operate
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