How the ESFA measures the performance of FE providers it funds

Guidance on qualification achievement rates and how the ESFA provides an indication of quality

What are qualification achievement rates (QARs)

QARs give one measure of how well further education colleges and training organisations perform in each year. In basic terms, QARs calculate what proportion of learning was successfully completed. The result is shown as a percentage figure.

QARs are produced for apprenticeships, traineeships, 19+ education and training (AEB and Adult Learner Loans) and 16 to 18 programmes reported to the ESFA under Funding Model 25.

We produce summary data and a detailed data extract four times a year for:

  • in-year QARs based on the June R10 data
  • in-year QARs based on the August R12 data
  • provisional QARs in January (following R04)
  • final QARs in March

Approach to school and college accountability, performance tables and data during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

For 2019 to 2020, we confirmed that we will not publish any institution-level QARs in the national achievement rate tables for the 2019 to 2020 in response to COVID-19. We also announced that data will not be used by others, such as Ofsted, local authorities or devolved authorities or within ESFA and DFE, to hold institutions to account. Therefore, we will not supply 2019 to 2020 QARs for institutions to use internally themselves.

High level national summaries of QARs have now been published within further education and skills, and apprenticeships and traineeships statistics publications for March 2021.

For 2020 to 2021, we have previously confirmed that we will not publish any institution-level QARs for 2020 to 2021. The government also announced that, due to COVID-19, all GCSEs, AS levels, A levels, other regulated general qualifications and some vocational and technical qualifications due to take place in schools and colleges in spring and summer 2021 would not go ahead as planned, and that for these qualifications, alternative assessment arrangements would be used. Where qualifications are subject to alternative assessment arrangements in 2020 to 2021, they will not be included in institutional level QARs and this data will not be shared with providers or Ofsted, or used for accountability purposes. Where vocational and technical qualifications are subject to normal assessment arrangements, we will produce institution level QARs and share these securely with providers and Ofsted.

In July 2021, it was announced the approach for Qualification Achievement Rates (QARs) for 2021 to 2022 will continue to align with that for school and college performance tables. For the 2021 to 2022 academic year, Education and Training, Apprenticeships and Traineeships QARs are to be published at provider level. This is a change from 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021, when we confirmed that we would not publish any provider-level QARs in response to COVID-19. Full details of the announcement in relation to 2021 to 2022 can be found on the following link - Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and college accountability 2021/22 - GOV.UK.

View your QARs

You can view QARs on the View your education data service.
You need to request IDAMs roles from your organisations super user. The role you need is: ‘View Your Education Data - QAR’.

Role requests will go to your organisation’s super user. They will be able to approve the request for you. The IDAMS user guides provide detail for creating access or checking your user permission.

Check your QARs

Check your in-year QAR reports

In-year QARs, allow you to review your learner achievement rate performance, check your data and correct any issues in your individualised learner record (ILR) data before the closure of return period 14 in mid-October.

You should review your QARs to understand what training you’re doing well, what areas you think you can improve and to amend any errors before R14.

Data cannot be changed after the final R14 window closes.

Check your final QAR data

In January each year, we provide a provisional QAR report before the final QAR is published in March.

Provisional QARs allow you to check your data and ensure that we have applied our published methodology correctly.

We use the final QAR for:

  • national statistics
  • activities such as performance management

Provisional QARs are published in January. If you think there is an error with our calculations, please let us know via our online enquiry form.

Resolve your queries

The funding rules and monitoring reports on submit learner data allow you to review your data and make any corrections before the R14 close.

Reports are provided every collection from R04 onwards.

The in-year QAR data provided at R10, R12 and the funding monitoring report at R13 tell you what needs to be corrected before the R14 hard close.

Common data issues can be resolved by checking:

  • learners not included or excluded from the QAR calculations as expected
  • overdue continuing aims
  • overdue planned breaks
  • incorrect recording of the ILR field ‘Learner reference number in the previous year

Our published technical specifications provides further detail about how we have calculated your QARs.

You can also use Further education and training providers - ESFA help centre to discuss data related queries with other training providers. You will need to register as a user on ESFA Communities to post and respond.

Any queries in relation to your specific Qualification Achievement Rates (QAR) can also be raised via our online enquiry form selecting the QAR query type, and assign the query to ‘ESFA Business Operations QAR’. Where the enquiry relates to specific learner queries, please also complete and submit the data query form which can be downloaded from Qualification achievement rates (QAR) 2020 to 2021 - GOV.UK.

Understanding our terminology to resolve your queries

Overall achievement rates include learners who achieved their qualification a little later than the training provider had expected. It is:

  • the achievement of the qualification aim, based on the later of the planned or actual leaving date

Timely achievement rates measure whether learners achieved within the timeframe the training provider had expected. It is:

  • if the qualification achievement occurs on, before or within 90 days of the planned end date

To decide which year’s QAR data a learner’s data is included in, the ESFA creates a ‘hybrid end year’.

This is based on the latter of:

  • the achievement year (for apprenticeship standards on funding model 36 only)
  • the planned end year of the learning aim
  • the actual end year of the learning aim
  • the reporting year

Compare your performance against national benchmarks

We use final QAR data for national statistics.

The data is now published through the Explore our statistics and data – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK. Prior to 2019 to 2020, QAR data was published to the National Achievement Rate Tables (NARTs).

Published 9 January 2020
Last updated 22 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. We have updated this page to reflect updated guidance on the approach to school and college accountability, performance tables and sharing and publication of QARs for 2020 to 2021.

  2. We have updated our approach to school and college accountability, performance tables and data and confirmed that we will not supply 2019 to 2020 QARs to institutions.

  3. We have updated this page to highlight the updated guidance on publishing institution level qualification achievement rates in the national achievement rate tables for the 2019 to 2020 academic year in response to coronavirus

  4. First published.