Guidance

Review of end of year 16 to 19 study programmes data for 2013 to 2014

An outline of the delivery patterns that are outside of standard delivery.

Introduction

As a result of Professor Alison Wolf’s report on vocational education, the Education Funding Agency introduced, for the 2013 to 2014 academic year, funding per student to support Raising the Participation Age (RPA) and the introduction of study programmes. The Wolf report recommended that students should all receive a high quality study programme, which should include at least one qualification of substantial size, work experience and maths and English if below GCSE grade C, which offers clear potential for progression either in education or into skilled employment.

We have reviewed the end of year data, for the academic year 2013 to 2014 against the core principles of study programmes. We want to ensure public funding goes to provision which meets these principles so all students get a good initial education. We have outlined the areas we have reviewed below.

Findings

We have found that the funding formula has had the planned impact on study programme delivery in most institutions.

The data shows there has been an increase in the proportion of students in the full time (540 hours +) band, and a decrease in the proportion of students in the smallest part time band. There has been a decrease in the number of aims studied by students, and an increase in the average number of hours for each aim. The data also shows there has been an increase in the number of both English and maths GCSEs and stepping stone qualifications.

Non-standard delivery of study programmes

In a small number of institutions, we identified what appeared to be non-standard delivery of study programmes. There could be a number of reasons for this. To help us understand the reasons for delivery patterns that are outliers, compared to the majority of study programmes, we contacted these institutions and asked for an explanation of their delivery methods.

Please see the list of delivery patterns reviewed across all institutions and the thresholds applied.

Reasons for the delivery patterns being non-standard

We have undertaken a review of all the comments we received from the institutions we contacted; responses included that:

  • as 2013 to 2014 academic year was the first year of delivery of study programmes errors had been made in delivery of study programmes because of a lack of appreciation of what could be delivered
  • errors in how the delivery was recorded
  • study programmes were tailored to meet individual student needs and characteristics, with specific provision to maintain student engagement

Next steps

We are reviewing all guidance against comments received where institutions responded that their delivery/data recording errors were as a consequence of a lack of clarity around what was required.

We are now reviewing 2014 to 2015 academic year data returns against the core principles of study programmes.

The thresholds have been used solely for this exercise, to outline the most uncommon study programme delivery patterns for the academic year 2013 to 2014. When we run the 2014 to 2015 data against the measures, we will review the thresholds so we can identify again the most uncommon delivery patterns for the year. This may detect a different set of outliers and will contact institutions before the end of the academic year to ask for an explanation for their delivery method.

List of delivery patterns reviewed across all institutions

The areas of the funding formula where the delivery appears to be non-standard are below. Please note that the thresholds have not been set against expected delivery; just to identify outliers.

These are:

Where students have more than 1 core aim across the academic year, recorded in end year data returns

In the vast majority of cases it is expected that a student will have only one core aim for their study programme. However there are limited circumstances where it is in the best interest of the student to have more than one core aim within the funding year (1 August 2013 to 31 July 2014).

We have reviewed end year data and have identified institutions that have more than 5% of students with more than 1 core aim in the academic year.

Where 1 or more student (s) are recorded with a work experience aim in the 500+ hour band and work experience is not recorded as the core aim

The core aim is the principal or most important activity in the study programme and it will usually be the component with the largest number of planned hours. For study programmes where the work experience is greater than 500 hours in the academic year we would expect this to be recorded as the core aim.

Where over 100 students have a core aim that was a vocational qualification whilst on a predominantly academic programme

Where the student is studying both academic and vocational qualifications, their core aim is determined by the core purpose of the study programme, and this will normally reflect the majority of the planned hours. If the majority of planned hours are for the vocational qualification, then the core aim is vocational. If the majority of planned hours are academic in the mixed programme, then the core aim is academic.

We would therefore not expect students that are enrolled on a predominantly academic programme to have a vocational qualification as a core aim.

Where 80% or more students were not enrolled on a Level 2, Level 3 or work experience aim as their core aim

All 16 to 19 students should be given the opportunity to follow a study programme that:

  • provides progression to a level higher than that of their prior attainment
  • includes qualification(s) that are of sufficient size and rigor to stretch the student and that are clearly linked to suitable progression opportunities in training, employment or higher levels of education

All providers should ensure their curriculum offer enables students to take qualifications and activities that do prepare them for their next steps in line with the core principle of study programmes of enabling progression to the next level of education or employment.

Where students have no employability, enrichment and pastoral (EEP) planned hours in their study programme.

All study programmes should include other activities unrelated to qualifications which develop the character, skills, attitudes and confidence that support progression.

We would expect that in the majority of cases, study programmes, (including academic study programmes) include other planned and organised enrichment activity, such as tutorials, work to develop study skills, leadership, team-work or self-management skills and activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or volunteering. The review has identified those students that have no EEP hours. We have identified where 0% of total planned hours is EEP.

Where 90% or more of the overall students planned hours were attributed to employability, enrichment and pastoral hours (EEP)

The study programme should include qualification(s) that are of sufficient size and rigor to stretch the student and that are clearly linked to suitable progression opportunities in training, employment or higher levels of education, or work experience, reflecting the student’s prior attainment and should include maths and English for students who have not achieved grade A*-C GCSE in these subjects as well as substantial qualifications. We have identified where more than 90 % of total planned hours within an institution is EEP.

Where either more than 100 students or 20% of the students within the institution studied a compressed programme of 540 hours or more in 6 months

A full time study programme is defined as 540 planned hours or greater and we would expect that only in exceptional circumstances would a full time study programme be delivered in less than an academic year.

In some cases, where this best meets the assessed needs of the student and/or is strictly necessary to prepare them for their progression outcome, institutions will plan compressed programmes to allow students to complete a significant number of hours in a short period of time. These programmes will be funded at the standard funding rate based on the planned hours.

We would expect such compressed delivery to lead to excellent results, as demonstrated through qualification success rates and positive destinations. We would not expect this to lead to a student being funded for more than one full-time programme in an academic year. We will monitor the delivery and value for money of compressed programmes during 2013 to 2014 and will decide whether to apply a funding cap to such provision in future accordingly.

We have identified where there are either 100 students or 20% of students recorded as being on a full time programme delivered in less than six months.

Where 70% or more of students finished just after the 2 week qualifying period (applies to study programmes of less than 24 weeks)

For information, just after is defined as students with an actual end date within 1 month after their qualifying period ends. For students with a 2 week qualifying period, this is within 44 days of their earliest start date (14 days + 30 days)

Where 20% or more students finished just after the 6 week qualifying period (applies for study programmes of more than 24 weeks)

For information, just after is defined as students with an actual end date within 1 month after their qualifying period ends. For students with a 6 weeks qualifying period, this is within 72 days of their earliest start date (42 days + 30 days).

Where the average number of learning aims per student is 6 or over

Funding for study programmes is now allocated per student, not on a per qualification basis. As study programmes should include qualification(s) that are of sufficient size and rigor to stretch the student and that are clearly linked to suitable progression opportunities in training, employment or higher levels of education. Professor Alison Wolf recommended that study programmes should include at least one qualification of substantial size (in terms of teaching time) which offers clear potential for progression either in education or into skilled employment.

We expect students to enter fewer (but more challenging) qualifications, and have identified where the average number of aims is 6 or more.

Where a decrease of 500 or more learning aims between 2013 to 2014 R10 and R14

We have identified at an institution level where there has been a decrease in learning aims of 500 or more between the two data returns. This will apply to institutions that return the Individualised Learner Record (ILR).

Where there are a significant number of students who are retaking the same aims

Re-takes are not generally eligible for funding, but where there are exceptional circumstances outside the control of the student or institution, such as a period of long term sickness, or good educational reasons then the re-take delivery hours for individual students may be included in the funded study programme hours.

We have not included any data for this element; we will however continue to review the number of students that are recorded as studying aims that they have previously studied.

If you have any questions, please contact:

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Published 18 November 2015
Last updated 20 April 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated information has been added.
  2. First published.