SFA forced to delay publication of 2015/16 achievement rates as “technical issues” ongoing

SFA forced to delay publication of 2015/16 achievement rates as “technical issues” ongoing

Qualifications achievement rates data for 2015/16 will not appear in tomorrow’s FE statistical first release because of “technical issues”, the Skills Funding Agency has revealed.

The SFA announced last month that it would “shortly publish provisional 2015 to 2016 qualification achievement rates and minimum standards” covering apprenticeships and education and training.

It added: “We aim to publish the final QAR data following publication of the next SFR at the end of January 2017.”

But it has now conceded in its online Update bulletin, published this evening, that this will not happen.

This followed major problems reported on by FE Week that were experienced by providers, trying to upload QAR information onto troublesome online data collection system, the Hub.

The SFA added today: ““Due to some technical issues with provider access to the provisional data, we have extended the QAR provisional data window to allow sufficient time to deal with feedback and to implement corrections where necessary.”

FE Week reported on January 9 that there had been a week of problems, provoking repeated complaints though online forum FE Connect.

The main issue accepted by SFA was that the QAR was incorrectly only including learners as timely, where they had an actual end date in the 2015/16 year.

It meant, for example, that a learner who had a planned end date for example of July 31 last year (before the end of 2015/16), but actually achieved this in 2016/17 with an end date of August 1 or beyond (but within the required 90 days), wasn’t being recognised.

Issues were acknowledged as far back as January 4, when the QAR team announced on SFA forum FE Connect: “After investigation we found that the automated procedure to write and load the QAR data extract files to the hub had failed to include additional fields that allow you to arrive at the results displayed on the QAR dashboards.

“It also omitted age-bands for E&T. An amended extract file will be loaded onto the Hub today that fixes both these points.”

The SFA previously came in for fierce criticism on FE Connect in early December over its management of a key provider submission of learner data, which was labelled a “total farce” and “very disturbing”.

The agency’s online data collection system, known as the ‘Hub’, was understood to have initially gone down on December 5, when providers had less than a day left to submit their fourth Individualised Learner Record returns of the academic year.

It added an extra day in light of this, but providers still complained they were experiencing problems up to the 6pm deadline.

Despite this, the SFA opted against a further extension, even though the return that month, named ILR R04, was particularly significant – as it is used to calculate not only the SFA 16 to 18 monthly apprenticeship payments, but also by the Education Funding Agency to support the setting of allocations for the next academic year.