ESFA scraps provider achievement rate reports

Colleges and training providers will not have access to qualification achievement rate (QAR) reports to use internally for 2019/20, the Education and Skills Funding Agency has announced.

At the beginning of lockdown the agency said that it would not publish institution-level achievement rates for the current academic year due to disruption caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials also confirmed that the data will not be used by others, such as Ofsted, local authorities or devolved authorities or within ESFA, to hold institutions to account.

Yesterday, the agency revealed that they have now taken the decision to “not supply 2019 to 2020 QARs for institutions to use internally themselves”.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief policy officer Simon Ashworth said this was an “eminently sensible” approach because “the agency was clear that it didn’t want to use the QAR to hold providers accountable for the unforeseeable consequences of the pandemic”.

“The coronavirus is impacting on delivery in many ways beyond providers’ control and it will continue to do so for at least the remainder of 2020 as the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has recognised in its approach to maintaining Covid-related flexibilities,” he added.

The 2019/20 academic year includes learners who were due to pass between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020. Achievement rates would have been published in March 2021.

The ESFA said they are currently still reviewing what data “we will publish for statistical purposes in 2021 for the 2019 to 2020 QARs but, it will not contain any data at institution level”.

QARs calculate what proportion of learning was successfully completed in each academic year by providers.

They are produced for apprenticeships, adult education and 16 to 18 programmes.

The latest achievement rates were published in March and showed the overall national rate for apprenticeships dropped 2.2 per cent points last year to just 64.7 per cent.

The achievement rate for the new apprenticeship standards was particularly low, averaging just 46.6 per cent compared to 68.7 per cent for frameworks.

The ESFA minimum standard threshold sits at an achievement rate of 62 per cent.

If more than 40 percent of a provider’s provision fails to meet the minimum standard then intervention can be as severe as contract termination, in line with the ESFA’s “oversight of independent training providers” operational guidance.