FE colleges in England will have to measure and track their students’ performance and progress through their education and beyond as part of a “demanding” new set of regulations set out by the government today.
The measures are part of a new 16-19 accountability system designed to raise standards, which will see the regular publication of “clearer and more comprehensive” performance measures.
It will require FE colleges and school sixth forms to show their students’ progress from GCSE to the age of 18 in academic subjects or tech levels and what their average grade is in each category.
They will also have to monitor the progress made by students who join without a C in English or maths, as well as reporting what proportion of their students drop out and what proportion go on to further study, a job or training at the end of their courses.
The headline measures will give an overview of performance and allow comparisons between institutions. New, more rigorous minimum performance standards for 16-19-year-olds will replace the current standards from 2016.
If a college falls below these standards, it will come under extra scrutiny and could face intervention from the FE Commissioner.
Schools minister David Laws said: “The new system will mean higher standards, no hiding place for under-performing schools and coasting schools, and real credit being given to schools and colleges that may have challenging intakes but that improve their pupils’ performance.”
Professor Alison Wolf, of King’s College London, said: “I welcome the provision of a wide range of easy-to-understand indicators.
“The information will make it significantly easier for parents and students to identify the best post-16 provider for them..
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “New measures that are consistent and similar across different types of provider will give students and parents a much better basis for making an informed choice, and can help us move towards a level playing field for inspection and holding institutions to account.”
But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “We are concerned how additional GCSE classes in English and maths will be funded following the cuts to post-16 education and we question where the additional teachers will also come from.
"Young people who don’t complete or attain a qualification should not be regarded as failures, they may be leaving a programme to take up a job which may include training and learning.”
The 38-page document, published today, also reveals that the government will publish a list of ‘substantial’ vocational qualifications at Level 2, following on from professor Alison Wolf’s review of vocational education.
It says this will enable students to identify which qualifications can provide them with access to a recognised occupation.
These qualifications, alongside English and maths GCSE, will be the only level 2 qualifications used in headline performance measures for 16-19 year-olds.
The first list of the ‘substantial’ qualifications that meet the requirement will be published this autumn, for teaching from September 2015.