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Written Statement - New performance measures for post-16 learning

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Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language
Education reform is our national mission. Working together we will ensure that all our young people have an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards, whether through an academic or vocational route.  It is vital that this work is underpinned by robust data, and that we are measuring the right outcomes for our learners.

We already know that there is room for improvement in the standards of post-16 learning.  Following the A level results last summer we said that we would be looking closely at the full details of the results, to see what lessons we can learn and what we can do differently.

We have already asked regional education consortia to increase their emphasis on sixth form performance in their ‘support and challenge’ role for schools and to take a cross-consortia approach to driving improvements to ensure consistency at a National level.  In addition, an A-level improvement summit will be held next week where we will bring our key partners together to agree respective roles and responsibilities, and set the direction of travel for making improvements to post-16 provision across the board.

A levels are delivered by schools and FE colleges. At the moment, our separate performance measures make it difficult to get a full picture of the outcomes achieved by learners across Wales, so we have committed to introducing a new set of consistent performance measures which will help to support efforts to raise standards in post-16 learning.

We recently completed a consultation on the new performance measures for sixth forms and FE colleges. Today we are publishing a summary of the responses to our consultation.

The responses to the consultation have confirmed the appetite for change and for a ‘level playing field’ in how we measure post-16 learner outcomes.  We are now confirming our intention to adopt three new measures: learner achievement, post-16 value added, and destinations.  The consultation has also given us some really valuable feedback on how the measures can be further developed and used to support improvement over the coming years.  

We will shortly be issuing schools and colleges with baseline data on the new achievement measure, using 2014/15 and 2015/16 data.  This is a significant step forward in how we measure post-16 learning outcomes, looking at the bigger picture of learner retention and the grades they achieve, rather than simplistic measures based only on those who attempt examinations.

We know we have some work to do with schools and colleges to establish the new approach, and not least to make sure that the data we are using is accurate.  There will be a staged approach to the introduction of the new measures as they are at different stages of development. However, all three measures are on schedule to be in place by early 2019.

We will continue publishing the existing measures for schools and FE colleges in parallel with the new developments, until at least 2019 (covering the 2017/18 academic year outcomes).  

This work is part of the broader education reform journey we have embarked upon and will build upon the work already taking place to develop a new and ambitious curriculum. It will also inform, and be considered, as part of our fundamental review of accountability systems at both pre and post 16; and work towards our current post-compulsory education and training consultation: “Public Good and a Prosperous Wales – Building a reformed PCET system”.