Progression to Post-16 Education. The role of Vocational Qualifications

Progression to Post-16 Education. The role of Vocational Qualifications

20 Dec 2021 (15:26)

Progression to Post-16 Education. The role of Vocational Qualifications. Carmen Vidal Rodeiro and Sylvia Vitello, BERA conference 13-16 September 2021.

Video transcript

[00:00:03:20] Hello everyone my name is Sylvia Vitello.  Carmen and i work in the research division of Cambridge Assessment and in this talk we're  going to present a study where we investigated progression to post-16 education with a focus  on the role of vocational qualifications.

[00:00:18:56] One reason for this focus is because of what  happened in 2010 so in 2010 the government in England announced reforms to vocational  education with the aim of raising the status of these qualifications within secondary  education and promoting successful progression into the labour market and into higher  levels of education and training routes.

[00:00:37:68] The department for education introduced  new categories of vocational qualifications at key stage 4 when students are typically 14  to 16 years old and then again at key stage 5 when students are typically 16 to 18 years old.

[00:00:52:48] In particular for key stage 4 technical awards were introduced as the category and for key stage  5 there were three new categories applied generals tech levels and technical certificates. Now I'd  just like to draw your attention to some features of these categories only one category at key stage  four but three at key stage five and in key stage five there are two advanced qualifications at  level three and one intermediate one technical certificates which is at the same level level  two as those typically taken at key stage four.

[00:01:19:60] Now technical awards and applied generals are  similar in that they cover a broad domain of study where students learn applied knowledge  and skills that aren't specific to an industry or occupational group whereas your tech levels  and your technical certificates are the ones that enable students to start specializing in a  specific industry occupation or occupational group.

[00:01:38:32] Now these categories came with a range of specific  criteria that vocational qualifications needed to meet to be approved for funding and included  within school and college performance tables.

[00:01:47:52] These criteria really did change in the nature of  vocational qualifications that were on offer at keystone case stage five affecting for example  the content assessment structure grading and progression requirements of these qualifications  for example vacation qualifications now needed to have some form of external assessment so  they couldn't be assessed solely by coursework

[00:02:04:96] and certain qualifications needed not only  to have exams but the exams needed to be assessment hurdles so candidates need to need to  pass these exams to pass the whole qualification

[00:02:14:48] and what's important for our study is the  progression criteria so the department for education may criteria for progression and  that were different for different categories of vocational qualifications so for example for  technical awards post 16 providers needed to make sure that the vocational qualifications  were accepted alongside GCSEs as an integral and equally regarded part of students programs  of study and that these qualifications needed to be able to fulfil entry requirements for  courses that key stage five like GCSEs would

[00:02:41:92] by generals students needed to progress to study  at a higher level for example higher education and then for tech levels and technical certificates  and qualifications really need to enable students to secure related employment apprenticeships  training or study at a high level and it's this progression that we're going to focus on 

[00:02:59:92] We're interested in how the different categories the face vocational qualifications at key stage  4 help students progress to post-16 education

[00:03:07:36] So a bit of background about the research  that's already been conducted into vocational qualifications and progression well a great  deal of this research has been conducted into progression into higher education and  was carried out before the latest reforms to vocational education were completely  implemented.

[00:03:25:44] So for example such research showed that there's been a steady increase  in the percentages of university entrance with vocational qualifications in recent years  although students with vocational qualifications still represent only a small proportion  of the overall intake in higher education

[00:03:37:44] But there was still evidence despite this  high level of entry to university and that vocational students were at a disadvantage in  terms of the institutions and the courses that they could access at he and how they succeeded  on those courses.

[00:03:53:20] Fewer studies still have looked at progression to different education employment  and training destinations one of the few research studies into this area showed that after taking  into account student and school characteristics vocational pathways at key stage 4 were found  to lead to higher progression to any destination education employment training than any other  pathway among students with low attainment

[00:04:11:92] but as students attainment levels increase those  following academic or mostly academic pathways had higher progression than those on  vocational or mostly vocational pathways

[00:04:20:32] but really there's little other research into  progression from key stage 4 to post-16 education in recent years and this continues to be under  researched and despite we think being an important policy and social justice topic so that's what  our research was interested in.

[00:04:38:72] We wanted to obtain an up-to-date view of progression from pre-16 to  post-16 education we wanted to research where the students with different programs are studying  different vocational qualifications that key stage 4 were equally likely to progress to pro 16 for  education and if they progress what routes they took and this analysis included specific focus  on the new categories of vocation qualifications that i mentioned so we use the national public  database for this.

[00:05:04:08] This contains for each academic year qualifications entertainment at the end  of key stage 4 and key stage 5 for all students in England including their characteristics such as  gender, type of school attended, ethnicity and so on and for our analysis we included candidates  who were age 16 in the summer of 2015 at the end of their key stage four and we considered all  the qualifications that they achieved during their key stage four and key stage five period 

[00:05:28:40] and for the key stage five extracts we looked at the key stage five extracts from 2016 2017 to  investigate the progression of these to key stage 4 cohort so we produced descriptive statistics to  understand the progression rates of these students as well as multi-level logistic regression  models to control for students demographic and educational characteristics such as  gender, ethnicity, type of school which we know is associated with progression we analyzed  it for each individual qualifications so the categories of qualifications as well as gcse's  a levels as well as broader programs of study.

[00:06:01:68] These programs of study was defined according to  the percentage of each student's learning hours that are accounted for by vocational academic  qualifications so here we've got academic only mostly academic mixed mostly vocational or your  vocational only and pathways and come we'll show you results broken down by these groups and on  that note I'll pass you on to Carmen thank you.

[00:06:23:76] Thank you Sylvia. So let's talk now about  the results first of all we look at overall progression to study for 16. So in the academic  year 2014-15 there were just over 610 000 students at the unification age for the overall progression  rate to key stage 5 for this cohort was 82.4

[00:06:42:08] So that's 82.4 percent of the candidates  achieve at least one qualification in the following two years leading to the end of key  stage five in 2016-17 and the qualifications could have been at any level so this graph here  shows you the progression to key stage five broken down by the pathway is students took in key stage  four and as you can see progression rates decrease as the percentage of vocational qualifications  in the students programs of the study increased.

[00:07:06:24] In particular over 80 percent of the candidates  with an academic or mostly academic background progressed to key stage five but over 50 of the  candidates with a vocational background did not.

[00:07:18:88] When we look at progression from each key stage four pathway to each key stage five pathway two educational key stage five pathways were  calculated for each candidate. One was based on the qualifications candidates took in the key stage  five period and this could be level one level two level three and then there was a second pathway  based only on the level three qualifications.

[00:07:38:16] So this table here shows you the progression to key  stage five pathways that include qualifications at all levels the table shows for example that the  students in an academic only route were likely to continue on an academic route so over 60 percent  of them did not take any vocational qualifications at key stage five

[00:07:52:80] Despite this figure around 20  of the academic only students swap to a most vocational or vocational only pathway key  stage five students from a mostly academic pathway against stage four were also most likely  to progress to academic only pathways but all over the stent and the next popular pathway for mostly  academic students was the vocational only pathway.

[00:08:14:32] In contrast to the more academic pathways for the  mix mostly vocational or vocational only pathways at key stage 4 there was a more even spread of  students across the different key stage 5 pathways in particular students with a vocational only  pathway were most likely to progress to mixed pathways although almost a quarter continue  starting vocational qualifications only and over 35 percent progress to  fully or mostly academic goods.

[00:08:39:76] This second table shows you the progression  rates to key stage five but in this case to the pathways that were based on level three  qualifications only so there were many students who did not follow a level three pathway and you  can't see that in the last column of the table so that means that they didn't take any  qualifications at level three in case stage five.

[00:08:58:72] You see that in particular ninety percent of the  students in a vocational only pathway key stage four they not take level three qualifications  in case stage five this percentage decreases the proportion of academic qualifications in the case  therefore pathway increased when considering only level three qualifications across all the key  stage four pathways as students predominantly progress to one or two pathways a key stage  five either to progress to an academic only or to vocational only pathway so the academic only  pathway was dominant amongst the students from an academic only and students from a mostly academic  pathway like stage four

[00:09:27:76] However a large minority within these two academic groups took vocational  qualifications only as well at level three in contrast candidates in a mostly vocational  vocation only pathway during their key stage four studies were most likely to follow  allocation and only route a key stage five.

[00:09:51:92] We also look at the progression for students with  a specific qualification so the first graph shows the progression to different types of key stage  five qualifications including the new DFE approved categories of qualifications as Sylvia mentioned  so supply generals take levels and technical certificates so students with technical awards the  key stage four were more likely to take an apply general than the tech level or the a technical  certificate during case stage five and the percentage of kindness progressing to DFE upper  qualifications were hired for candidates with technical awards than for candidates who took all  the qualifications whether they were non-approved vocational qualifications or candidates that took  qualifications and they were academic for example GCSEs.

[00:10:26:48] This second graph shows the progression to  non-approve vocational qualifications a key stage five the grey bars and that wasn't very high  in particular the highest progression rate was 5.8 amongst the students with technical awards  and the lowest progression was amongst students with academic qualifications there is  the highest progression to academic qualifications so a levels like stage five was from students  who took GCSEs only and those are the blue bars.

[00:10:54:40] In particular the progression rates  were almost doubled for the candidates with GCSEs and for candidates to technical awards  however the progression for the technical awards to academic qualifications was quite substantial  around a quarter of the candidates with clinical awards progress to a levels. This graph also shows  that the overall progression to key stage five and that's in the yellow bars you can see here  that the students with the highest progression to key stage five were the students who do GCSE's  only so the smallest yellow bars because they show the proportion of students that did not  progress to key stage and the students with the lowest progression rates were those who have  taken non-approved vocational qualifications.

[00:11:33:28] So to get a better understanding of the  results from the simple descriptive analysis we look at the relationship between pathways  and qualifications in case stage four with the progression approach the extended location  using regression analysis so the regression analysis aim to answer the question given two  students with the same academic attainment and similar background characteristics how many  characteristics are those that are displayed on the box there is there a difference in  the probability of being on a specific key stage five pathway or in the probability of taking an  approved DFE vocational qualification depending on the pathway or qualifications the students took in  key stage four.

[00:12:07:76] Well the outcomes of the regression analysis were very similar to the outcomes of  the descriptive analysis for example in this graph here you can see that the probability of  progressing to key stage five after controlling for the background characteristics decrease  with increasing the amount of VQs in the student's programs of the study this was also  shown by the descriptive analysis so I'm not going to go into the details of the regressions  but they are available in our research report.

[00:12:30:48] So just to conclude a couple of slides with the  main conclusions from the work so the overall progression rate to key stage five was over 80  percent for the key stage for cohort analyzing this study however the overall progression  rate differs substantially depending on the proportion of peak use within the students  programs of the study against stage four progression decreases the percentage of vocational  qualifications taking a key stage 4 increase.

[00:12:56:48] And there are various reasons for this for  example some vocational qualifications are designed with a workplace in mind and therefore  they provide a strong base from progression not only to education at the school and college but  also to an apprenticeship, employment, training or other kind of other education an increased  experience of VQs may motivate students to pursue destinations outside the key stage  5 schooling and those destinations won't be in the mpd so we cannot analyse them.

[00:13:17:92] A different reason is related to academic attainment so research has shown that students  on more vocational pathways have usually lower academic attainment specifically with regard to  GCSE muscle English and poor performance in this GCSE can act as a priority full-time education  because often forms part of entry requirements the post-existing courses and also psychologically  could discourage students from full-time education.

[00:13:43:20] So the research also showed that vocational  qualifications are a substantial part of many students educational experience at secondary  education and in fact key stage five many students programs of study at level three were  comprised exclusively of vocational qualifications.

[00:13:58:80] As we saw in the results following both the  vocational and vocational online pathways the key stage board does not close the student's  options key stage five then students continue on vocational pathways and they can progress as  well to more academic pathways the findings of the research provide support for applied generals to  continue to be part of key stage five provision.

[00:14:16:40] They were more popular than other types of  vocational qualifications and they were combined with different qualifications sorry finally the  research showed that large presence of students did not follow a level three pathway at all that  is they didn't take any level three qualifications during key stage five. This highlights the need to  ensure that there are rigorous level two votes a key stage five with level two vocational provision  being given as much attention and reforms as level 3 provision technical certificates were  introduced by the department of education as a level two qualification for the  students not ready for level three but as we seen here they are few  in number and the update is low.

[00:14:54:00] If you want to know more about our research  look at navigational qualifications in key stage foreign key stage five you can  have a look at our research report which is published on the Cambridge Assessment  website or you can have a look at our forthcoming journal article progression to post-16  education in England the role of vocational qualifications which will be published shortly in research web  syndication and thank you very much for listening.

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