11 SES 03, From Academia to Real Life
Student progression is one of many facets of education quality. Instead of looking at educational processes, or immediate outcomes such as assessment results, a progression approach to evaluating education quality could ask “What did students do next?” Measures based on student destinations are found (for example) in the OECD’s “Education at a Glance” indicators (OECD, 2016), and the European Commission’s “Education and Training 2020” benchmarks (European Commission, 2016).
Student destinations are important from both social justice and economic perspectives on education, and their relevance continues to grow. In Europe, a persistently difficult labour market for young people and the growth of the ‘knowledge economy’ make it vital to measure whether students are successfully progressing into employment as well as into further/higher education (e.g., Cedefop, 2013; Joint Report 2015/C 417/04). These factors have also driven efforts to increase the ‘permeability’ of education, that is, the potential for students to move easily between academic and vocational education, and between different levels of education (Cedefop, 2012). The Bologna and Copenhagen processes and the reforms which have followed have further increased motivation to monitor student destinations in Europe. In particular, it is important to monitor whether reforms have resulted in more frequent progression from vocational education to higher education and also how the reforms that promote permeability have affected student progression into employment and training. Powell and Trampusch (2011) show that Europe-wide processes have affected national vocational education in varying ways, and in some countries caused concerns about damaging the integrity of long-established vocational training systems.
In England, concerns developed throughout the 2000s about increasing numbers of secondary students taking qualifications that did not support progression. An extensive review in 2011 found that despite a discourse of equivalence enshrined in the National Qualifications Framework, too many vocational and vocationally-related qualifications were valued by neither employers nor higher education institutions (Wolf, 2011). The Wolf report demanded an education that enabled “meaningful” progression, whether into education or employment or training, and identified better data on student destinations as a monitoring tool. Since then, research has continued to examine progression from vocational education into higher education (HEFCE, 2014; Shields & Masardo, 2015), but other research into progression has been hampered by the lack of data linking students’ education to their destinations. Obtaining data on students’ destinations outside of education is complex, and monitoring the impact of secondary education has been particularly difficult in England due to the high number of individual qualifications (as opposed to discrete academic or vocational pathways) that students may study.
The Department for Education has recently assembled increasingly detailed data linking students’ education to their destinations after leaving school. Statistics on student destinations have been introduced as indicators of education quality at the national level (e.g., DfE, 2016), and indicators at school level are expected to be introduced soon. These indicators represent a substantial change from previous practice: previous indicators in England have focused almost entirely on assessment performance. As for performance-based indicators, however, destinations indicators at national and school level would tell only a partial story.
The aim of this research is to examine the relationship between secondary education and student destinations using student-level data. The research aims to investigate this relationship in greater detail than previous research has accomplished, using newly available linked data to compare how different pathways in England support young people’s progression once related factors are controlled for. The main research question in our work is the following:
Do students’ destinations after secondary school depend on their school qualifications, after controlling for the background characteristics of prior attainment, gender, school type, region and socio-economic deprivation?
Cedefop. (2012). Permeable education and training systems: reducing barriers and increasing opportunity. Briefing note 9072. Retrieved from http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/9072 Cedefop. (2013). Labour market outcomes of vocational education in Europe: Evidence from the European Union labour force survey. Research paper no. 32. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. DfE. (2016). Statistical Working Paper: Improvements to data on destinations of key stage 5 students, England, 2013/14. (SFR 34/2016). London: Department for Education. European Commission. (2016). Education and Training Monitor 2016. Retrieved from http://www.ec.europa.eu/education/monitor HEFCE. (2014). Further information on POLAR3: An analysis of geography, disadvantage and entrants to higher education (2014/01). Retrieved from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2014/201401/ Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) — New priorities for European cooperation in education and training, 2015/C 417/04 (2015). OECD. (2016). Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing. Powell, J. J. W., & Trampusch, C. (2011). Europeanization and the Varying Responses in Collective Skill Systems. In M. R. Busemeyer & C. Trampusch (Eds.), The Political Economy of Collective Skill Formation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Shields, R., & Masardo, A. (2015). Changing Patterns in Vocational Entry Qualifications. York: The Higher Education Academy. Wolf, A. (2011). Review of vocational education - The Wolf Report. (DfE-00031-2011). London: Department for Education.
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