Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its report on the value of data and statistics in relation to post-16 education and skills in England. The focus of this work has been on statistics about further education and apprenticeships, higher education and skills and lifelong learning.
OSR has explored the extent to which data and statistics meet the needs of users interested in the development of post-16 education provision and skills in England. We considered the questions users are trying to answer, the sources of data available and the plans producers are working on to meet these needs. Although producers have been taking steps to improve the accessibility, coherence and availability of data, there is more still to do.
Good quality and accessible information is key to fair, efficient and effective education provision, and we identified many areas where statistics and data services are being developed to meet a diverse range of user needs.
Our findings include that:
- There are issues with the value of, and access to, learner level data from further education colleges;
- Better information about applicants to university would help shed light on social mobility; and
- Information gaps surrounding workforce skills will make planning to meet future demand difficult.
The next phase of OSR’s review will we be engaging with users and producers with a specific interest in statistics on this topic in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, to identify the extent to which the accessibility, coherence and data gaps are the same, or different, to those identified in England. We will continue to publish updates on our UK-wide work here.
Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation said: “The landscape for statistics on post-16 education and skills in England is very uneven. Some data are easily accessible, and others are not. Some user questions are well addressed, and others are not. Our report highlights the areas that need to be addressed to correct this imbalance.
He concluded: “We will continue to monitor the improvements the producer bodies in England have committed to making in this area and support them on making the progress that is required”.
Notes to Editors
The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics.
The Code of Practice for statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. This underlying data is important to performance measures, targets and official statistics – essential for informing performance management systems and policy.
Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence. All statistics should be sourced from accurate data and quality assured, with rigours analysis and insight. Anything published should include clearly explained methods of compilation. If these fundamental principles are not met, then this can lead to data that is not fit for purpose, leading to poor understanding and decision making.
Statistics are an essential public asset. OSR ensures public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government.