Background

The Office for Statistics Regulation is keen to ensure statistics that relate to similar themes are readily accessible to users, able to answer the questions society needs to answer, and that there is a coherent narrative across sources. We see statistics as a public asset and want to maximise their value to users. Systemic reviews help us explore issues of public value and identify improvements that the statistics system may need to make.

What we plan to do and why                                                                

We will explore the availability and accessibility of data about post-16 education and skills statistics. This will include statistics about further education, apprenticeships, higher education, life-long learning and workplace skills, including the skills gap. Previous work in the Children, Education and Skills team in Office for Statistics Regulation has focussed mainly on school education, however,  engagement with users suggests that there is also room for improvement in the provision of  statistics about post-16 education and skills. The review will firstly focus on England and then the devolved administrations to ensure a clear picture can be built up of each of the policy and statistical landscapes. Our principal aims will be to uncover what questions are being asked of post-16 education and skills statistics, which of these questions can be answered by current data and where there are gaps in, or other issues with, the available statistics.

How we will do it

Stage 1: system mapping – we will build-up a picture of post-16 education and skills statistics in the UK to help inform our understanding of what statistics exist.

Stage 2: stakeholder engagement – building on stage 1, we will consult with a range of statistics producers and users who have an interest in post-16 education and skills statistics, focussing on England. We will gather views about whether the statistics that are currently available answer the key questions and what gaps exist. We will also want to find out about emerging areas for which evidence might be needed in future and how well the systems in place can respond to such demands. If you want to speak to us about this work please get in touch with the regulation team.

Stage 3: collate findings and explore options for improvements – we will review the evidence gathered and present it to key stakeholders. For areas where we feel improvements are needed, we will work collectively with relevant parties to identify solutions.

Stage 4: follow-up reviews – We will engage with users and producers in the devolved administrations to identify where the findings from England are similar to those in the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – for example where the main sources of data are UK-wide and meet similar needs in each devolved administration – and where there are different issues which need further follow up. We will identify where further work on specific issues within the devolved administrations is required, for example where policies and data sources are very different to those in England.

What we want to happen as a result

Post-16 education and skills statistics in the UK to provide accurate and appropriate information with sufficient insight for those who use them to make decisions, and the system to operate effectively and anticipate the needs of the future.

Timing

Stage 1: system mapping – Ongoing to June 2018

Stage 2: stakeholder engagement – June to October 2018

Stage 3: collate findings and explore options for improvements – October 2018 – December 2018 (publish report early 2019)

Stage 4: follow-up reviews – January 2019 onward

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