How will the new performance indicators for schools impact on a school and university relationship?
This is a guest blog from Emma, who works in the Education Liaison team at Edge Hill University
Performance Indicators for schools in England at Key Stage 5 will now include destination and retention data.
>> So, what does this mean for the relationship between schools and universities?
What is the destination indicator?
The destination indictor will consider a student’s progression to sustained education or employment in the year after taking A Levels, or another Level 3 qualification. Sustained engagement has been defined as the student remaining at their next step, be that university or employment, for six months. The destination of students’ after their level 3 qualifications has always been important to schools and colleges, as they will have wanted their students to progress to a relevant and meaningful next step; however, now a school’s position within the league tables will be affected by their students’ progression and retention after they leave them.
The destination is not graded, so it would not be the case that schools or colleges whose students progress on to high tariff universities will be graded higher than those whose students’ progress on to medium or low tariff universities. The driver of this measure is their sustained engagement in this next step, assuming that if they stay at that university or place of work that they have made the right decision for them.
In recent years there has already been increased pressure on schools to provide impartial and high quality careers advice and guidance, from both the government and no doubt from parents and guardians of students too. It has been part of a school’s statutory duty since September 2012 and has been given high priority in OFSTED inspections since September 2013.
The 2016 Sainsbury Review has recommended schools and colleges build on this by adopting the Gatsby benchmarks for careers guidance, highlighting the importance of quality and impartial careers guidance already required. The Post-16 skills plan promised to take forward all of the recommendations from the Sainsbury Review (subject to budgetary restrictions) and given the promise of investment into the FE sector; hopefully resources will be appropriately attributed to enact these recommendations.
How can you ensure a student makes the right choice?
Well, that is the million dollar question. Having close relationships with universities, higher education providers and employers can certainly play a part in providing impartial careers advice and guidance. Universities have outreach and education liaison staff whose remit is to work with prospective pupils. I would urge school and college staff responsible for progression, if they do not already have links with local universities and employers, to get in touch and see what support they could provide for their pupils. At Edge Hill University we value our relationships with school and college staff and find having two-way dialogue with schools and colleges hugely beneficial for both parties.
This new performance indicator could (and probably should) change the sort of information schools request from universities, be that in sessions delivered in school to prospective students or by specific one to one enquiries by, or on behalf of, students. School staff may want more information on student support, learning and wellbeing services and retention rates, in addition to the common requests for information on courses and accommodation. Universities should be able to provide information to school and college staff as well as prospective students and their support network on all areas of their provision; from homesickness and resilience workshops to module choice and contact time. It is in universities’ best interest that students make the right decision for them, and that they feel supported and welcomed into the University community. At Edge Hill University we welcome students who are passionate about their subject and who want to study with us, and we are happy to provide as much information and guidance as a prospective student might want.
We all want students to end up making the right choice, be that university or employment. These performance indicators might just bring this into sharper focus in the future.