From education to employment

Level 2 and 3 attainment age 16 to 25

Students Stock

DfE has released the latest statistics on Level 2 and Level 3 attainment of young people aged 16 to 25 in England for the 2022/23 academic year. The data provides insights into the educational progress of young people, with a focus on attainment by age 19, and includes a comparable time series dating back to 2004.

Key findings for the 2022/23 academic year:

Level 2 Attainment:

  • 85.5% of 19-year-olds achieved Level 2 qualifications, marking a 2.5 percentage point increase from the previous year.
  • A record-breaking 78.0% of 19-year-olds attained Level 2 in English and maths.
  • However, the proportion of 19-year-olds who had not achieved Level 2 in English and/or maths at 16 but did so by 19 fell by 9.1 percentage points to 27.7%, due to the impact of calculated/teacher-assessed grades in 2019/20.

Level 3 Attainment:

  • 61.3% of 19-year-olds were qualified to Level 3, a slight decrease of 0.9 percentage points from the previous year’s record high but still above pre-pandemic levels.
  • Level 3 maths attainment among 19-year-olds stood at 14.5%, returning to pre-pandemic levels after reaching a series high of 15.0% in 2021/22.

The data also sheds light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on attainment statistics. The cancellation of summer exams in 2020 and 2021, along with the alternative grading methods employed, led to higher attainment levels at age 16, affecting the Level 2 statistics for 19-year-olds in the 2022/23 figures.

The 2021/22 academic year saw the return of the summer exam series, with adaptations and a grading approach that aimed to strike a balance between the results of 2019 and 2021.

Sector Response

Ben Gadsby, Head of Policy and Research at Impetus said:

“These figures cover the first cohort of GCSE students affected by the pandemic in 2020, and it is not surprising that those who received generous teacher assessed grades in the first year of the pandemic, and then generous grading in subsequent resit years, have set a new record for English and maths success. English and maths qualifications are vital for people’s long-term prospects and roughly halve your chance of being out of work, so it is good news that achievement rates have not dropped for the pandemic cohort.

“However, there is a risk that not that all young people will actually have the skills these qualifications are supposed to imply. This could undermine the confidence that employers have in these certificates, disadvantaging the cohort that bore the brunt of the pandemic’s educational impact.

“And it’s not just recent school leavers who have been affected by the pandemic – everyone sitting GCSEs in the coming years have had parts of their education disrupted. It’s premature for catch up schemes like the National Tutoring Programme to come to an end this year. Politicians of all parties should commit £385m a year to support catch up tutoring in schools and colleges, as Impetus has called for in our manifesto.”

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