Nick Linford

Nick Linford

Nick is ADI's director and apprenticeship expert

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Achievement rate Poll suggests further decline

The overall apprenticeship achievement rate for the sector in 2018/19 was 65.1%, comprising or 69.2% for frameworks and 47.4% for standards.

Since then, as standards have rapidly replaced frameworks, the overall rate has fallen from 65.1% and was 57.7% for 2020/21 (51.8% for standards).

The DfE will publish the 2021/22 sector achievement rate in mid-March, but this month they shared with providers their provisional rates. Providers can see their rate by logging into the ESFA’s View Your Education Data (VYED) portal. Although ‘provisional’, it is expected that they will not change as providers cannot challenge or alter the data on which the results are calculated.

Yesterday, I emailed an online poll to the 16,000 Lsect members, which requested the number of leavers and achievement rate for 2020/21 and 2021/22, as per the information within their VYED portal.

160 providers responded by the 10am deadline today, which I reduced to 153 once I had removed those with no data for 2020/21. My estimate, based on the number of leavers within the poll for 2020/21 compared to the published sector total, is this represents around 15% of the apprenticeship sector. So I think the response rate is high enough to consider a relatively reliable sample.

You can download a spreadsheet of the 153 responses here.

If the 153 providers represented the whole sector, the headline achievement rates for 2020/21 and 2020/22 would have fallen 4.9 percentage points from 61.8% to 57%. See tables below:


Just over a third of providers saw their achievement rate rise last year, but nearly two thirds have seen it fall. See table below

This drop is obviously concerning, and may in part be a consequence of standards continuing to replace the last few frameworks. Also, given the poll achievement rate for 2020/21 is higher than the publish figure for the sector, it is possible that the national average for 2021/22, when published in mid-March, is even lower than the 57% in the poll.

It is also interesting to consider how many providers would be below the Qualification Achievement Rate indictor threshold for the ESFA’s new Apprenticeship Accountability Framework.

The thresholds for ESFA intervention currently published are 60% or higher to be ‘on track’ (green), 50% or higher but less than 60% to be ‘needs improvement’ (amber) or less than 50% to be ‘at risk (red).

Using the providers in the poll, 32% would have been in intervention (amber or red) based on their 2020/21 achievement rate, which rises 14 percentage point to 46% in intervention for 2021/22, mostly owing to a doubling of the number ‘at risk’.

If the poll proves to be a fairly representative sample of the wider sector, this would suggest when the ESFA developed the Accountability Framework they set the achievement rate thresholds thinking around a third would below them and thus in intervention. But the achievement rate results for 2021/22 suggest that unless the thresholds are revised, around half of all providers will be in intervention.

The ESFA has said they plan a round of accountability framework reviews with providers early next month. So they could be making a lot more phone calls than originally planned.

Accountability Framework thresholds

2021/22 achievement rate poll results

No Data Found

I will be delivering a webinar about the Accountability Framework on 20 February. To find out more and register, click here.