There are no National Benchmarks for Initial Education Courses in the FE and Skills Sector, according to Ofsted.
The National Benchmark data used by the University of Westminster consortium of colleges were adapted from the City & Guilds Benchmarks for DTLLS. This seemed to be the only national benchmarks we could find for ITE, but we may be proved wrong!
- Success 69%
- Retention 76%
- Achievement 91%
National success rates are released from the Data Service, which is a government site – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fe-choices-performance-indicators
Compass CC, which developed Pro Achieve, then use this data to produce a file of national averages which colleges import into Pro Achieve: http://www.compasscc.com/Products/ProAchieve.aspx
The City & Guilds benchmarks for DTLLS for 2012-13 are as follows:
C&G DTLLS benchmarks
What do you think of these benchmarks?
- Are they too high?
- Are they too low?
- Are they about right?
Please comment on the TELL blog.
There is further general information below and some archived Ofsted information (but no numbers!).
FE and School Data guidance
The Ofsted Data Dashboard for further education and skills was released on 12 May 2014 and provides a snapshot of performance in a school, college or other further education and skills providers. The dashboard can be used by governors and by members of the public to check performance of the school or provider in which they are interested. There are FAQs. The Data Dashboard does not provide financial data about the college or provider.
To view the Data Dashboard, click Home & Search and enter the provider name into the search box.
Archived Ofsted guidance to Benchmarking in the FE and Skills sector
There has been a surge of interest in benchmarking by training providers, partly as a result of government efforts to encourage a raising of standards to match those set by the dominant world players in training. The term ‘benchmarking’ is often misunderstood by those responsible for quality improvement and not used effectively to bring about improvements in performance. It is not simply knowing a national average rate for success or achievement and setting a target to be better than that rate. Such rates may be inappropriately low or high for a group of learners. A ‘benchmark’ is a standard against which activities can be measured. Providers considering the use of benchmarks need to decide on what aspects of their performance should be benchmarked and where they should look to decide on their benchmarks.
The point of any benchmarking is to give a standard against which performance can be measured with a view to improving current standards. This could be in other sectors with comparable operations, products or services (such as the further education, higher education or commercial training, elsewhere within their own organisation (a full-cost commercial training arm that operates differently) or elsewhere in the further education sector (against other training providers).
Particularly effective practice identified in inspections includes:
- Establishing a commitment to quality improvement from the top of the organisation down. There is no point in benchmarking without that commitment, nor is there any point in selecting only those benchmarks which will ensure that the training provider will look good. Benchmarking makes the effort worthwhile if the training provider is prepared to use the most successful or the most envied as a comparator. Used properly, benchmarking should provide an achievable target which stretches the training provider to the limits of its capabilities for the benefit of learners. This has been the key feature of the most improved providers.
- Clearly establishing with staff who work in different areas where they are now in terms of performance so that when acceptable benchmarks are set there is a clear expectation of what size of ‘gap’ needs to be closed.
- Gauging what this performance is like when compared to national average success rates (or retention, punctuality, etc) – deciding whether the comparator national average is an acceptable one for your learners (for example 90% clearly is, 50% is not). Many providers wrongly believe that performing at a level that is a poor national one is acceptable.
- Remembering that some national averages may be a few years old and not reflect current national performance which has been rising in many areas – referred to as a ‘moving target’.
- Not using minimum performance levels from funding bodies as a benchmark target to be simply ‘above’ – these levels often indicate performance that should be unacceptable for a provider and their learners, falling below which could result in a loss of funding.
- Using the changes in performance to internally benchmark against. Here it is not the success rates of another course which would be used to benchmark against, but the improvements in success rates. This makes the conventional justification for comparatively poor performance – ‘their trainees are different from ours’ – less valid. If hairdressing NVQ level 2 has raised its achievement rate from 55 per cent to 70 per cent over three years (+15 percentage points), then each course in the provider should be looking at how it can raise its achievement rate by the same amount (5 per cent each year).
- Participation in Peer Review and Development (PRD) groups activity to arrive at and share benchmarks.
- Using best practice elsewhere within the provider. The fact that one course or occupational area can do something to a particular standard should mean that the whole of the provider is potentially able to achieve those same standards. This could bring consistency in the approach to learners for different occupational areas. For example, each learner receiving a detailed course/NVQ guide and induction at the start of training, or having a one-to-one tutorial with a similar content on a monthly basis.
- Monitoring inspection reports to see what the best providers are doing and benchmarking against desirable aspects of these providers, for example, having progression routes from entry level to foundation degree in colleges or from school link to advanced apprenticeship in work-based providers. In an occupational area (area of learning), deciding who staff have the most respect for and would like to emulate.
- Within an area of learning, benchmarking against the most successful course or programme. Several very self-critical colleges used this to raise standards in schools, departments or faculties.
- Monitoring Ofsted monitoring visit inspections to look for examples of effective practice in raising standards, particularly where the judgement of significant progress is awarded (some quality managers go to the Ofsted reports home page every two weeks and look at Learning and Skills reports published in that time).
- Ensuring that all staff work towards measurable targets that contribute towards achievement of an overall target.
- Looking inwards at the best practice of the provider, for example, if there is a grade 1 area within a provider benchmarking other areas against it over a three year development plan to reach the same performance. This has been a real driver of improvement in several colleges.
- Setting strategic aspirational targets as a benchmark to work towards (again, using the performance of outstanding providers to work towards).
- Benchmarking aspects of delivery to learners, for example, identifying aspects of teaching that make for a grade 1 lesson observation, tutorial or review.
- For customer service aspects, looking at organisations that are well known for it outside the world of education and training and applying it to aspects such as reception, human resources and IT services.
- Setting benchmarks for responding to complaints against those seen in industry.
- More problematic is benchmarking qualitative characteristics – such as the way in which staff relate to their learners or the helpfulness of induction procedures. Satisfaction rates from learner surveys have been used alongside the concept of a mystery shopper making enquiries (how quickly/well an enquiry is dealt with) or sampling practical activities (hair and beauty salons, restaurants).
posted by Rebecca Eliahoo, Principal Lecturer (Lifelong Learning), University of Westminster, Westminster Partnership CETT Director (UoW), Teaching and Learning Fellow