Project: London's Post-16 Trajectories Report

Client: The Greater London Authority (GLA) and London Councils

In July 2020 our report, London’s Post-16 Trajectories, jointly funded by the GLA and London Councils was published. The research, undertaken in collaboration with partners at the UCL Institute of Education, tracks the post-16 pathways and outcomes of 355,000 young Londoners.

Download the report
View our summary slides

London’s secondary schools have seen a transformation over the past 15 years and key stage 4 results in London are now the best in the country. However, this progress is not sustained in post-16 education and London ranks fifth amongst the English regions for academic average points score at Level 3.

To establish a clearer understanding of what is driving post-16 education choices and performance in the capital, the Greater London Authority and London Councils commissioned Mime and the UCL Institute of Education to conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis to better understand the pathways of young people in London from GCSE through further study.

These findings will inform future policy, including for provision funded through the adult education budget, of which the Mayor now has control, and plans for further devolution.

Key findings

  • London’s age 16 provision differs to the rest of the country, with higher proportions of young people in school sixth forms and on academic programmes, partly due to the higher proportion of schools with sixth forms in the capital
  • Although overall about 75% of London students remain in the same institution between ages 16 and 17, only about half of those on programmes at level 2 or below at age 16 are in the same institution at age 17, which suggests that planning for transition for these students may be less developed in London than it is elsewhere
  • Over half of year 12 students that achieved Level 1 at key stage 4 go directly onto a Level 3 course at age 16, skipping or not fully finishing Level 2, which makes the successful achievement of their post-16 studies more challenging
  • London’s lower than expected performance on headline post-16 measures can be largely explained by the extra degree of stretch given to London’s lower attainers, with students with lower prior attainment (from a low E to low C) in London studying more Level 3 courses than their peers elsewhere
  • There is limited evidence of a structured approach to delivering the three-year programmes needed by many young Londoners, particularly those with a low level of prior attainment, new arrivals to the country or those switching programmes or institutions
  • Vocational provision, and college provision generally, is often seen as a second-class option by schools and universities, and therefore in turn by parents and young people themselves.

Key Recommendations

  1. Government to monitor schools and further education leaders and governors to ensure they deliver their statutory responsibility to provide high quality Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance
  2. Central and London government, schools and further education colleges to demonstrate the value of both A level and technical and vocational programmes – including the new T levels – to parents, carers, students and employers
  3. Government to include an accountability measure to show the proportion of a school’s key stage 4 cohort who went on to achieve Level 2 or Level 3 by aged 19, to incentivise good longer-term outcomes for all pupils
  4. London government to identify and share good practice between institutions with similar levels of prior attainment including successful transitions to college
  5. Regarding three-year study programmes:
    1. Government to ensure all post-16 providers receive full funding for delivering structured three-year post-16 programmes of study
    2. Government, schools and further education colleges to promote structured programmes of three-year study.

Watch our report launch webinar: