Post-16 educational transitions: choice and progression in the transition from secondary education

The experience of GCSE lower attainers and the potential for change at the city-region level.

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, this project aims to investigate the opportunities and trajectories for 16 to 18-year-olds in England who have not achieved grade C or above in English and Maths at GCSE.

Success in GCSEs at 16 continues to act as the key watershed for further progression – in education, training and employment - nearly twenty years on since Pearce and Hillman (1998) highlighted the problem in their study of the nation’s low rates of post-16 participation in education and training.

A new project report is now available (March 2019): Contrasting Characteristics and Destinations of GCSE Lower Attainers in English Core City Regions 

We published the first working paper from this project in October 2018, focusing on the characteristics and post-16 transitions of lower attainers.

The study focuses on three key areas:

  • Understanding the characteristics of this group of learners and identifying their different attainment profiles both prior to and after GCSEs
  • Identifying how learners with different characteristics and attainment profiles progress in the 16-18 phase
  • Investigating how different factors at the local level such as training provision and transport influence their opportunities and success in this phase

As part of the project, the researchers will bring together individual-level data with information on post-16 pathways and options provided in two city-regions in England. This will allow them to identify how new localised strategies for policy and practice might be designed to enable schools, sixth form colleges, Further Education colleges and training providers to improve social mobility in post-16 education and training.

The project also aims to provide important early evidence about how recent GCSE reforms and the introduction of Progress 8 may impact on this group of learners.

For more information contact: Rebecca Bromley, Project Coordinator.