Post-16 Education and Training

Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

Annual data for 2015 showed that 4.4% of young people aged 16-18 were not in education, employment or training (NEET). This was very similar to the England average (4.2%) and has reduced every year since 2011, when 7.6% of young people were NEET.


The number of Advanced apprenticeship starts rose slightly last year and the number of Higher starts increased from 170 to 250 (see chart below). Intermediate level are the most common apprenticeships started, and these typically lead to a Level 2 qualification (equivalent to five good GCSE passes). Higher level apprenticeships lead to a Level 4 or above qualification. The split of Higher, to Advanced, to Intermediate level is very similar to the England average.

Source: FE Data Library

In total, there were 4,100 apprenticeship starts in 2016/17, up 1.2% from the previous year. Across England as a whole starts fell by 3.6%, and across the Leeds City Region they fell 3.8%. Apprenticeships span a wide range of subjects, with 30% of starts being in the business, administration and law sector (see table below).

Apprenticeship starts by sector 2016/17. Source: FE Data Library

A Levels

There are no official A Level participation rates published, but crude rates can be calculated using exam entrant numbers. Accordingly, 25% of Wakefield’s 18 –year-olds took at least one A Level in 2016, compared to 35% across England as a whole. Conversely, 25% of the district’s 18-year olds took a tech level or applied general Level 3 qualification, compared to just 18% across England. Of the 974 students entered for an A Level or Applied A Level in 2016, 341 were male and 633 were female. This gender bias is much more pronounced in Wakefield than it is across England as a whole. By contrast, male students were more likely than female students to take tech level qualifications.

Results for 2016 show the average points score per A Level entry (29.7) was only slightly lower than the England average (31.8) (all schools, not just state funded), but only 8.5% of pupils achieved AAB grades or better, compared to 17.0% across England as a whole.

English is the A-Level subject studied most often in Wakefield, followed by psychology and sociology (it’s the same across the English state-sector as a whole). Business studies and law make up a higher proportion of total Wakefield entries than is seen across England as a whole (see table below).

Top-20 most popular A Levels. Source: FE Data Library

Higher Education

Numbers of local people studying in higher education (HE) institutions in the UK had been increasing gradually but then dipped when higher tuition fees were introduced (see chart below). There was a small increase in numbers in academic year 2015/16, with 6,990 people from the Wakefield district engaged in higher education across the UK. The total includes more women than men – the ratio is around 6:4. Around 70% of the district’s higher education students are aged under 25 years old, and 20% are aged 30 or over.

In 2014/15, 1,260 people from Wakefield district were awarded a first degree, and 440 were awarded a postgraduate degree.

Source: HESA

There are no official annual HE participation rates published for people of all ages, but it is possible to calculate proxy measures. Accordingly, in 2015/16, 3.5% of people in Wakefield were enrolled in Higher Education somewhere in the UK (% calculated using people aged 18-64). Although the national (UK) participation rate is higher, at 4.6%, the gap between Wakefield and the UK rate has been narrowing gradually over the past ten years.

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are much less likely to enter Higher Education than other pupils, with only 14% of Wakefield's 15 year olds eligible for free school meals (FSM) entering HE by aged 19, compared to 24% across England as a whole (2014/15). There has been some improvement over the past eight years (see graph below), but the gap between those eligible for free school meals, and those not, has remained fairly constant.

The small-area geography of higher education participation among school leavers can be visualized by the POLAR4 4 dataset from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The POLAR4 has been calculated using administrative data for five cohorts of young people. The five cohorts are those who were aged 15 at the start of the school years that began from autumn 2006 to autumn 2011, and hence who could have entered HE between the academic years 2009-10 and 2013-14 aged 18 or between 2010-11 and 2014-15 aged 19. The Sandal area of Wakefield has the highest participation rate, at 83%, followed by the Walton, Notton and Woolley area (58%). The lowest participation rates are in Knottingley (13%), Airedale and Ferry Fryston (13%), Kinsley and Fitzwilliam (15%) Eastmoor (16%) Featherstone (16%) and Lupset (16%).

Percentage of people aged 18/19 entering HE between 2009/10 and 2014/15, by MSOA.
Source: HEFCE

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