Call us: 0300 30 30 333
Home Menu

Students and qualifications at level 3 and below in England

Secondary group work website.jpg


The DfE has published an analysis of students and post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England, including student outcomes.

These statistics provide an overview of the post-16 qualifications studied at level 3 and below, including students characteristics and activities, as well as the post-16 qualifications market at level 3 and below.

Key findings:

  • Nearly half (47%) of 16 to 18 year olds were studying A Level qualifications, with 22% studying qualifications below level 3.
  • Of all 16 to 19 year old students at level 3 and below:
    • A Level students have the highest proportion (98%) holding at least 5 A*-C GCSEs, compared to 58% of learners studying other level 3 qualifications.
    • The majority studying at level 3 are women (52%), while the majority studying below level 3 are men (60%).
    • Students who received some special educational needs (SEN) support and those who were eligible for free school meals (FSM) at academic age 15, were more likely to be studying qualifications below level 3, and particularly below level 2.
    • Compared to the average, those from white backgrounds are strongly represented on apprenticeships and non-GCSE level 2 qualifications. Students from Asian backgrounds are particularly strongly represented in higher education and on A Level qualifications, while students from black backgrounds are most strongly represented on Applied General Qualifications (AGQ). 

About the data:

  • This ad-hoc statistical release is being published to support the first stage consultation of the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England. It pulls together multiple data sources, to provide a range of analysis of the trends in enrolments in qualifications at level 3 and below, to help understand the need for, and potential impact of, reforms to qualifications
  • You may find these statistics helpful if you wish to respond to the government consultation review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England.
First published 20 March 2019