A small number of providers have contacted us recently as they’re concerned about differences between their 2015/16 QAR figures on the SFA dashboard and those in the PICS Achievement Rates report.
We can confirm that some providers will be seeing differences due to changes in how the SFA process your data. Specifically, the introduction of what are termed Overdue Continuing learners may have reduced your Overall achievement rate. The QAR Business Rules define these learners as follows:
Include and treat as withdrawn continuing learners in the final return for an academic year that do not appear in the following academic year
Include learners withdrawn due to a planned break in learning if they do not restart
There are many circumstances where a learner could be classed as Overdue Continuing, such as:
A learner was deleted from PICS after the hard-close of the previous year
A learner was completely withdrawn from learning after the hard-close of the previous year
The start date of the learner was changed after the hard-close of the previous year
The programme of learning was changed after the hard-close of the previous year
For the last two scenarios, the SFA use an algorithm to match aims across years, but due to the nature of the changes made they would assume these are different aims and therefore you’ll end up with multiple programmes for the same learner in the current year.
Some learners will be classed as Overdue Continuing through completely unavoidable circumstances, but in many cases the reason is down to changing ILR-specific data in PICS that relates to a year which has been closed to further exports. After this point it’s not possible to communicate your changes to the SFA, although as of this year there are now some changes that can be late-notified (see section11.2 of the Provider Support manual). It’s vitally important to ensure changes to ILR data are made in a timely fashion if you wish to avoid them being classed as Overdue Continuing.
So why the difference in figures between PICS and the QAR? The problem here is not that we’re calculating the figures differently, but that we’re calculating on different data. As PICS is a live system, rather than the collection of snapshots used by the SFA, the figures in PICS are based on how your data currently looks and won’t include data issues such as the ones listed above. It’s almost impossible for us to use the same data as the SFA, as even if we knew which data you’d exported in your final R14 return, we could never be sure what was successfully processed by them. Because of the differences in data, the figures in PICS should only ever be considered indicative, as it’s the SFA figures you’re measured on.
We’re currently working on changes to our QAR Reconciler which we hope will make it easier to understand any differences between the PICS report and the official QAR. In the meantime, we’d encourage you to cross-reference data from the Breakdown tab of the PICS report against the QAR output data you can obtain from the Hub for any learners who are shown on the reconciliation report. When you see differences in the data you can then use the PICS Learner Change Logs to check when those changes were made, and if they were done after the hard-close of the relevant year this will account for the discrepancy. If you need assistance in doing this, the Support team will be able to help if they can have sight of your QAR output and a backup of your data. Contact us on 01603 492620 or via email@example.com for further details of how to get this information to us securely.