The ESFA have released the first in-year QARs based on the ILR data submitted in R10. They have also published guidance on the reports and the May edition of Inform also includes advice on the Funding Rules Monitoring reports which can highlight possible impacts on QAR data.
Whilst these are not the final QARs for 2018, we strongly urge all providers to familiarise themselves with the guidance and reports and check the QAR data against PICS using the QAR Reconciler as there is still currently opportunity to query the calculations and make changes to the ILR data before the year end.
Changes for 2018 QARs
Alongside the in-year QARs, the ESFA have also published the 2018 QAR dataset specifications and there are several key changes to the methodology for 2018:
The exclusion rule to exclude early leavers no longer excludes aims where RESTART = 1. This means that if a learner returns after a planned break (or other aim restart) and then leaves shortly after, they will no longer be excluded from the QAR.
Flexible Learning Fund learners (with LDM 360) are excluded.
Work experience aim ZWRKX002 is now excluded.
The following exclusion rules are no longer applied:
Classroom aim reported through the employer responsive funding stream
Aim funded by the LLDD Placement budget
Joint investment Programme aim
Learner is receiving Universal Credit
These changes will be reflected in the Achievement Rates reports as of PICS 15.20.012.11 (planned release on Tuesday 9th July).
Data Extracts to Include Excluded Learners
The ESFA supply a full data breakdown which shows all aim data which is used to calculate the QAR totals. In previous years this was comprised of a data spreadsheet and a separate file containing all aims which were excluded form the calculations. As of 2018 these files have been combined into a single report containing both included and excluded learners.
The PICS QAR Reconciler already filters out any learners marked as excluded in the QAR data breakdown so this change will not affect the reconciliation report. However, as of PICS 15.20.012.11 the PICS not QAR tab of the reconciliation report will show the exclusion reason for any aim which is included in the PICS Achievement Rates but excluded from the QAR. The reasons shown use the variable names from the QAR Dataset specification.
Changes to Hybrid End Year Calculation
The ESFA have also clarified how they calculate the Hybrid End Year (referred to in PICS as the Overall Cohort Year). As of 2018 the report now uses the Year First Reported Completed value, in addition to the planned and actual end dates, to determine the hybrid end year. Therefore, if an aim which ended in 2017 is first reported as ended in the 2018 ILR, the QAR will include it in the Overall totals for 2018. This can potentially penalise providers who did not report aims or programmes which ended before 1st August 2018 by the 2017 R13 submission in October 2018.
PICS currently does not include this change in the Achievement reports, but we are currently investigating how to reliably identify cases where the aim end has been reported after the year end. Until such time you may find that there are some differences between the QAR and PICS reports if data was entered very late.