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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

Understanding participation in post-compulsory education and training in Wales

Research overview

The research project will help policy makers and educational researchers to understand learning in Wales, especially vocational versus non-vocational. The Welsh Government is committed to encouraging young people to stay in education after the age of 16, and to open up further education to those who may be disengaged with formal schooling. This research will help to explore factors which may influence learners’ choices.



The research will trace individual trajectories through the education system, to investigate how their journey is influenced by their social characteristics and previous educational attainment, helping to shape the Welsh Government’s policies to encourage people to stay in education longer.


Government departments

The project aims to use different educational datasets.

More about the research

This research project will analyse how individuals who are resident in Wales progress through secondary school, into sixth forms and further education colleges for post-16 education. Specifically it seeks to identify different learning pathways into post compulsory education and to examine factors which affect vocational learning over academic qualifications.

The research project will assist policy makers and educational researchers in understanding the learning landscape in Wales, with a particular emphasis on vocational versus non-vocational routes. The Welsh Government has set a commitment to encourage young people to stay in education after the age of 16, with one of their policies being to increase learner flexibility as a way of opening up further education to those who may be disengaged with formal schooling . However barriers may remain, such as language ability and or access to further educational provision which may dampen the effectiveness of flexible choice policies. This research will therefore be of policy importance in exploring some of these factors which may influence learner choices.

Understanding the effects of divergent policies within devolved areas such as education underlies the importance of providing the data resources necessary to support their evaluation. These resources will be particularly important if consistency in their derivation can be achieved in relation to the linked educational databases that are currently available within England. In focusing on the factors influencing vocational learning, this forms the precursor to studies which currently look at the progression of apprentices and vocational learners into Higher Education.


Date Approved 

June 2015 

Research team

Rhys Davies and Ian Thomas, ADRC Wales, Cardiff University

Page last updated: 24/10/2017