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The impact of a skills-led qualification on GCSE attainment: the case of ASDAN's Certificate of Personal Effectiveness Education and Employers Taskforce 16 th October 2012. Neil Harrison, David James and Kathryn Last. Background to CoPE (1). Skills-led qualification offered by ASDAN

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Neil harrison david james and kathryn last

The impact of a skills-led qualification on GCSE attainment: the case of ASDAN's Certificate of Personal Effectiveness

Education and Employers Taskforce

16th October 2012

Neil Harrison, David James and Kathryn Last


Background to cope 1

Background to CoPE (1)

  • Skills-led qualification offered by ASDAN

  • Based around modules that promote learning through undertaking ‘challenges’, Plan-Do-Review process and portfolio-building (c.f. Watkins 2010)

  • Modules include Work-Based Learning and Enterpriseand Vocational Preparation- wider key skills run through all modules

  • Learner-centred, drawing on personal interests, innovative curriculum and mainstream school work


Background to cope 2

Background to CoPE (2)

  • Available at Levels 1, 2 and 3

  • This study focused on Level 2 – usually taken at KS4 and currently equivalent to B at GCSE

  • Offered across around 1,000 schools, with around 10,000 young people completing each year

  • A wide range of young people take CoPE, though pupils with lower measured ability, FSM and special educational needs are over-represented


Use of cope in schools

Use of CoPE in schools

  • We identified two main uses of CoPE:

    • ‘Thin’ – where used mainly as supplement for small minority of young people with disrupted education between KS3 and KS4 (e.g. illness, absenteeism, disengagement, behavioural issues)

    • ‘Wide’ – where used as a more mainstream tool either to enhance the curriculum, increase motivation or broaden opportunities for achievement

  • This distinction is based on data, with the ‘boundary’ set at 25% of cohort


Research method

Research method

  • Three strand approach:

    • Analysis of National Pupil Database (NPD) – statistical analysis of around 500,000 entries for cohort completing KS4 in 2010

    • Matched pairs – quasi-experimental study using pairs of learners either taking or not taking CoPE, but otherwise similar across eight variables

    • Case studies – research visits to four schools (three ‘thin’ and one ‘wide’), with interviews with learners, teachers and school managers


National pupil database analysis

National Pupil Database analysis

  • Multilevel binary logistic regression

    • Dependent variable is outcome in four variations:

      • GCSE English pass at grades A* to G

      • GCSE English pass at grades A* to C

      • GCSE English pass at grades A* or A

      • Achieving five GCSEs passes at A* to C (inc. Eng/Maths)

    • Identifies the unique impact of each variable while holding others constant

    • Accounts for clustering of learners within schools and both individual and school level variables


Variables investigated

Variables investigated


Npd findings 1

NPD findings (1)

  • GCSE English pass at A* to G:

    • In both ‘thin’ and ‘wide’ schools, taking CoPE is associated with a significantly higher likelihood

    • Other significant predictors:

      • Positive: KS3 English outcome (L6/7), gender (=female), ethnicity (=BME), ESL (=yes), high school English and Maths pass rate

      • Negative: KS3 English outcome (L2/3/4), FSM (=yes), SEN (=yes), KS3 absentee (=yes), high school deprivation


Npd findings 2

NPD findings (2)

  • GCSE English pass at A* to C:

    • In ‘wide’ schools, taking CoPE is associated with a significantly higher likelihood

    • In ‘thin’ schools, taking CoPE is associated with a significantly lower likelihood

    • Other significant predictors:

      • Positive: KS3 English outcome (L6/7), gender (=female), ethnicity (=BME), ESL (=yes), high school English and Maths pass rate, high school deprivation

      • Negative: KS3 English outcome (L2/3/4), FSM (=yes), SEN (=yes), KS3 absentee (=yes)


Gcse english a to c

GCSE English A* to C


Npd findings 3

NPD findings (3)

  • GCSE English pass at A* or A:

    • In ‘wide’ schools, taking CoPE has a non-significant relationship with the likelihood of achieving pass

    • In ‘thin’ schools, taking CoPE is associated with a significantly lower likelihood of achieving pass

    • Other significant predictors:

      • Positive: KS3 English outcome (L6/7), gender (=female), ethnicity (=BME), ESL (=yes), high school English and Maths pass rate

      • Negative: KS3 English outcome (L2/3/4), FSM (=yes), SEN (=yes), KS3 absentee (=yes)


Npd findings 4

NPD findings (4)

  • Five GCSE passes at A* to C inc Eng/Maths:

    • In ‘wide’ schools, taking CoPE is associated with a significantly higher likelihood

    • In ‘thin’ schools, taking CoPE is associated with a significantly lower likelihood

    • Other significant predictors:

      • Positive: KS3 English outcome (L6/7), ethnicity (=BME), ESL (=yes), high school English and Maths pass rate, high school deprivation

      • Negative: KS3 English outcome (L2/3/4), gender (=female), FSM (=yes), SEN (=yes), KS3 absentee (=yes)


Five gcses at a to c inc e m

Five GCSEs at A* to C (inc. E&M)


Paired sample analysis 1

Paired sample analysis (1)

  • 200 young people completing CoPE in a ‘wide’ school chosen at random from NPD data

  • Matched with 200 young people in schools not offering CoPE across eight variables:

    • KS3 outcomes and regular absenteeism during KS3

    • Gender, ethnicity, special educational needs and English as additional language

    • Free school meals and neighbourhood deprivation

  • Creates two ‘identical’ schools for comparison


Paired sample analysis 2

Paired sample analysis (2)

GCSE English pass at

A* to C

132

150

No CoPE

CoPE in ‘wide’ school


Paired sample analysis 3

Paired sample analysis (3)

  • Robust quasi-experimental study

  • The ‘CoPE school’ outperformed the ‘non CoPE school’ across all measures

  • Mix of significant and non-significant effects

  • Average uplift of one-fifth of a grade, but much higher for some


Interpretation of findings

Interpretation of findings

  • In ‘thin’ schools:

    • CoPE is directed towards learners expected to severely underperform relative to KS3 outcomes

    • Learners do still underperform in relation to achieving A* to C grades, but more likely to take exams and achieve D or E grades (not F, G or U)

    • CoPE perceived to mitigate underperformance

  • In ‘wide’ schools:

    • CoPE is associated with better A* to C pass rates, but not achievement of top grades (A* to A) where subject knowledge vital alongside skills


Does cope work better for some

Does CoPE work better for some?

  • Positive relationship of CoPE stronger for:

    • Those with special educational needs

    • Those receiving free school meals

    • Those from minority ethnic communities, including those with English as a second/subsidiary language

  • Suggests specific role for challenging educational disadvantage

  • No coherent relationship between CoPE and gender


Why does cope work

Why does CoPE work?

  • Not possible to examine statistically

  • Rich qualitative data from case study schools

  • Three possible mechanisms identified:

    • Transferability of skills from CoPE to GCSEs – especially written communication

    • Increased motivation – learners actively enjoy CoPE and this engages them with other learning

    • Use of wider knowledge and activity base increases confidence and self-esteem – connects school to ‘lived lives’


Why does it matter

Why does it matter?

  • CoPE is caught up in the current ‘bonfire of the vocationals’. The loss of official equivalence with GCSE will mean schools are much less likely to offer CoPE. Thus:

    • Loss of a learning process that appears to help a large number of pupils to gain better GCSEs (regarded by some as a prime indicator of labour supply skills)

    • Loss of explicit work-related opportunities for many pupils at the same time as the removal of the statutory requirement for WRL


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