The annual average growth rate of public service education productivity from 1996 to 2013 was 0.2% a year compared with the annual average growth for 1996 to 2012 of 0.4%
In 2013, productivity fell by 2.8% due to inputs growth of 1.0% combined will a fall in output of 1.8%
This is the second-lowest annual fall in education productivity across the series; the lowest being 3.1% in 2002, and follows 3 years of productivity growth from 2010 to 2012
The fall in quality adjusted output in 2013 was the first in the series due to a negative contribution of the quality adjustment of 2.2% offsetting a small growth in the quantity of output of 0.4%
Changes in quality adjusted education output and productivity in recent years should be considered in the context of recent qualifications reforms which impact on comparability of attainment data over time
Education inputs growth of 1.0% in 2013 is below the series average of 1.9% as a result of lower growth in goods and services
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This release contains updated estimates of output, inputs and productivity for public service education in the UK between 1996 and 2012, in addition to new estimates for 2013. Figures are published on a calendar year basis for consistency with the UK National Accounts. Our public service productivity estimates were developed in response to the recommendations of the Atkinson Review on the measurement of government output and productivity for the National Accounts1.
Public service education productivity is estimated by comparing growth in the total amount of education output with growth in the total amount of inputs used. Productivity will increase when more output is being produced for each unit of input compared with the previous year. Estimates of output, inputs and productivity are given as both growth rates which show the change from the previous year, and as indices which show the overall trend over time compared to the base year in 1996.
Estimates are constructed using data from each of the devolved administrations where available, with their individual growth rates weighted together by their relative share of total UK education expenditure. Trends in output, inputs and productivity for England tend to drive the overall UK trend as England has the largest expenditure share; therefore, much of the additional context provided in this article to aid interpretation of the estimates relates to the English education system.
Education output is the quantity of education delivered adjusted for the quality of delivery. The quantity is measured as the number of students adjusted for attendance and the quality is measured based on student examination performance. Education inputs are composed of labour, goods and services, and consumption of fixed capital. Further information on methods is available in our sources and methods paper2.
It is important to note that while these productivity estimates provide a measure of the amount of output which is produced for each unit of input, they do not measure value for money or the wider performance of public education services. They do not indicate, for example, whether the inputs have been purchased at the lowest possible cost, or whether the desired outcomes are achieved through the output provided.
The estimates in this release have an open revisions policy, meaning that each time a new article is published revisions can occur for the whole of the time period. The majority of changes in this article are due to a new quality adjustment measure for England and changes to the treatment of academies which is explained in the previously published methods change paper3.
Notes for introduction
Public service education output consists of estimates of the quantity of education delivered adjusted for changes in the quality of delivery. The quantity of output is measured as the number of students adjusted for absence for each of the following sectors which are weighted together to produce an overall output quantity series:
publicly funded private, voluntary and independent pre-school places (PVIs)
primary schools (Local Authority maintained and academies)
secondary schools (Local Authority maintained and academies)
special schools (Local Authority maintained and academies)
higher education initial training of teachers (ITT)
higher education training of health professionals
Figure 2a shows the quantity output growth by sector before it is weighted by expenditure share. Figure 2b presents this information after weighting, showing how growth in each sector contributes to the growth in overall output quantity. For ease of interpretation, separate contributions are reported for primary schools, secondary schools and further education and the remainder are grouped as other.
Between 2000 and 2009, the number of students in primary schools fell each year with the largest fall of -1.6% in 2005 (Figure 2a). From 2010, primary school pupil numbers grew at an increasing rate with the largest growth in the series of 2.4% in 2012. There was a slightly smaller growth of 2.1% in 2013.
From 2005, secondary schools also saw a fall in output, reflecting the previous periods’ smaller cohort of primary school students going into secondary schools. The trend in growth rates between primary and secondary schools is not identical because the secondary school category contains all-through schools which include primary aged pupils, and there is movement of pupils between the public and private education sectors.
Primary and secondary schools have the largest shares of expenditure at 35.3% and 38.2% respectively in 20121, together making up nearly three-quarters of total expenditure. Despite its large expenditure share, small growth rates in secondary school output quantity from 2004 to 2012 contribute a little to overall quantity growth (Figure 2b). Primary schools, along with further education, are seen to be driving the growth in output in the last 3 years of the series. In 2013, a negative contribution from secondary schools of 0.4 percentage points (mirroring a negative contribution from primary schools of 0.3% in 2008) does not quite offset the strong positive contribution of 0.7% from primary schools, leading to a small rise in overall output quantity.
Further education output quantity grew by 0.1% in 2013 compared with the annual average growth from 1996 to 2012 of 0.9%2, though further education growth is more volatile than primary and secondary schools. Further education’s expenditure share is small and has been decreasing over time, from 16% in 1996 to 12.4% in 2012.
In September 2013, the school leaving age in England was changed from 16 to 17 years. Any increase in further education output quantity as a result of this change is not reflected in further education output quantity growth of 0.1% in 2013 for a number of reasons:
only part of this change is captured in the 2013 calendar year, as the 2013 calendar year is comprised of part of the 2012 to 2013 academic year and part of the 2013 to 2014 academic year
upon leaving secondary school, 88% of English students already chose to enter into further education in 2012 to 2013 leaving limited capacity for further growth3
the change occurred in England only therefore figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are unaffected
Higher growth rates for the "Other" category between 1997 and 2003 are driven by large growth rates for publicly funded pre-school education, which coincides with the introduction by all UK administrations between 1998 and 2002 of a free, part-time early education place for 3 and 4 year olds. The remaining sectors contribute little to the overall trend due to a combination of small growth rates and a low expenditure shares. From 2004 to 2013, the contribution to output quantity growth from other sectors has been between -0.1% and 0.2% in every year. In the latest year, 2013:
special schools witnessed a small positive growth in output quantity of 1.1%, continuing a trend of small positive growth starting in 2008
training of health professionals quantity output fell by 3.3% which was smaller than the 5.3% fall in 2012, though both of these growth rates are low compared to growth of around 10% in each year in the series up to 2004. High growth rates early in the series coincide with reforms to the training of nurses requiring them to obtain diplomas or degrees.
ITT growth rates were positive for the first time since 2009 at 1.9% – this is likely to be a reflection of the reform of teacher training in England which opened up 5,000 more spaces in 20134
Notes for output quantity
To combine growth rates for each component, expenditure shares for the previous year are used in the calculation of a Laspeyres index. For more information, see Robjohns (2006): Methodological Note: Annual chain-linking (58 Kb Pdf)
Average growth rates for cumulative growth across the whole series are geometric means calculated using the formula: [(index in current year/index in base year)^(1/(number of years-1))]-1
In line with the recommendations of the Atkinson Review1 a quality-adjustment is applied to the estimate of education quantity. Quality of education is challenging to measure as it encompasses many aspects of a child’s education; therefore, due to the practicality of what it is possible to consistently measure, exam performance is used as a proxy for quality. The method applied to all primary and secondary schools for England has changed since the previous article. The use of Key-Stage 4 (GCSE) all examination average point scores (APS)2 has been replaced by the use of Level 2 attainment3 at age 16 from 2008 onwards. For the period up to 2008, APS continue to be used. More information on this change and its impact on previously published estimates, can be found in the revisions section of this article as well as the associated methods change paper4. The new quality adjustment for England is applied for Northern Ireland and APS continue to be used for Scotland and Wales. For ITT, the proportion of students who achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) each year is used as a quality adjustment. No quality adjustment is applied to the other sectors.
Figure 3 shows the contribution of quality adjustment to the total output. The quantity output index throughout the series has remained fairly constant with an annual average growth rate of 0.4% between 1996 and 2013 with changes likely to reflect changes in the school age population. Given schooling is compulsory from the age of 5 in the UK, population trends are directly reflected in the pupil census data that are used in the estimates of education quantity. The trend of increasing output over time in the quality adjusted output index is therefore being driven almost entirely by changes in the quality measure.
The impact of the quality adjustment on ITT is small, with the application of the quality adjustment changing the contribution of ITT to total output growth by no more than 0.01 percentage points in any year. Thus the impact of overall quality adjustment is almost entirely a result of the adjustment to primary and secondary schools.
Overall, the impact of the quality adjustment was positive in all years from 1997 to 2011 and has increased the annual average growth rate of output over the whole series from 1996 to 2013, from 0.4% to 2.1%. Quality adjusted output continued to grow in 2012 due to strong quantity growth of 1.9% despite a negative contribution of the quality adjustment of 0.5 percentage points. In 2013, smaller output quantity growth of 0.4% combined with a strong negative contribution of -2.2 percentage points from the quality adjustment led to the first fall of quality adjusted education output of 1.8%.
Caution should be used when interpreting the change in the quality adjusted output trend from 2008 onwards. Over this period there have been changes to the examinations which count towards school performance statistics in England, which has influenced both the number and type of examinations sat by some pupils. As a result, some of the change in attainment statistics used for quality adjustment may not be entirely caused by changes in the quality of education provided. In particular, changes to school performance tables announced by the Department for Education – as a result of Professor Alison Wolf’s review of vocational education5 – limited the size and number of non-GCSEs that counted towards performance which impacted on attainment statistics from the academic year 2012 to 20136.
Notes for output quality
Level 2 attainment equates to achievement of 5 or more GCSEs at grade A*-C or an eligible Level 2 vocational qualification of equivalent size see DfE (2015) Level 2 and 3 attainment by young people in England
The Wolf Report (2011) - Review of Vocational Education
Inputs to publicly-funded education are broken down into 3 components, weighted together using their share of total education expenditure:
labour: full-time equivalent teacher numbers, support staff and central government expenditure on labour services
goods and services: the purchase of goods and services which could include anything from exercise books to lighting and heating
consumption of fixed capital: the amount of capital stock used each year made up of depreciation and other capital charges
Figure 4a shows inputs growth by component before it is weighted by expenditure share. Figure 4b presents this information after weighting, showing how growth in each component contributes to the growth in overall education inputs.
From 1996 to 2013, the annual average growth rate of labour inputs was 1.3%, with highest growth rate of 4.0% in 2001 and the largest fall of 2.9% in 1999. In 2013, labour inputs grew faster than average at 2.6% due to an increase in the number of support staff. This coincides with an extra 5,000 places on teacher training schemes in England which provided paid placements in schools. In 20121 labour expenditure accounted for 61% of total public service education spending and labour was the dominant contributor to total inputs growth prior to 2002. The contribution of labour inputs has been smaller in more recent years, though the positive contribution of 1.6 percentage points in 2013 drives the overall positive growth rate in this year.
Goods and services is a volatile component and had an expenditure share of 26% in 2012. Growth in goods and services is positive in the majority of years until 2010 and years with very high growth in goods and services such as 2008 and 2009 drive the strong growth in the total volume of inputs in these years.
After an initial increase in growth rates of fixed capital consumption from the start of the series to the largest growth of 5.2% in 2002, growth rates have decreased over time to 2.8% in 2013. Capital consumption has a small expenditure share of 13% in 2012 and consequently contributes relatively little to the growth rate of total inputs in each year.
Overall, public service education inputs have grown in every year of the series since 2000, with the exception of a marginal fall of 0.2% in 2011 where a fall in the volume of goods and services offsets an increase in the volume of labour. From 2010 onwards, the growth rate of inputs has slowed, with an annual average growth rate over the period 2010 to 2013 of 0.7% compared with the annual average growth rate of inputs over the whole series from 1996 to 2013 of 1.9%.
Notes for inputs
- To combine growth rates for each component, expenditure shares for the previous year are used in the calculation of a Laspeyres index. For more information, see Robjohns (2006): Methodological Note: Annual chain-linking (58 Kb Pdf)
Public service education productivity is estimated by comparing growth in the total amount of education output with growth in the total amount of inputs used. Productivity growth will occur when output growth is greater than inputs growth; that is, when more output is being produced for each unit of input compared to the previous year.
Figure 5 compares the trends in education productivity calculated using both quantity and quality adjusted output.
Non-quality adjusted education productivity grew slowly between 1996 and 1999 caused by low output growth of less than 1.2% in each year combined with a slight fall in inputs of 0.5% or less. Non-quality adjusted education productivity then declined between 2000 and 2010 as a result of a switch to strong inputs growth outstripping slow growth or falls in output quantity which only exceeded 1% in 2002 and 2003. In particular, falls in productivity between 2005 and 2010 reflect falls in the number of students in primary, secondary and further education while inputs continued to rise.
In 2011 and 2012, non-quality adjusted education productivity grew for the first time since 1999 with renewed growth in the quantity of output driven by growth in the primary and further education sectors. Non-quality adjusted productivity fell again in 2013 as continued inputs growth of 1.0% exceeded slower quantity output growth of 0.4%.
The quality adjustment added a large amount to output growth between 1996 and 1999, leading to much stronger productivity growth in the quality adjusted series. The quality adjustment continued to be positive from 2000 to 2011 reversing falls in non-quality adjusted productivity in 2003, 2004 and 2010, though quality adjusted productivity still fell on average between 2000 and 2010 by 0.6% per year.
In 2011, the positive impact of the quality adjustment more than doubled productivity growth to 3.1%, the largest productivity growth in the series since 1999. In 2012, the contribution of the quality adjustment was negative for the first time reducing productivity by 0.5 percentage points. The quality adjustment continued to have a negative impact in 2013, increasing the existing fall in non-quality adjusted productivity from 0.6% to 2.8%. This was composed on an input growth of 1.0%, a non quality adjusted output increase of 0.4% and reduction to output of 2.2 percentage points from the quality adjustment.
Caution should be exercised when interpreting the trend in the quality-adjusted productivity series in recent years due to changes to the examination system and performance tables in England. These changes may impact on the comparability over time of the attainment data used for the quality adjustment, particularly in the period from 2012 to 20131.
Over the whole series from 1996 to 2013, non-quality adjusted productivity fell by an average of 1.5% per year. This becomes an annual average growth of 0.2% when the quality adjustment is applied.
Notes for productivityBack to table of contents
In this release, there have been major revisions from 2008 to 2012 due to changes in the method of quality adjustment for England and the treatment of academies. A detailed account of these changes and their impact on previously published estimates of public service education output, inputs, and productivity can be found in the previously published methods change paper1.
The method for quality adjusting output for England has been changed from using Key-Stage 4 all examination, Average Point Score to using Level 2 attainment statistics from 2008 onwards. Changes in 2013 to the method of calculating Key-Stage 4 Total Average Point Score means there is a structural break in the attainment series and it would not be possible to apply the APS attainment measure on a consistent basis. Evidence also suggests that significant increases in the APS in England between 2008 to 2009 and 2012 to 2013 can, in part, be attributed to increases in the number of non-GCSE examinations taken and are not fully reflective of changes in education quality. The selected Level 2 attainment statistics provide a consistent historical time series which will also be more resistant to future planned changes in the education system. Prior to 2008, APS continue to be used.
The second change was to the treatment of academies, which we are now treated in the same way as all other state-funded schools in the calculations of both output and inputs. This creates a more realistic time series which avoids spurious changes in inputs caused by conversion of maintained schools to academies since 2010.
Figure 6 illustrates revisions as a result of these changes and other small revisions to source data. The largest change to quality adjusted education productivity was in 2012 where upward revisions to inputs of 3.2 percentage points combined with small downward revisions to output of 0.5 percentage points lead to a downward revision in productivity growth of -3.8 percentage points from 4.3% to 0.5%.
Notes for revisionsBack to table of contents
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