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1. Overview

These notes are for use by maintained secondary schools, middle schools, and local authorities in completing the post-16 collection in September/October 2023. 

References to ’academic year’, should be read as academic year starting 01/09/2022 to 31/08/2023. 

References to ‘academic year +1’,should be read as academic year starting 01/09/2023 to 31/08/2024.

It is recommended that you read the full technical completion notes alongside this document. The technical completion notes are available at Post-16 data collection.

2. Frequently asked questions

2.1 What reference should I use for Learning Activities?

Learning activity references have been replaced by Qualifications Wales Approval/Designation (QWAD) numbers. These can be found on the Qualification in Wales (QiW) website.

2.2 How will the data be used in the monitoring and allocation of funding?

Programme data will be used in a number of ways:


  1. to compare performance against the final delivery plans submitted in March each year
  2. to compare performance against the previous years’ allocations


  1. to derive an average programme value to inform future years’ allocations
  2. to compare performance against previous years’ allocations
  3. to ensure compliance with the programme specification
  4. to compare and contrast varying delivery modes and methods

2.3 How will the data be used in the post-16 performance measures?

The post-16 collection is a whole year data submission that uses learning programme and activity codes to identify the programmes, qualifications, subject and level of the learning activities undertaken in the previous academic year. It enables the Welsh Government to use the data to calculate the achievement measures, which include the retention and achievement of learners undertaking A-level, vocational and Welsh Baccalaureate programmes.

2.4 How do you record the start and end date of a Programme where the learning activities being undertaken span two academic years?

Each programme should have the relevant learning activities attached to it. The start date of the programme should be the date that the first learning activity begins, and the end date should be the date that the last learning activity is completed. If a pupil drops a learning activity during the academic year, that learning activity end date and completion status should reflect this.

The AS programme should be recorded as completed because the school will record an A2 programme for the second year of study. Any learning activity that spans two years (for example Welsh Baccalaureate, Skills Challenge Certificate, or BTEC Extended Diploma) should be recorded as continuing at the end of the first year. It should then be included in the next year’s collection (under the A2 programme).

2.5 How does a school decide if a Learning Activity Category is ‘Main’ or ‘Other’?

A ‘main’ learning activity would be an AS-level, A-level, BTEC, or Welsh Baccalaureate/Skills Challenge Certificate, whilst an ‘other’ learning activity consists of any core and community learner industry focus (CLIF) components. This could include a GCSE resit or an industry specific requirement, for example Health and Safety Certificate.

2.6 Should schools still send details of courses for which there are no timetabled classes but teaching towards the qualification takes place in another class, for example Essential Skills Wales?

Yes. We want any activity being undertaken by a pupil to be included on the post-16 return. It’s not about how it’s timetabled as we no longer request guided contact hours (GCH) at activity level. We do however want to know what pupils are being taught and what they may or may not achieve. Learning activity information will, where possible, be automatically extracted from your management information system; however, where class information has not been input for a pupil, the post–16 return must be manually amended or supplemented after your software has automatically generated the initial compilation of your return.

An example of this is where you may be delivering Essential Skills Wales qualifications in an integrated curriculum. Whilst these qualifications may not be separately timetabled, they should still be included as an activity delivered on the post-16 collection.

2.7 As far as the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification is concerned, should each learning activity be included in its own right as well as the overarching Welsh Baccalaureate?

Yes, to achieve the post-16 Welsh Baccalaureate, learners must achieve the Skills Challenge Certificate at the relevant level together with specified main and supporting qualifications. We also want to capture where pupils are completing component qualifications even where they do not achieve the full Welsh Baccalaureate. Therefore any activity being undertaken by a pupil towards achievement of the post-16 Welsh Baccalaureate should be included in the post-16 collection.

2.8 What should we record if a pupil moves from one programme to another during the academic year?

A decision tree has been included in the technical completion notes to assist with the actions to be undertaken for transfers and withdrawals.

2.9 How should the guided contact hours (GCH) be recorded for each programme?

An estimate of the planned number of teaching, instructional or assessment contact hours for the programme (rounded to a whole number) for this learning programme in this current post-16 collection academic year. If a programme spans two years, only the planned guided contact hours for the current post-16 collection academic year are required.

Please note this should not be lifted from awarding body recommendations but rather what your school plans to timetable. For example, if your school delivers AS levels at 4 hours per week, over a period of 30 school weeks, then each AS level would account for 160 hours against the total programme GCH.

2.10 Is there a lower time limit you expect each programme to be delivered in?

No there is not a ‘set in stone’ timescale that we expect schools to deliver each programme. Each programme is funded on the basis of a typical number of GCH. Delivering in less time than this is acceptable but will form part of the programme monitoring to ensure the typical learner remains accurate.

2.11 How do I record a pupil if they don't fit into a programme outlined in the programmes directory?

Where there is no exact programme code, the following general rules should be applied:

  • mixture of A2 and AS levels – make it an A2 equivalent
  • mixture of AS and other qualifications (for example BTEC) – make it an AS equivalent
  • mixture of A2 and other qualifications (for example BTEC) – make it an A2 equivalent
  • where GCSEs are being undertaken as part of an A level or equivalent programme, it is expected that these GCSEs would be delivered as part of the CLIF (recorded as ‘other in the post-16 collection) element of the Learning Programme
  • if a pupil is undertaking a vocational programme but taking an AS-level to supplement it, vocational programme code should be used

A table detailing the Programme queries we have had to date is included below:

Qualifications Programme Code
2 A2, 1 GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate 2 A2 and Welsh Bacc 0023C03B
1 A2, 1 AS and Welsh Baccalaureate 2 A2 equivalent and Welsh Bacc 0023C03B
1 A2, 1AS, 1 GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate 2 A2 equivalent and Welsh Bacc 0023C03B
2 AS, 1 GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate 2 AS and Welsh Bacc 0013D03B
3 A2, 1 GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate 3 A2 and Welsh Bacc 0024C03B
2 A2, 1 AS and Welsh Baccalaureate 3 A2 equivalent and Welsh Bacc 0024D03B
1 A2, 2 AS and Welsh Baccalaureate 3 A2 equivalent and Welsh Bacc 0024D03B
3 AS, 2 GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate 3 AS and Welsh Bacc 0014C03B
2 AS, 4 GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate 2 AS equivalent and Welsh Bacc 0013D03B
3 A2, 1 AS and Welsh Baccalaureate 4 A2 equivalent and Welsh Bacc 0025D03B
4 AS, 1 GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate 4 AS and Welsh Bacc 0015D03B
3 AS, 1 equivalent and Welsh Baccalaureate 4AS equivalent with Welsh Bacc 0015D03B
2 AS Non-funded programme 99999999
2 AS equivalent Non-funded programme 99999999
1 A2 and 1 key skill Non-funded programme 99999999
(Dual registered) Subsidiary pupil taking one AS/A2 Non-funded programme (should be recorded by the home (Main) school) 99999999

2.12 What data should be recorded in the ‘length of programme’ and ‘year of programme’ fields?

These two fields are used to identify:

  • the length of the programme (programme reference 0401A03B Manufacturing and Engineering Level 3, could be a L3 Diploma which is one year in length (so a code of 1 would be used) or an Extended Diploma which is two years in length (so a code of 2 would be used)
  • the year of the programme (if the learner is following a two year extended diploma and are in the second year of the programme, a code of 2 would be used)

2.13 How should resits be recorded?

If a pupil does a whole activity again (i.e. takes the same teaching and learning activity two years in a row) then this activity is recorded again in the second year. This includes one or more timetabled activities (which may include revision classes).

However, if the only thing that the pupil does is sit the same exam again (twice, or more) for any reason, that should not be recorded as a learning activity as part of a Programme.

2.14 How will you ensure that all schools are including all learners in their post-16 return?

All pupils recorded on the January pupil level annual school census (PLASC) for the academic year return should appear on the October post-16 return for the academic year and we will be doing a cross reference to check that this is the case.

2.15 Do Pupil Referral Units need to submit a post-16 return?

No, Pupil Referral Units are not required to submit a post-16 return.