§ Mr. Willis
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what methodology his Department uses to calculate the numbers of students studying for A2 and AS examinations. 
§ Mr. Miliband
[holding answer 12 May 2003]: The numbers of students studying for A2 and AS examinations are collected through the Department's Annual Schools Census (ASC) and the Learning and Skills Council's Individualised Learner Record (ILR). The ASC information is a snapshot as at the third Thursday in January of each year. The ILR is a snapshot as at 1 November of each year
In both these data sources, information is collected on all the qualifications a student is studying for. However students often combine qualifications. In the departmental publication on the participation of 16–18 year olds, the figures are calculated on the basis of the highest qualification being studied. Part of this hierarchy of highest qualification is:
- Higher education
- VCE A/AS level
- GCE A/AS level
So, for example, someone studying for a GCE AS level alongside a Double Award VCE would be considered as having the VCE as their highest aim.
The department also collects and publishes details of the number of A and AS level course enrolments by adults on course offered by Local Education Authorities.