Headlines: December 8th, 2017

With a focus on broadening opportunities for learners across the region, East Riding of Yorkshire Council delivers teaching, learning and assessment from four sites covering a wide geographical area. Jayne Wilcock, curriculum and data manager, explains how the council uses data to meet learners’ needs.

To make a real difference to people’s lives, organisations delivering education and skills in local communities increasingly need to focus their resources on ensuring people get the opportunity to study the right courses, in the right places to maximise learning outcomes.

We provide residents from 16+ with access to high-quality teaching, learning and assessment opportunities. This includes individual support to help build confidence, promote wellbeing and enhance skills development to ultimately boost the career prospects of learners across the region. We can welcome up to 1,000 learners at any one time.
With a large catchment area and a wide range of courses on offer, learners often travel long distances to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. So, we use technology to help us ensure courses are having the desired impact.

Forging successful learning pathways

The first step to learner success is making sure individuals are on the most appropriate courses and a key part of this is allowing them the option to apply online for their course.

As an adult and community learning provider, our aim is to be responsive to local need and as a result, our course offerings can be updated frequently. An online portal allows us the flexibility to do this quickly and efficiently.
Paper based course information is expensive to produce and distribute and impossible to update and change without incurring further costs. By moving the enrolment *process online, we can get new information to prospective learners in a cost effective, efficient way.

Individuals can browse course options, make enquiries, book and pay online. We’ve also found we can often engage with them before they have even enrolled on their course, something which didn’t happen before.

The technology links the learner through to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council website – we use the UNIT-e management information system (MIS) from Capita. Here they can find more information about financial support options and learning assistance available in the classroom. They could also see information such as what qualifications and skills an individual might need to get the most from a Level 2 counselling course or guidance which computing course level would be most appropriate for them, to help them make their choice.

The ability to communicate quickly and easily with learners online improves the support they receive. But technology can increase the chances of them completing their courses too.
Engaged learners stay on course

With learners across four sites, it was previously difficult to spot if there was a high rate of absence on a specific course, which can be an early indicator that an individual or group might be struggling with their learning. If left unchecked, this can lead to withdrawals that might potentially be avoided, with the right support in place.

Moving from paper-based registration process to recording attendance electronically in UNIT-e has made it easier to identify falling attendance rates earlier so that we can intervene sooner and provide the support needed to keep learners on track to completing their course. This has helped us reduce the percentage of learners who drop out – during the 2016-17 academic year, retention was boosted by 4% points on the previous academic year and we achieved a 6%-point rise over a three-year period. Our overall achievement rates also rose by 4% points in the same three-year period.

A fresh mindset

Business intelligence has given us a fresh mind-set to fine-tune our provision and the way we support learners and staff. We have simplified the day to day learner management processes too, which has reduced administration and provided our teaching staff with more hours in the day to do what they do best, teach.

Being able to make more informed decisions on what courses should be delivered where, coupled with our ability to provide support sooner, means an all-round improved experience for our learners and an expanded scope of opportunities for employment and career development across the community served by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Jayne Wilcock is curriculum and data manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, who use the UNIT-e management information system from Capita’s further and higher education business.