Early identification and support of learners at risk of disengaging

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Grŵp Llandrillo Menai makes effective use of an early identification tool to identify and support learners at risk of leaving a course before completion.

Number of learners: 21,000
Age range: 16+
Date of inspection: February 2017

Brief contextual information about provider/partnership:

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai is a further education (FE) college formed in 2012 through mergers between Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Coleg Menai.  The Grŵp has approximately 21,000 learners, of whom 6,000 study full time programmes delivered on 13 campuses across the counties of Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd.

Context and background to excellent/sector-leading practice:

The college makes effective use of its early identification tool (EIT) to identify learners at risk of leaving a course before completion.  Learners identified as ’at risk’ benefit from the provision of robust and extensive support delivered by both specialist college services and strong, embedded partnership with external agencies.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s learner services identified an increasing demand for additional support required and accessed by learners.  In 2014, 578 learners were identified at being at risk of withdrawing from their programme due to external barriers.  A lack of resilience to cope with welfare difficulties was having an adverse effect on attendance and their ability to keep on track with their learning.

In response to the advent of the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai worked in partnership with the Engagement and Progression Coordinators of the six north Wales local authorities to develop information sharing protocols to further strengthen transition support for learners identified as at risk of disengaging. 

Information regarding the learners at risk of disengaging from their college programme was analysed to produce the eligibility criteria profile of the EIT diagnostic tool.

The EIT was subsequently adopted by TRAC 11-24, a north Wales EU-funded project, as the intervention model to be used by post-16 providers.   Students eligible to participate in the TRAC project receive additional intensive personalised welfare support from a dedicated TRAC mentor.

Description of nature of strategy or activity identified as excellent/sector-leading practice

The EIT diagnostic tool is used to identify which learners are most likely to leave their programme early.   The EIT provides a score for each learner based upon attendance, wellbeing, behaviour, career aspiration and basic skills level data.  The eligibility criteria factors are weighted.

The EIT is run for every full time FE learner at the beginning of each term.  The EIT diagnostic draws upon the datasets contained within the college management information systems and automatically populates the weightings to calculate the score.  The top 8% of profiled learners are reviewed.  Professional judgement is always taken into account when considering the most appropriate intensive and personalised support required.  Distance-travelled markers are integrated into the EIT diagnostic tool to demonstrate value added.  Ten weeks after the initial referral for additional welfare intervention and support, the EIT is recalculated to help identify evidence of improvement.  The EIT is subsequently run every ten weeks that a learner receives additional support.

With the introduction of the ‘85%+’ attendance project, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has further developed and integrated the EIT with existing college welfare referral routes to access support.  Monitoring of learner engagement takes place during the learner at risk panel meetings chaired by the director of learner services and attended by the appropriate assistant principal, programme area manager and welfare support staff. 

Support action plans are fully integrated into the Grŵp’s quality framework.  Personal tutors access action plans via the learner portal, eDRAC, while managers review and monitor performance indicators by area, course and learner via the portal’s dashboard.

What impact has this work had on the quality of provision and learners’ standards?

The EIT diagnostic calculates a score and measures distance travelled for a set of criteria that include: attendance, level of basic skills attained, behaviour and career aspirations.  Of the learners that were eligible to receive TRAC mentor support that participated in the first year of the project, 88% achieved an improvement of 10% in their EIT Score.

Ninety-one per cent of the learners identified as being at risk of disengaging completed their programme of study.  Of those who completed their course, 90% achieved their qualification.  The nine per cent who did not complete the academic year returned to college the following year to either complete the programme or to enrol on another at the same level. 

Links: www.gllm.ac.uk