ILPs for a Cost-of-Living Crisis

Posted by Gabriella Walshaw

Further Education is no stranger to austerity, but the extent of the current cost of living crisis has impacted everyone. With learners struggling to stay in education, and staff unable to afford to travel into work, now more than ever colleges need every resource to work for them.  

Getting a ‘temperature check’ 

Traditionally colleges spend a significant amount of money on external surveying to gather learner feedback. With repeatable reviews, and the ability to send push notifications to our student app, the Ontrack ILP allows sites to survey learners throughout the year. You can differentiate these questions based on learner or course factors; you might want to survey learners who are less likely to have support networks more often, or automatically add support staff to these ILPs. Key questions often include whether learners are working, and if so, how many hours per week. It can be useful to ask whether they have contracted hours or are on zero-hour contracts where they’re more vulnerable to a change in circumstances.  

You can also use the ILP to remind learners to review their finances. Younger learners and those new to independent living might need reminding to check bills and direct debits and prepare for increased costs when contracts renew. It’s a good chance to recirculate the key support contacts, prompting learners to seek help before financial issues become overwhelming. 

Questions to ask 

  • Do you know how you’re going to pay your bills next month? 
  • If you suddenly need to pay for something, can you manage that? 
  • Are other people supporting you financially? 
  • Do you feel safe with everyone who is currently supporting you or sharing finances? 
  • Can you manage all the costs of your study, including travel to college or work? 
  • Do you know who to ask for help? 

Don’t forget 

You can use the ILP Manager role to reassign ILPs, or add specific staff to an individual ILP. This can be useful if you need to involve learning support assistants or pastoral staff. With the new Safeguarding module, you can create financial request forms that capture all the key data, while only notifying the appropriate staff. 

Don’t forget you can use the Engage app to share information like job fairs, food banks, fundraising events, and ways to access careers advice. Some of our sites share initiatives like Too Good to Go, Surplus to Purpose, and Olio, encouraging learners to reduce their costs and help reduce food waste. 

Some learners won’t ask for help. Ensuring learners know how to seek help for their peers means a community of support exists for every learner. Ontrack Safeguarding allows you to create a specific out-of-hours email address, so that assigned staff can keep an eye out for urgent messages overnight, without all staff on a distribution list being notified in their own time. You can also create short forms, for learners in distress to quickly reach out for help, and add phone numbers and email addresses to forms in case learners need immediate support. 


To understand how ILPs could help your college tackle financial challenges, get in touch with the Tribal FE team. 


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