#LoveOurCollegeStaff: MIS and student support, the back-office heroes

Posted by Carla Martinho

So, what do you do?” The question I dread being asked at social events because (outside of education) no one knows about funding data. Let’s face it, to most people data is dull!

But data isn’t just information, it can tell stories about people (ask Cambridge Analytica and Facebook).

In the years that I’ve been working with learner data, I have seen most of humanity illustrated in that data.

The breaks in learning that break your heart: the learners who take time out because of a serious illness or accident, or to support their partner or dependants through the same. At the other end of the spectrum, maternity, paternity, or adoption leave.

Changes of personal details can be just as fascinating: learners who change their details because their life has changed. Name changes because of marriage, gender change or shedding a past they no longer want to carry around; learners who change their declared ethnicity because they have had a shift in perspective on what their identity means to them.

I’ve also known several learners who have changed their declared learning difficulty or level of prior learning because they were too embarrassed to be truthful at enrolment – or they were too creative on their CV when applying for an apprenticeship!

In recent times learner data tells the story of the impact of Covid-19, with colleges working to close the gap in learning that is the legacy of lockdown. Delivering more hours, more flexibly, across multiple funding streams.

The best story is always learner achievements: our team let out a cheer when a test-phobic learner passed her level 2 maths at the fourth attempt. Tracking progression, destinations and outcomes for learners through funding claims I see every day the impact that learning providers have in changing people’s lives. Working with front line staff who support learners I see how their dedication and patience helps learners to overcome barriers in to learning – starting with the first hurdle of filling out that enrolment form.

That’s why I #LoveOurColleges and all the people who work at colleges supporting learners through everything life throws at them.

And why the next time I meet someone at a sector event who says they “….just do data admin” I’ll remind them that they are changing lives – and telling those stories.

Just as data can tell stories about individual learners, it also speaks volumes to Ofsted inspectors and ESFA auditors about your organisation before they even set foot on site.

Looking to transform the way you use your data? You can find out more about how Tribal's Data Management Services Team can help you here.


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