Case Study

Pembrokeshire College: Using real-time data to make better decisions


Pembrokeshire College is the county’s largest provider of post-16 education and training. Situated in a modern, purpose-built campus in Haverfordwest, it attracts approximately 2,000 full-time and 12,500 part-time students a year. 

The college offers young people and adults a wide range of courses including A-levels, diplomas, apprenticeships, degrees, part-time evening classes and professional qualifications. It is also the lead provider for the B-WBL consortium delivering across 23 apprenticeship sectors and traineeship programmes in 17 local authorities across Wales. 

To support this extensive and complex provision, Tribal has been providing Pembrokeshire College with student management systems since 1999. As part of this, the college uses the Business Intelligence module to ensure decisions are based on the best possible, real-time data, helping to drive cost reductions, improve productivity, identify potential risks and make quick interventions.

Prior to installing Business Intelligence, all reporting in the college was done using a mixture of Excel, SSRS and MS Access, often resulting in handwritten individual reports that quickly became out of date. Due to the fractured nature of delivery, there were often several copies of the same report circulating thus leading to a lack of trust in the data.

Martin Watts, Senior Data Analyst at Pembrokeshire College says:

“With learners, at the start of term in particular, it is important to be able to highlight quickly any issues around attendance which may lead to them dropping out. This was not easily produced and was maintained using several systems, relying heavily on human intervention”.

Having up to date reports at a single point of contact has led to several fundamental changes in how staff consume and use data. It has also led to a change in how that data is generated. Staff no longer rely on morning refreshes using Access databases, they simply open a dashboard and see only the data relevant to them, without multiple clicks. Managers can see how their areas are performing and Quality and Support teams can view College wide statistics. For example:

Student numbers and applications
Applications and enrolments are continuously monitored to ensure resources are spent in the right areas at the right time. This data also helps to balance funding routes to optimise income levels.

Space utilisation report
Room usage is monitored to ensure classrooms are used as efficiently as possible and to identify any clashes with timetabling. During a recent new build, it was also used to inform the size and types of rooms required.

Used to track learners who have poor attendance, this report shows data by learner and class to identify possible issues and instigate early intervention to improve retention.

Martin continues,

“Though students do not directly access the Dashboard, how they are progressing on their course, both academically and personally is monitored by a range of teams to ensure that they are receiving the best care and support at exactly the right time to enable them to have a successful time in college”.


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