A letter from the Education
& Training Foundation, Association of Colleges and University College
Union re: A new collaborative approach to simplify workforce data collection
in Further Education.
It is a key priority for all organisations in
the further education sector to ensure that the highest quality and most
uniform workforce data is available to help us understand the composition and
structure of our workforce. Credible and consistent data on FE staffing is
essential if we are to respond to the current challenges the sector faces, and
is necessary to ensure that we can continue to provide high quality education
for future learners.
Currently there are several separate data
collection exercises undertaken across the FE sector each year which all
attempt to measure very similar things, resulting in a number of different
datasets with varying levels of completeness. Each year:
- Education and Training Foundation
(ETF) asks all providers, including colleges, to complete the Staff
Individualised Record through SIR Data Insights;
- The University and College Union
(UCU) submits an annual freedom of information request (FOI request) on
staff contracts and pay; and
- The Association of Colleges (AoC)
conducts an annual workforce survey.
All three organisations have a shared interest in ensuring that
the further education sector has the best and most reliable data possible and
agree that it would be preferable for all FE stakeholders to have access to
this information collected from a single, reliable source.
Therefore, we jointly propose the collection of
a single dataset of reliable and robust data on staff numbers, pay and terms
and conditions in the FE sector. It is proposed that the collection of
this data occurs through the SIR Data Insights, and is shared with UCU and AoC.
Our ambition is that this data collection will replace separate annual Freedom
of Information requests and workforce data surveys. So colleges will have one
return to complete, and it will be used by all three organisations – ETF, AoC
Colleges can individually choose to participate
in this consolidated data collection exercise. Below are the key details
to help inform your decision.
What does this mean for my college?
If you complete your annual workforce data
return through SIR Data Insights and agree to share your data at provider level
with UCU and AoC, you will receive a short survey from UCU instead of a full
FOI request. Your data on staff numbers and pay will be shared with UCU and AoC
following the closure of the SIR Data Insights collection window at the end of
October. You can see a sample of the data report sent to UCU and AoC based on your SIR data return here:
Sample data sharing report from a provider
If you don’t complete your annual workforce
data return through SIR Data Insights or don’t agree to share your data, you
will receive a UCU FOI request as normal.
How does this benefit colleges?
Colleges that agree to data sharing are saved
the administrative burden of having to complete UCU’s freedom of information
request each year in addition to completing the workforce data return through
SIR Data Insights. It will also increase the robustness of staffing data
available to colleges for benchmarking and planning purposes.
When will this happen?
From now. Our aim is to start data collection
from 1 August, and to have the data reports available in November.
What about data protection?
All data provided to UCU and AoC will strictly
adhere to the limits of the Data Protection Act 1998 (now GDPR) and no individual staff
member will be identifiable. Any information provided by the ETF to UCU will be
at provider level and in the same format as that collected by UCU through their
annual FOI request.As outlined above, the purpose of this data sharing
arrangement is to try to lessen the data collection burden for colleges caused
by several separate data collection exercises each year, and to encourage a
strengthening of staff data across the whole FE sector through the development
of a robust single sector wide dataset.
What about next year?
Our intention is to fully replace the entire UCU
FOI request and AoC workforce survey through a provider-level survey agreed by
all three organisations to be completed as part of the workforce data return on
SIR Data Insights. This would mean colleges would have only one return to
complete, and data would be shared across all organisations. It would hopefully
provide the sector with more robust and complete workforce data, and all
organisations would use the same, transparent data set.
How do I opt in?
You can indicate that you would like your
college to participate in the data sharing arrangement between ETF, AoC and UCU
by following this link or
when you log in to SIR Data Insights: https://www.sirdatainsights.org.uk/.
You can edit your agreement at any time on your Provider Page.
If you have any queries about the planned data
sharing arrangement please contact Charlynne Pullen at the ETF
on Charlynne.email@example.com, Jonathon Guy at UCU on JGuy@UCU.ORG.UK or Caroline Rowlands
at AoC on firstname.lastname@example.org .