A protocol agreement signed by stakeholder organisations gives the board the authority to deliver reforms to further education data.
The Protocol - its development and stages
1. By signing this protocol, we are committing to the FE data reform objectives and to working together to deliver them.
2. We support the development of data, collection and reporting standards across the FE system and we support the development of a process for agreeing those standards. The detail of the scope, process and the standards themselves are still being developed. So, naturally, we cannot yet sign up to those.
Commitment to the objectives
3. By signing this protocol, we are committing to reform by balancing the burden on learning providers of data collection and reporting while ensuring that providers and data users have the most useful information about learners and learning and about the performance of learning providers.
4. We are committing to:
- Improving the quality and use of information in support of effective decision making by all stakeholders in the sector.
- Significantly reducing bureaucracy across the FE system to release time, resources and energy for the front line services.
- Improving accountability to learners, learning providers and data users for data standards, collections and reporting.
Commitment to working together to deliver the objectives
5. We are committing to working together with all FE system stakeholders to deliver these objectives.
6. By signing this protocol, we are committing to:
- Reducing the quantity and variation of different data requests to learning providers by working through an independently-chaired FE information authority as a single gatekeeper for setting information, collection and reporting standards.
- Abide by a set of data standards, collections and reporting standards collectively negotiated and resolved with and through the information authority - to the wider benefit of the sector.
- Championing the information authority principles to ensure that use of data is maximised and burden minimised
7. By signing this protocol, we are using it to establish the authority of the information authority. DfES Ministers have asked the sector to work together to reform FE data. That Ministerial remit, the appointment of an independent Chair to the information authority board and our agreement to this protocol give the information authority the authority to deliver reforms to data systems.
8. The information authority must work within existing standards and structures. These include Office for National Statistics (ONS), the DfES Information Standards Board (ISB), the managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) programme (notably the Common Data Definitions component) and the Schools Star Chamber. The information authority must also recognise the reciprocal arrangements governing FE in HE and HE in FE.
What we expect from the information authority and the reforms
9. In return for committing to the objectives, and to working together under the information authority, we expect the Chair, board and secretariat to:
- Take our requirements seriously - recognising the independence and different missions of signatory organisations and other stakeholders. Deliver transparent criteria and processes for assessing and balancing data requests.
- Recognise the core of information required by an effective learning provider for their own management.
- Make sure we have better data - more frequent, more up-to-date, more accurate, more relevant, more responsive, more consistent, more complete.
- Ensure we still have access to data - raw detailed individual level data to develop and pilot new algorithms, methodologies and measures. These developments and flexible analyses must be encourage and flourish. What we are committing to is consulting and agreeing these within the information authority before they go live.
- Deliver the reforms - demonstrate and prove that requirements are being met from new arrangements before old collections and reports are switched off.
- Defend and represent the wider interested of the sector, not just the interests of their own organisations. Stakeholder views must be heard and decisions must be transparent.
- Publish standards, make them readily available and encourage their use.
- Give stakeholders early warning of any plans or initiatives that may impact on data standards, collections and reports.
10. As signatories, we are emphasising that agreement on the algorithms, derivations and methodologies for producing performance and quality measures is the most important issue. Such agreement (and publicising and promoting them) would mean that the burden of reconciling and validating performance and quality measures in reports would be significantly reduced. If that issue is addressed, it matters less who collects and reports on the data.
Commending the information authority approach
11. There are a wide range of FE system stakeholders - including the learning providers and learners themselves. Practically, not all stakeholders can be signatories to this protocol. However, as signatories, we are commending the information authority approach to all FE system stakeholders - and asking them to work with the information authority on information, collection and reporting standards with the objective of reforming FE data, maximising and minimising burden.