Merthyr Tydfil College

Merthyr Tydfil College has seen unprecedented success over recent years, testimony to their vision and values, but continuous improvement is just part of the ethos at the college. So when college leaders and the Student Record team decided the best strategy for their data management was to strive for a single system with all data in one place for all stakeholders, there were certain areas and processes that were seen to cause issues.

When it came to reporting on ILP, pastoral and markbook data, the college was finding data being mismatched or duplicated across the various different systems they were using to measure these aspects of programme delivery. Waiting for data to be cached or replicated in another system meant no-one was looking at truly live information. This was a source of frustration for staff, managers and students alike.

ebs: ontrack – rendering third party systems obsolete

The college already had Tribal’s ebs at the heart of their learner journey and data management, so the introduction of ebs: ontrack meant that they could achieve the aim of a fully-integrated system for all stakeholders. Third party systems covering ILP, pastoral and markbook, were no longer needed and the concept of mismatched data, and the resulting processes or decisions, could be made a thing of the past. So now, when student details are updated in the ILP or through pastoral support, it automatically updates in ebs for all to see.

When it comes to the college’s markbook, Student Record Manager Chris Richards points out,

“It’s a real game-changer, freeing up valuable time for tutors and delivering real efficiencies in how we manage student-level data.”

Until ontrack was introduced, tutors would be responsible for managing and manipulating this data, so they were being bogged down in admin tasks which wasn’t the best use of their skills-set. Ontrack changes how the tutor team operates so they can optimise their time spent with students.

Centralising reporting through a singular, trusted source

As with many college leadership teams, Merthyr Tydfil College Senior Management also wanted reporting to be centralised. In this way everyone can view a single version of the truth based on a single set of data, and all in real time. Giving the Senior Management Team confidence in the data to make informed decisions is a key part of what the Student Record Team does at Merthyr. No longer are individuals creating isolated snapshots of data or performance recorded in different systems; instead the SMT are provided with a live ‘data-pack’ with ebs as the singular trusted source.

The old approach of multiple data sets and reports held in different systems led to ambiguities or even complaints regarding where reports should be obtained from. Chris points out,

“It’s just so much simpler now. Everyone knows where to go, it’s all in a single location, and we’re 100% confident the information is true.”

Handling the volume of reporting required to constantly improve

The introduction of ontrack’s live dashboards has also made a significant difference to how the college handles its huge volume of reporting requirements. Information is visualised in straight-forward, simple to interpret formats based on the user’s role. For some this might mean extended access with the ability to create their own views of the data; for others maybe where they are less regular users it means a standardised view. And when the Principal needs to see the data in one format and Deputy Principal requires something different, they haven’t necessarily got to wait on a Report Writer to produce the desired view. With all types of users it means fewer demands on the Student Record team resource which in turn results in the team being able to focus attentions on developing better practices that help further improve the college.

Preparing for inspection

A case in point and an excellent example of ontrack in action is the development of a bespoke reports pack ahead of inspection. This would previously have taken a great deal of time to write, pulling in data from different systems and relying on manual processes to manipulate the information whilst retaining the data integrity and rigour demanded by the inspection.

Delivering wide-ranging operational efficiencies

The operational efficiencies and improvements in working practices don’t just stop at reporting either. For managers of tutorial support, they no longer have to physically visit all the tutors to see how they are progressing. The centrally-held reports mean managers can easily view progress and, where there is a lack of progress, quickly take any remedial action. And similarly, SMT can also view progress by manager or division, so everyone can be seen to be contributing to the success of the college.

Obtaining the appropriate view of college performance

Improvement is a natural consequence of the visibility of intelligence afforded by ontrack. For the Assistant Principal (AP) of Technology, not being able to see attendance data and the statistical analysis meant that the college’s current position just wasn’t visible. Now that it is available without moving around multiple systems, the AP is able to gain that full view of prior qualifications, attendance and learner progress which in turn means valid improvement targets can be set to continually improve college performance.

Improvement in student experience though better student-college communications is also an anticipated outcome for Chris.

“Without ebs:ontrack, I doubt we would be able to cope with all the demands, where ‘more-for-less’ is almost a given in today’s FE landscape,” 

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