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Calling all FE Teachers and Leaders, DfE want to hear your views

13th October 2022

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The Department for Education is issuing an open invitation to leaders and all teachers from colleges in England to join the School and College Panel survey. The School and College Panel Survey is open to teachers and leaders from colleges that teach 16 to 19-year-olds.

Everyone in the FE sector knows that colleges perform a hugely important social and economic role not only for the communities they serve but the whole country. Capturing the voice of those who work in FE and feeding that into educational policy making is vital.

“The DfE School and College Panel Omnibus Survey is a great opportunity for college leaders to provide feedback and inform key policy decision making.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive, AoC

What is the School and College Panel?

Launched in November 2021 the School and College Panel survey, delivered in partnership with IFF Research, enables rapid and robust data gathering. The online surveys are released once or twice a term.

Recognising the busy working lives of college leaders and teachers, the surveys are specifically designed to be quick and easy for panel members to answer, requiring no more than 4-7 minutes to complete and nothing more than the information that is known off the top of the head.

Janet Gardner, Principal and CEO of Waltham Forest College has contributed to the survey for around a year and confirms that the School and College Panel is a “valuable tool to ensure the FE sectors voice is heard and helps to inform future policy.”

Janet Gardner

Why does the Panel need more members?

Every FE teacher and leader that participates in the School and College Panel provides valuable insight and experience. It is important the survey captures a broad view from as many college leaders and teachers as possible.

In the first year of the Panel, 91 leaders and 206 teachers from colleges across England joined the panel and we are delighted that they continue to be a part of the panel for the 2022/23 academic year. But are also keen to build on these numbers and aim to build a survey panel that captures not only the diversity of workforce but the communities our colleges serve. The larger and more diverse the panel, the more representative and robust the survey findings.

Paul Kett

“We want many more college leaders and teachers to take part in the survey. The Department [for Education] can then check regularly whether we have the right support structures to help college prosper”

Paul Kett, Director General Skills Group, Department for Education.

What topics does the survey cover?

The Panel exists to ensure DfE can gain an accurate understanding of the experience of colleges and their staff on a broad range of educational issues. In the 2021/22 surveys college leaders and teachers shared their insight into topics as varied as:

  • Curriculum and qualifications.
  • COVID specific topics from educational recovery, face coverings through to the experience of remote education.
  • Mental health and wellbeing of both learners and staff.
  • Professional development.
  • The impact of cost-of-living increases on learners, staff and the college institution.

Occasionally panel members are invited to join focus groups or contribute to more detailed research on specific topics. As with membership on the main School and College Panel, participation is always voluntary, but such invitations provide an opportunity for education professionals to explore issues in which they have interest and valuable expertise in greater depth.

What happens with the data?

Good data governance is vital and the School and College panel adheres to all data protection legislation. The insight panel members share is strictly confidential, no individual or school is identifiable. The collective voice of college leaders and teachers is formed from the aggregated data and this evidence helps to inform policy decision-making and to monitor the impact of existing policies. The School and College Panel research has impact beyond the Department for Education. We aim to publish summary survey findings on gov.uk, which means that not only can panel members read the report, but so too can other parties from academics to journalists who have an interest in understanding the voice of FE colleges.

You can read some of our historical findings here: School and college panel: omnibus surveys for 2021 to 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

“We really hope that you will opt in, add your voice to the survey and to help us feed that back into the Department’s policy making”

Matt Mawer, Principal Analyst, Omnibus Surveys, Department for Education.

Matt Mawer

You can hear more about the School and College Panel in this 3 minute video.

Register your interest in becoming a member of the School and College Panel by clicking here.