Study Supporters

An ETF funded OTLA Digital project

Together we can do anything.

What we are doing and why.

Our project is designed to explore the impact of ‘digital home study support’ on the confidence and performance of learners on our English and maths programmes. We are working as a partnership, Newcastle College, Carlisle College and NOVUS, with each of us all bringing a different perspective to the project.

As we all know, achievement on maths and English programmes is improving but still lags behind performance on vocational elements of programmes of study, which in turn impacts significantly on progression opportunities for a significant number of learners in our region and nationally. A great deal of time and effort has gone into identifying and implementing strategies which improve engagement and enhance the quality of the learning experience however, we still find that learners are reluctant to take responsibility for their learning and continue with their studies at home. With this in mind, we decided to explore ways of engaging parents and carers in an effort to take learning beyond the classroom.

Our project aims to:

1. Improve learner engagement, retention and performance on English and maths programmes by working more closely with their parents/carers or other designated supporters.

2. Identify successful ‘parental’ engagement strategies employed within our own organisations and findings from current sector research in order to launch the ‘study support’ programme.

3. Set up a digital platform designed to encourage ‘parents /carers etc’ to support their charges as they prepare for their English and maths exams.

4. Develop a training programme which provides these ‘parents/carers’ with the skills and resources needed to sign post or act as ‘Study Supporters’.

5. Monitor the frequency and quality of engagement through the digital platform, encourage feedback from all parties and share findings from this research with the sector.

Big picture

How we intend to go about it...

We've planned to approach the project in 2 stages and have made good progress so far.

Stage 1

  • We've spent some time reviewing current research to help us identify the variables which need to be considered when setting up and measuring what we have learnt e.g. the difference between involvement and engagement and potential barriers to ‘parental’ support.
  • We've identified some of the more successful ‘parental’ engagement strategies that we've used in our own organisations. However, we'd love to hear from any colleagues who'd like to share strategies that have worked for them.
  • Two staff are already trialling the use of Instagram but we intend to explore other social media tools to make sure that we maximise contact with both our learners and supporters.
  • We've also developed a training programme for the supporters but haven't managed to trial it as yet. However, we will be starting to populate the digital platform this month.

Stage 2

  • Promote project to possible participants during IAG and summer recruitment.
  • Launch training for supporters in how to signpost and use platform/ other tools to monitor learner progress.
  • Provide additional training for supporters less comfortable with aspects of English and maths.
  • Monitor project throughout and share what we've found.
Big picture

Our hopes for the project...

Initial research indicates that it is widely recognised that parental involvement/ engagement can impact on learner motivation, aspirations and achievement.

We’d love to be able to show that:

  • Learners are getting better grades.
  • Learners feel more confident in their skills and their ability to work independently.
  • Learners enjoy their classes more and turn up not off.
  • Maths and English can be 'cool' using latest digital technologies.
  • Supporters have gained confidence and enjoyed the experience.
  • Staff have enjoyed using the latest digital technologies.

We'd also love to hear from anyone who has any suggestions for us or may be interested in collaborating.

A chance to share our hopes for the project

Helen Scanlan, project lead, takes the opportunity to outline what we are trying accomplish on the project.