As part of our work to champion social mobility in the further education and skills sector, the Foundation supports staff at Skills and Education Group member organisations who want to put their research ideas into practice. Launched in the 2021/22 academic year, the Staff Research Projects grants are designed to support projects that offer new approaches to widening participation and increasing social inclusion.
The Transition Toolkit is a website that gives learners from schools, and those not in education, employment or training (NEET), all the information they need to make a strong start at college.
Read on to find out more about this research project.
Transition points can be challenging for students and the transition from school to college is a significant one. For some it represents a ‘fresh start’ after school, however with this fresh start come difficulties in terms of offering timely support to students when they join. The college receives very little information from schools, so spends an inordinate amount of time managing barriers to learning and logistical challenges that could have been planned for and resolved prior to enrolment.
This project was an initial attempt to address this issue by creating an accessible, multimodal transition toolkit that supports new students prior to their first day and throughout their early weeks of study, hopefully leading to a more positive student experience and a lower workload burden for staff.
The project team used primary research methods with staff colleagues as participants to identify a wide range of views, knowledge and experiences of student transition. In particular, online questionnaires and follow-up focus groups were used to enable those on the front line to articulate the problems they faced and what would be helpful for them to know prior to a student joining their programmes. From this basis, a task and finish group analysed staff comments and developed a web platform that addressed their concerns.
“This project was an initial attempt to address this issue [transitioning from school] by creating an accessible, multimodal transition toolkit that supports new students prior to their first day and throughout their early weeks of enrolment.”
There has been a recognition that the bulk of transition work needs to be on “how” you attend college rather than on getting learners ready for course content.
As part of this, there has been a recognition that colleges need to work more closely with schools, parents and carers to better prepare learners.
Despite college efforts, some learners are reluctant to acknowledge a need for a supported transition and want to be independent. This demand for independence can lessen after the first term; once trust has been built with staff, students are more willing to access support. The project team continues to pursue ways of pitching transitional support that don’t leave the learner feeling child-like, helpless and reluctant to engage at the outset.
The web resource developed through this project has been live and operating throughout the start of the new term. The project team will continue to build and refine it based on user experience.
Findings from focus groups and follow-up interviews will continue to be analysed with possible follow-ups being scheduled with staff who have been transitioning new learners during the enrolment period.
Outreach to local schools and work with local authorities will continue to ensure that everyone involved in the learner’s arrival at college will be as informed as possible with the ultimate aim of ensuring retention and success for the learner.
“The web resource developed through this project has been live and operating throughout the start of the new term. The project team will continue to build and refine it based on user experience.”
Would you like to find out more?
For further information about the Skills and Education Group Foundation and our funding opportunities, please contact Joe Mcloughlin, Foundation and External Affairs Manager, at email@example.com or on 07706335271.
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