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Introducing our Social Impact Report 2022
For many people, the start of spring marks a time for new beginnings, reflection and growth. This certainly rings true to me, and as such, it feels like the perfect time to announce that today marks an exciting day for us as we launch our Social Impact Report 2022 – the first of its kind in NCFE’s 175-year history. But, before inviting you to jump into the report and begin exploring its content, I’d firstly like to provide you with a brief introduction as to why it’s important to us to measure our impact, an overview of the process that we went through, and a look at some of the key findings.
Why measure our impact now?
NCFE was born in 1848 from the belief that no learner should be left behind. We also believe that through shaping smarter learning, we can empower a fairer society, facilitate excellent learning experiences, create opportunities to progress and change lives for the better. This means helping more individuals to realise their true potential – in turn delivering sustainable communities. But with all this in mind, we stopped to ask ourselves this: how can we be certain that our actions are having the intended impact?
To answer this question, we need to ensure that we have a deep and sustained understanding of our beneficiaries, their context, their opportunities, their challenges, and their experiences of working with NCFE. It’s this need that drove us to commission an impact study and take real, constructive action from the results.
We partnered with Motif – an independent research agency – to design a Theory of Change model to help us understand our impact at each level, engaging key stakeholders to measure our performance against these impacts. The model will support us to reflect, improve, and progress towards our ambitious goals as an educational charity and leader in vocational and technical learning.
Of course, in the eighteen months since we decided to define and measure our impact on learners, education providers and society more generally, much has changed in the world. We don’t want to stand still so as is fitting, the report doesn’t just outline our activities and achievements – but also the areas in which we can improve as we strive to make the greatest possible positive difference.
What impact have we had?
Motif’s research showed the impact our stakeholders feel we’re having. We’re pleased to report that:
- We’re seen as strong in ensuring good learning and progression opportunities. Learners are able to move seamlessly between levels and we are seen as a support to reaching career goals.
- Institutions and Educators see us as outstanding at tackling disadvantage and improving employment prospects through our qualifications.
- We’re a respected voice in the education sector with providers acknowledging our influence and contribution to the education debate.
- Providers also believed our impact was far reaching, not only impacting learners’ lives, but also the beneficiaries of learners’ newly developed skills.
Alongside these observations, we’re also proud to have been able to drive social impact. Our pioneering £1m Assessment Innovation Fund is helping to launch exciting pilot projects that we hope will ultimately help to revolutionise assessment. We’ve also invested in Good for ME Good for FE, which has generated over £2m of social value so far, as well as launching our Think Further and Research Further initiatives in partnership with the Association of Colleges, to harness insight and provide a platform for thought leadership in FE.
What happens next and what improvements will we be putting in place?
I look forward to receiving feedback on the report and its findings – including additional ways in which we can measure the impact that we’re having. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our fantastic colleagues, customers and partners and ask that they take a moment to acknowledge the collective impact – as outlined in this report – that they make through their dedication to learner outcomes each day.
In terms of our next steps, this study has helped us to identify key activities to improve outcomes and impacts as we move towards our 2024 strategic goals, which can be found in the ‘Building on our foundations’ section of the report. This includes ensuring that our product offer supports learners to seamlessly progress through their chosen pathways, elevating resource content and using different technologies to encourage inspiring delivery.
Education should be the great leveller and we’re on a journey to maximise our contribution – developing deep insight that will help us to do this.
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