Update on Managing Information Across Partners programme (MIAP)

Tim Barrett, a consultant for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) kindly provided my colleagues, Peter Rees Jones and Clive Church a review of the progress of MIAP inspired initiatives that support Becta’s (and the government’s) aim to enable students to access ‘information on their personal learning path and their progress’.

Clive, in turn, kindly provided the following update…

The key to all of these initiatives is the unique learner number (ULN). Contrary to other reports there are no issues with the allocation. From other contacts I am aware that college MIS managers are already accommodating this within their systems. All post 19 FE students will be allocated a ULN from September as will 14+ aged students registering for the new Diplomas. The intention is that these numbers will be eventually allocated to all children when they start school.

First, let’s consider the recording of student progress. The recording of students’ achievements for both the components of the Diploma and LSC funded vocational qualifications will be available (subject to final government approval) from September. The record for each student (the Learner Achievement Record) is likely to contain their Unique Learner Number plus for each qualification achieved an identifier for the Learning Provider, the Qualification Code and the date of the award.

Learning Provider identifiers will be available from the UK Register of Learning Providers and the Qualification Code will be obtained from the Qualification and Credit Framework database held by the Qualification and Credit Authority (QCA). The details of the qualifications including grades will be held by awarding bodies. The data definitions for these will be co-ordinated by the QCA.

The central Learner Achievement Records data will be updated from the annual returns (ISR) that are submitted annually to the Learning and Skills Council from colleges and schools. Awarding bodies will have the full details of qualifications achieved from their assessment processes (and somewhat earlier). For the Diploma, the QCA sponsored Minerva system will apply rules of combination to determine whether a student has the necessary components (which may be awarded by different exam boards) of the qualification necessary for an ‘award’ and the grade.

This distinction of roles between MIAP co-ordinated databases and the partners in the use and provision of the data is important. Central databases provide a useful summary and links but it is up to other agencies such as QCA and, with respect to the above application, the Minerva system to provide appropriate additional data and services.

SOAP based web services can be accommodated by MIAP to support external applications. There is assurance that students have to approve the release of their data to external agencies and companies providing any additional services.

Another possible application example could consider authentication of qualifications. Central databases would provide a summary of qualifications but it would be up to the awarding bodies to provide through additional services any necessary authentication and specific details such as units studied.

Secondly, let’s consider the information ‘to support the provision of a personal learning path’. MIAP is prepared to include in addition to achievement keys, links to individuals aspirations and goals that are obtained from the tutorial/ Individual Learning Plan processes within schools and colleges.

Such data will be the hub of systems (both public and private) that supports the provision of Information and Guidance. For example Connexions can develop services that use the learning achievement and aspiration data with the 14-19 prospectus information via the UK Register of learning Provider to institutional offerings to provide necessary guidance.

It is important to recognise that MIAP is a provider through the Unique Learner Number and data keys of links to provision, achievement and aspiration data. The population of the system is down to government policy (some decisions pending) and the contribution of other agencies. For example will individual universities sign up in order to ensure that Learner Achievements recorded through a student’s school and college life will be updated by HE based qualification?
When will the Scots join the Welsh and Northern Irish in becoming full partners?

It is this ability to provide the links to an individual’s educational data that is so important. The stimulation to services both public and private that can support the student in achieving both educational and employment goals is in many ways, revolutionary….and a real opportunity.

The MIAP website can be viewed at http://www.miap.gov.uk/