Consultancy support on the staff individualised record (SIR) project for the Education and Training Foundation

14/06/18

Sheaf Digital has particular expertise in the education and training sectors. We’ve worked on several big e-learning projects, have designed and developed bespoke learning management systems and from time to time we deliver focused technical consultancy support to clients in the education sector.

We’ve just finished a piece of software/technical consultancy for the Education and Training Foundation. The Foundation is responsible for the annual collection of staff individualised record (SIR) data from English FE colleges. The data - anonymised information about FE staff pay, qualifications and contracted hours - is used by the Foundation and the Department for Education to better understand the FE workforce.

Submission of SIR data by FE colleges is voluntary. Most of the data comes from college HR systems but some of it can be in other IT systems in the college or even on paper in a filing cabinet. There’s a technical data specification document that describes what should be submitted and the format of the SIR upload file.

Our brief was to contact the FE colleges that made last year’s submission together with their HR system vendors and get feedback on the SIR upload process - the effort involved and the technical challenges. A key aim was to engage with HR systems vendors and find out more about how they support the SIR file upload within their software.

This consultancy project is a good example of how Sheaf Digital can bridge the gap between technical and non-technical stakeholders on a project. We understood the technical issues faced by HR system vendors while at the same time we could talk to busy FE college HR staff about the administrative challenges they faced in gathering together data from different sources, organising it into the right format and then uploading it as a single file into the SIR data collection system.

We spoke to over 30 colleges and all the big FE college HR system vendors and the Foundation now has a clear picture of what happens in a typical FE college HR department when the SIR upload window is open. Our final report gathered together feedback and made several recommendations that should improve the kind of technical advice given to colleges during the upload window and, we think, encourage more colleges to make the submission in 2018.