Further Education Project 2015/16

Launch of Pathways to Partnership for Further Education

Welsh Government Funded – December 2015

Background to the project

FE Project 2010-2013

To support the launch of the Learner Involvement Strategy Guidance from Welsh Government in 2010, National Union of Students (NUS) Wales delivered a three-year FE Project within Wales. This was funded by the Welsh Government to support institutions to embed this guidance. This involved supporting development of learner voice structures including course representative systems, student councils, students’ unions and development and training of student governors. The project also created the Learner Voice Practitioners Network for Wales which brings together staff with responsibility for learner voice to share good practice, network and run relevant training sessions. This was the first UK network of its kind.

The project ended in 2013, and there has since been cross-sector recognition that there is no national framework to support colleges with progression of learner voice and learner involvement strategies and to support parity of experience of learners across Wales.

Project Activity

The new Pathways to Partnership for FE project is being funded by Welsh Government and aims to help create a national structure to further support learner voice within Welsh institutions.

It is being carried out by the Wise Wales project for student partnership, supported by NUS Wales. It will be focussed on supporting colleges within Wales with self-assessment of learner involvement activities with a sector-wide development toolkit.

The project will be carried out in two stages:

First stage – Self assessment toolkit

  • A student partnership consultant will visit all colleges to support the self-assessment of learner involvement activities. The focus will be on current internal processes, quality cycles, and feedback mechanisms to provide key themes for improvement. These could include: course representatives, surveys, student council/students’ union, online feedback systems, and other feedback mechanisms such as complaint systems.
  • A lead in document will be sent beforehand to support the visit; including who will need to be present and what documents they will need. It will involve meeting with the lead for learner voice and student representatives. The project is designed to be mindful of busy schedules and seeks to avoid burdening colleges with extra work.

Second stage – Tailored support

  • The second stage of the project will centre on working with up to 8 colleges to map themes and create a tailored pathway to partnership report.
  • The report will include areas of satisfaction and recommendations of how to improve learner involvement activities and structures at the institution.
  • The purpose of the report will be to support the embedding of self-assessment within learner voice as a live process and used to form part of the quality cycle within the institution, and will inform college self-assessment. A key part of the process is for college corporations to own and sign off this reporting document to agree a ‘live’ ongoing self-assessment / action plan for learner voice in the college.
  • At both stages the development toolkit and report will remain anonymous. The data is for internal analysis and development of internal processes.


  • First stage visits to be completed: December 2015 to February 2016
  • Second stage to be completed: March – June 2016

Support for the project

This project has cross-sector support.

Welsh Government

“Involving learners in decisions that affect them is as much a priority for the Welsh Government as it was five years ago when we published our Learner Involvement Strategies Guidance. Learner involvement has been proven to be beneficial for individuals, organisational and communities. It can help learners improve their self-esteem and motivation, gain important personal, social and organisational skills, all of which can help them become learners for life. 

That’s why we are pleased to support the Wise Wales project at NUS Wales to deliver the new Pathways to Partnership for Further Education project. It will help our FE Institutions assess the progress they have made towards embedding learner involvement in their quality cycles and identify what more they can do to go beyond this to develop truly inclusive and mutually beneficial relationships with their learners that lead to quality improvements across the whole learning experience.


“ColegauCymru is pleased to support the Pathways to Partnership project that will be led by Wise Wales with funding from the Welsh Government. 

The Pathways to Partnership project is being launched at an opportune moment.  The sector has embraced the principle of partnership and student leadership and there have been some important developments in the area of sports and physical activity in particular.  A number of colleges are establishing student management teams in order to create structured opportunities for peer-peer leadership, development and learner voice in the area of sport.   The Pathways to Partnership project will give colleges an opportunity to pool expertise and develop and improve on good practice that is emerging in different colleges and in different areas in a more holistic way.

We look forward to realising the purposes of the project.”

National Union of Students Wales

NUS Wales Deputy President, Ebbi Ferguson, welcomed the launch of the statement as “the first step” towards building a stronger FE students’ union network.

“Students’ unions are pivotal in making sure the student voice is central to learning,” she said. “We know that strong, embedded relationships between institutions and learners lead to a higher quality experience and higher student satisfaction. We want this to be the ethos in further education, as well as higher education.“We want this new partnership, bringing together all the key players in the future of FE in Wales, to be a catalyst for greater collaboration – and the creation of a shared vision promoting learner voice in Wales.” 

Contacts for the project

Project Manager: Graham Henry: graham.henry@nus-wales.org.uk

Student Partnership Consultants:

Heather Ferguson: heather.ferguson@nus-wales.org.uk @Wise_Wales

Jessica Rumble – jessica.rumble@nus-wales.org.uk @Wise_Cymru