In the East Midlands the NCOP consortia is the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Collaborative Outreach Programme (DANCOP) which is a progression of NEMCON (North East Midlands Collaborative Outreach Network) and is comprised from several universities and colleges of further education. DANCOP’s initial two goals were:
1. Raise learners’ motivation to work hard and their understanding of the importance of education in their future:
2. Equip learners to plan for progression and make appropriate choices for post-16 study and HE.
This report includes an extensive review of literature on widening access, collaboration and networks and details a formative and summative evaluation undertaken by The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) using data collected from February 2017 to May 2019. It reports on the progress made by DANCOP up until April 2019 with respect to:
1. The development of the collaborative network
2. The extent to which schools and learners have been engaged
3. The perceived impact of activities on learners, feedback from learners, teachers and parents and distance travelled with respect to knowledge/attitudes/intentions pertaining to future options and in particular higher education
4. Innovations in collaborative working and widening access
The evaluation has captured data from surveys, interviews and focus groups from DANCOP team members, management group members, learners, teaching and school staff, session deliverers and third party providers.
1. The network is well established amongst the HEIs, external stakeholders and FE colleges
2. DANCOP has surpassed its targets with respect to school engagement and learner interactions
3. It took a long time to establish the central and hub teams and recruit college based roles, partly because of the policies and processes inherent in HEIs and FECs but also because of non-competitive salaries and short term contracts.
4. It took a long time to build awareness in schools and develop good working relationships so that activities could be delivered. In short term funded programmes this is a problem.
5. DANCOP could work more quickly if legal, recruitment and financial issues and executive sign off could be facilitated.
6. Collaborative work has been supported by:
a. Representation of key partners across different management groups
b. The structural and physical location of teams and individuals
c. An agile Steering Group and inclusion of further education colleges through the IPG
d. ‘Blended Professionals’ who have significant experience, knowledge and skills and are able to cross boundaries to get work done
7. Key innovations have been the IPG, a small but agile steering group and using funding for longer term resources such as skills study coaches in colleges and the STEM Centre.
8. With respect to activities, feedback has been almost entirely positive, and this includes learners, teachers, DANCOP staff funded roles and parents. This has been the case across the wide range of different activities which have been delivered, across year groups and across delivery teams.
9. Activity evaluations show participants report significant increases in knowledge about HE and confidence.
10. Comparisons of knowledge, attitudes and intentions between DANCOP and non DANCOP learners suggest there have been the desired changes in DANCOP learners. They have shown increased likelihood of attending FE and HE, increased sense of academic fit, increased confidence and increased knowledge of HE.