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Mark Simpkins

  /  Outcomes   /  So What?’ Are You Asking The Right Questions?

So What?’ Are You Asking The Right Questions?

In today’s competitive world, educational institutions are constantly pressured to deliver results that justify their existence. However, it’s important to ask the question: “So what?” when it comes to conducting certain processes unless they have a tangible impact on the learners, employers, or staff involved. In this blog, we’ll explore why it’s crucial to focus on outcomes rather than just outputs in further education.

The importance of outcomes

As an educational institution, your ultimate goal is to provide learners with the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to succeed in their careers and personal lives. However, if the processes you undertake don’t have a positive impact on learners, employers, or staff, then they may be nothing more than busy work. It’s important to focus on outcomes, rather than just outputs, to ensure that you’re making a real difference in the lives of those you serve.


Learner outcomes

The most important outcomes for an educational institution are those that directly impact learners. These outcomes can take many forms, such as increased knowledge, improved skills, and greater confidence. It’s important to regularly evaluate your processes to ensure that they’re delivering the desired outcomes for learners. This could involve gathering feedback from learners, tracking their progress over time, or conducting surveys to assess their satisfaction with the education they’ve received.

For example. ‘Over 75% of our apprentices complete their apprenticeship.’ – “So what?” How many of them stay in employment in the sector? How many of them get given additional responsibilities upon completion? How many of them get promoted or progress onto a higher level qualification/standard? Know your destination data.

Employer outcomes

Another key stakeholder in the education process is employers. They’re looking for learners who have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their respective industries. As an educational institution, it’s important to ensure that your processes are aligned with the needs of employers. This could involve regularly reviewing your curriculum to ensure that it’s up-to-date and relevant, offering work-based learning opportunities, or partnering with industry leaders to ensure that your learners are job-ready.

For example. ‘Our curriculum is designed and sequenced to cover all knowledge, skills and behaviours.’ – “So what?” Employers are often looking for new employees who can hit the ground running and be productive from day one. If an educational institution can deliver learners who are ready to contribute to the workplace right away, then they are more likely to be attractive to employers. So consider what is important to each individual employer, what they’re looking for in a learner in terms of ‘soft skills,’ and deliver a curriculum that can be flexible and teaches the knowledge and skills that are important to them early on in their programme.

Staff outcomes

Lastly, it’s important to consider the impact that your processes have on staff. Whether they’re teaching, administrative, or support staff, they play a critical role in the success of an educational institution. If they’re not engaged or motivated, then it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to deliver the best possible outcomes for learners. It’s important to regularly evaluate staff satisfaction, provide professional development opportunities, and foster a positive work environment to ensure that staff are engaged and motivated.

For example. ‘We put all our staff through mandatory safeguarding training.’ – “So what?” What impact does this have on your staff? What have they learnt that’s new? How does this support leaner’s development?

In conclusion, as an educational institution, it’s crucial to focus on outcomes rather than just outputs. While it may be tempting to focus on metrics such as enrolment numbers or completion rates, these metrics don’t necessarily tell the whole story. By focusing on outcomes, you can ensure that your processes are having a tangible impact on learners, employers, and staff, which is ultimately what matters most. So, the next time you’re considering implementing a new process, ask yourself: “So what? What impact will this have on those we serve?”


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