The survey is run by IFF Research and tracks the progression of learners into further learning and employment, as well as social outcomes including wellbeing, self-efficacy, social integration and participation in volunteering.
The London Learner Survey has been commissioned by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and is a key part of their ongoing management of the Adult Education Budget (AEB). The survey will provide the GLA and providers with critical information on the impact of taking part in AEB-funded courses and provide key data and evidence about the case for more investment in the AEB.
The survey is being piloted between January and March 2021 with all providers. The main survey will begin in August 2021.
How does it work?
The London Learner Survey consists of a baseline survey, administered by providers to learners at the beginning of their course, and a follow up survey, administered by IFF Research, 5 months after learners have completed their course. The baseline survey involves the following:
– Each provider will be given their own survey link, to distribute among students at the start of their course. To make distribution as easy as possible, this is a single, generic link that can be used by any learner at that provider who is eligible to take part.
– When they click on the link, learners will be asked to enter their learner reference/ ID number and basic contact details, so that IFF can match their survey responses to their Independent Learner Record (ILR) data when it becomes available.
– The survey will take most learners around 10 minutes to complete and will be run predominantly online, however it can also be completed by paper or phone for learners who cannot take part online. There are multiple language options to ensure accessibility for students who speak English as an additional language.
– Each provider will have an IFF Liaison Officer to guide them through the process and answer any questions. Providers will be asked to send their Liaison Officer details on the number of new learner starts so that IFF can monitor response rates, and keep IFF informed about how they are distributing the survey so we can monitor the impact of different distribution modes and maximise responses.
The follow up survey, completed 5 months after the learner has finished their course, will be run completely by IFF Research online and by phone, with all learners who have completed the baseline survey and given permission for recontact. This does not require any provider involvement.
To make sure the survey is representative of all learners and findings are valid, it is really important that as many students as possible complete the baseline survey, and we will support you in ensuring this happens. We have taken steps to make the survey accessible to all groups such as learners doing ESOL courses or learners with learning difficulty or disability.
Those learners who complete the survey can enter a prize draw to win an iPad. The T&Cs for entering this draw can be found here.
What do providers need to do?
Identify learners who are eligible to take part in the baseline survey
After receiving training from IFF and being introduced to your Liaison Officer, you will first to need to identify learners who are eligible to take part in the survey.
Distribute the survey link
You will then need to distribute the survey link, provided by IFF, to your learners. The link can be distributed anytime from when they first enrol on their course, to two weeks after they have started their course.
If students are taking part in more than one course around the same time, only one link will be needed per student, and students will only need to complete the survey once.
Encourage students to complete the survey
For the survey to be fair and representative, we need as many eligible students to complete it as possible, so we will ask you to encourage students to complete the survey. This can be through email reminders, posters and leaflets, on social media and provider websites, and through tutors during their first course sessions. IFF will provide you with email and reminder text and publicity materials.
Keep your IFF Liaison Officer updated
So that we can monitor response rates, we will ask you to provide IFF with monthly updates of the number of eligible learners starting courses that you are distributing the survey to. We will also ask you to update us on how you are sending the survey out, and will work closely with you, providing resources and tips to help you encourage students to take part, to ensure a good response rate.
Provide alternative survey options to ensure accessibility
To ensure the success of the survey it is essential that all learners are supported to complete it. The survey is available in different formats to ensure accessibility, and we ask that providers support students to make use of these where needed:
– The survey landing page is available in 10 different languages, and the survey content in five different languages. IFF will also assist speakers of other languages by talking them through the survey over the phone in their own language if they request this.
– The survey has different text size functionality, screen reader compatibility and will be made available in an easy read format.
– For students who cannot complete the survey online, a batch of paper questionnaires and reply paid envelopes will be made available to each provider. The survey can also be completed by phone on request with an IFF interviewer.
If you have any questions about the London Learner Survey, check our Frequently Asked Questions page, or get in touch with your IFF Liaison Officer by emailing LLSTeam@iffresearch.com
How to identify eligible learners for the pilot
For the mainstage of the survey, you will need to distribute the survey to most AEB funded courses / learners. However, for the pilot, we are giving providers the option to distribute the survey to learners on a selection of courses only.
If you have a class which includes both GLA AEB-funded learners and other learners (e.g. self-funded or ESFA AEB-funded learners) , you can invite all the learners to complete the survey (to avoid having to distinguish between different types of learners on the same course). IFF will suppress any ineligible survey completes from the main data outputs after we have matched baseline completes to the ILR data.
Options for distributing the London Learner Survey to learners
We want to make it as easy as possible for providers to distribute the survey to their students and maximise the number of responses. You can distribute the survey to students in a variety of ways depending on what suits your organisation’s processes. We would recommend that as a minimum all learners should receive an emailed link together with encouragement to complete the survey either at enrolment or early in their course.
Timeline for completing the pilot baseline survey
The pilot is due to finish in March 2021, when IFF will be keen to hear feedback from the providers who took part, on the process itself and support provided by IFF, in order to make improvements for the main stage. We’ll be in touch nearer the time with a short feedback form which you’ll also be able to access on this webpage.
Frequently asked questions
The GLA announced on Monday 18th January that the London Learner Survey baseline survey is being postponed until the start of the Easter term.
IFF Research will be pausing work on the baseline pilot survey until mid-March, when we will get back in touch with you to confirm the new pilot timings. At this point we will also issue reminders of materials and course selection guidance if needed, and make available an updated training video.
The pilot materials, course selection approach and methodology will all be unchanged, apart from the start date, so you can also refer to our previous communications if you want to start your planning earlier.
Yes. It is mandatory for providers to take part in both the mainstage survey and the pilot. As the main stage will be on a much larger scale than the pilot, involving all eligible learners on AEB-funded courses, it will be beneficial for you to take part in the pilot to prepare and test how the processes will work at your institution, for your learners. Taking part in the pilot is also an opportunity for you to feed back on your experiences to inform the main stage rollout.
IFF is unable to administer the baseline survey directly because we have no access to learners’ contact details at the point they start their course. For this reason, the baseline survey has to be administered via providers. IFF will handle the follow-up survey completely as by that stage we will have access to learners’ contact details: no provider involvement is needed for the follow-up.
Administering the survey for the baseline involves:
– Identifying learners who are eligible to take part in the baseline survey. For the pilot survey only, IFF will provide you with guidance on which learners/courses to invite. For the mainstage learners doing any GLA AEB-funded course, except for short taster courses, should take part in the baseline.
– Distributing the survey link. The link can be distributed anytime from when they first enrol on their course, to two weeks after they have started their course. If students are taking part in more than one course around the same time, only one link will be needed per student, and students will only need to complete the survey once.
– Encouraging students to complete the survey. For the survey to be fair and representative, we need as many eligible students to complete it as possible, so we will ask you to encourage students to complete the survey. IFF will provide you with email and reminder text and publicity materials.
– Keeping your IFF Liaison Officer updated. So that we can monitor response rates, we will ask you to provide IFF with monthly updates of the number of eligible learners starting courses that you are distributing the survey to.
– Providing alternative survey options to ensure accessibility. The survey is available in different formats to ensure accessibility, and we ask that providers support students to make use of these where needed. The online survey is translated into five of the most commonly spoken languages in London. The homepage is available in the ten most common languages, where learners can request a telephone interview in their own language if needed. For learners who cannot complete the survey online, a batch of paper questionnaires and reply-paid envelopes will be made available to each provider.
All learners on GLA AEB-funded courses are eligible to take part in the survey if they are starting their course within the necessary pilot timeframes. We will be in touch in mid-March to confirm when they will need to start a course in order to be eligible.. You are welcome to administer the survey to all such students.
However, for the pilot, if it would be easier to administer the survey to a subset of students, please see the guidance that IFF has provided on which courses to select for receiving the baseline survey.
What should we do if we have both GLA AEB-funded learners and other learners (e.g. self-funded, ESFA AEB-funded)?
If you have a class which includes both GLA AEB-funded learners and other learners (e.g. self-funded or ESFA AEB-funded learners), you can invite all the learners to complete the survey (to avoid having to distinguish between different types of learners on the same course). IFF will suppress any ineligible survey completes from the main data outputs after we have matched baseline completes to the ILR data.
While you say that we can target all learners on selected courses, even if they are not all GLA-AEB funded learners – if there are only very few students that would be truly eligible, would it be ok to just target those ones? I.e. if only 1 student in a class of 15 is likely to be eligible, would it be acceptable to just ask that one student to complete?
In that case, yes it is absolutely fine to target specific learners if this is possible and you are happy to do so. While we CAN remove any learners from analysis who are ineligible later on, if the proportion of ineligible learners in a class is likely to be high then it is beneficial to just target those who are eligible from the start.
The survey is designed to be completed mainly online but paper and telephone alternatives are available for learners who need them. You can distribute the survey to students in a variety of ways depending on what suits your organisation’s processes. We would recommend that as a minimum all learners should receive an emailed link to the online survey, together with encouragement to complete the survey either at enrolment or early in their course. A batch of paper copies of the questionnaire, with reply paid envelopes, will be sent to your institution for any learners that are unable to complete the survey online and need to do it on paper.
Learners who speak English as an additional language can complete a translated survey online if the available translations are suitable for them. Alternatively, we are also offering telephone interviews in other languages that they can request from the survey homepage.
The survey has been designed to be as straightforward as possible, but we recognise that some learners may have difficulties completing it due to language or literacy issues or lack of digital skills to get online. The online survey has been translated into five of the most common non-English languages in London, while the survey introduction is available in ten languages and enables learners to request a telephone interview in their own language if needed. IFF will also send all providers a batch of paper copy questionnaires and reply-paid envelopes which can be distributed to learners on request.
If you find that many learners are coming to you with issues completing the survey, please remind them of the options to do it on paper or in a different language. Please also feed back to your liaison officer at IFF about any substantial difficulties your learners are facing.
This isn’t something we expect providers to be able to do, but we are happy in principle for this to happen if necessary, and if the provider wishes to do so.
Do you anticipate offering full survey translations for the 5 languages that currently only have an introduction translated? (Or indeed, any other languages)
Yes we could offer the survey in more languages for the mainstage based on demand.
How do we provide IFF Research with information about how many eligible learners we are targeting for the pilot?
IFF Research will be in touch in mid-March to confirm the new pilot timings, including when this information will be needed. Your provider liaison officer will then ask you for this information and you can provide it directly to them.
If you sub-contract GLA AEB-funded provision (excluding taster courses), this is eligible for the survey and learners enrolled with sub-contractors should be invited to take part. The main contractor is responsible for ensuring that the survey information is cascaded to sub-contractors and that all eligible learners are invited to participate.
We would like as many learners as possible to take part in the baseline survey, to provide robust volumes and a representative spread of London learners. It’s also crucial to get a good response at the baseline, in order to ensure sufficient learners take part in the follow up survey.
Will providers receive targets for the baseline survey response rate, and will they be penalised if these are not met?
Currently, we do not plan to introduce hard targets for the response rate or penalties. However, the more learners who take part in the survey, the better information you will have on learner motivations, experiences and outcomes from GLA AEB-funded provision, so please do encourage as many as possible to take part.
Around 10-12 minutes on average, but we recognise that some learners may take longer than this. Learners can complete the survey in stages if they enter their email address at the start, as this enables us to send them a new link which they can use to pause the survey and return to where they left off, if they need to finish it later.
Will it be possible to get a copy of the questionnaire, so we can familiarise ourselves with the questions?
Yes – ahead of the pilot starting again we will provide a list of the questions asked.
No, we can’t show which students have completed the survey unfortunately. This is for two main reasons: 1) Data protection rules mean that we need to keep this confidential, and 2) We may not initially know which students have taken part, as it depends on what information they give us at the baseline stage. We ask for student ID, name and date of birth, but these are optional.
Yes, results from the mainstage survey will be shared with specific providers so that you can see the results from your own learners. We probably won’t be sharing data from the pilot in this way due to the smaller numbers of learners taking part.
Yes, the follow-up survey will ask for feedback on courses that the learners have undertaken, so at the mainstage providers will get to see the feedback (in anonymised / aggregate form) that their learners have given their courses.
The survey asks for the Learner Reference Number, which is the number that providers give to their students on enrolment. This is “LearnRefNumber” in the ILR. It is not the ULN. It is very useful if students give us this number but it is optional in the survey.
You mention a student number is asked for in the survey. We don’t usually give our students a student number on registration – do we need to generate one?
We will use the student number in two ways – to check if a learner has already completed a baseline survey and does not need to do it again, and to allow us to match the data from the baseline survey to the ILR (by looking up the number entered in the survey against the “LearnRefNumber” field in the ILR).
It is not mandatory to enter a student number, and learners will be able to complete the survey without one – in that case we would use other information (such as name, date of birth etc.) to match each learner to their ILR record.
However, without a learner number we won’t be able to flag to learners if they have already completed the survey previously, so to avoid any extra burden on learners it may be helpful if you were able to allocate student numbers to your learners for this reason.
Is there a way of making sure the Learner Reference Number is not duplicated across different institutions?
Our system will combine the Learner Reference Number entered by the learner with the provider ID code to create a unique identifier for that learner, and it can use that unique ID to check if that learner has already completed a baseline survey.
If learners will be starting more than one course during during the pilot period, should they do the survey more than once, for each of their courses?
If learners are starting more than one course within a month, they will only need to do the baseline survey once (though they would be able to choose to do it again if they would like to). If their courses start more than a month apart, we will ask them to complete a baseline survey for each course. This timeframe will be reviewed for the mainstage, however it is important to test the possibility of learners being asked to complete multiple baseline surveys for different courses as part of the pilot.
The survey will generate evidence about all outcomes from adult education, not just the more ‘traditional’ economic measures relating to work or progression into further education. Hence, the survey asks about a range of wider outcomes including wellbeing, self-efficacy, and social interactions.
Is there guidance for tutors on how to explain why we ask these questions, especially around wellbeing?
Yes – there is a specific section within the tutors Q&A document that answers this question. The learner information leaflet also sets out that these kinds of questions are asked, and explains why.
Due to the questions asked in the survey around wellbeing, the survey may identify learners who are struggling. Is there anything we can do around safeguarding?
As the survey must remain confidential we can’t contact specific learners based on their responses, however we are investigating for the mainstage what signposting or support for learners might be possible.
IFF Research have ISO27001:2013 accreditation, the gold standard of data security, and CyberEssentials. This means all our process are geared towards meeting stringent data security requirements. We adhere to the GDPR and learners will get information on how their data will be used, where it will be stored and when it will be deleted, at the start of the survey. Learners’ contact information is stored on our secure servers at IFF and only members of the project team have access to it.
A number of our students have not given consent to be contacted for surveys (regards the ILR privacy notice question). Where do we stand from a legal / data protection perspective when it comes to sending them the baseline survey?
The ILR allows learners to opt in or out of being contacted for general market research, however it does not exclude people from research informing government policy, such as the London Learner Survey. Under the ‘public task’ lawful basis, and in line with the ILR privacy notice, we are permitted to invite all learners to take part in the London Learner Survey, and so will expect the invites to be sent to all in-scope learners (regardless of whether they agreed to be contacted for general market research by other third parties).
Learners can enter a monthly prize draw to win an iPad.