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Students choosing their post-16 courses and subjects will be able to see which career options they will open up and the average salary the job will pay – thanks to a ground-breaking new website.

They will also be able to see which colleges and sixth form schools offer those courses, their projected grades and potential university courses after the app, called Skills Route, won the Education Open Data Challenge, run by the innovation foundation Nesta and the Open Data Institute (ODI) and supported by RM Education and Haringey Council.

Skills Route, developed by MIME Consulting, uses open data on the post-16 performance of schools and colleges in different subjects to help users identify providers offering their chosen subjects and their personalised expected grades at each. It works by presenting the results for students with similar GCSEs to them who took the course rather than the course average. Based on these predictions, the tool also lists potential higher education institutions and career progression routes with average salaries. 

For example a school leaver in Crouch End could input their predicted grades at GCSE and the subjects they would like to study at sixth form or college and Skills Route would provide them with their predicted results at places of learning within a radius of their home. This will also bring up a list of higher education subjects suiting their selection and institutions as well as career options with average salary and job options.

If a young person’s GCSE grades mean that A Levels are not appropriate for them, Skills Route will suggest a range of alternative post-16 options, including vocational courses and apprenticeships.

As part of the Open Data Challenge Series, which aims to develop solutions for a range of social issues using open data, individuals and projects were invited to create a product that would help students and their parents make informed choices about their education. Using open data already available they also had access to two new data sets released especially for the competition by the Department for Education (DfE) and Haringey Council.

Skills Route was revealed as the winner after three finalists were invited to pitch their product to a panel of judges including Elizabeth Truss MP, Under-Secretary of State for Education, having earlier being awarded £5,000 and a period of incubation support to develop their products.
 
The winning tool will now receive £50,000 to help it launch in the next year, when it will be available to school students and their parents as well as schools’ career centres.

Ed Parkes, Senior Programme Manager for Nesta, comments: “Skills Route is the first of its kind and will no doubt become an important tool in helping to ensure school leavers and their parents make more informed decisions when it comes to furthering their education or career. The website is a perfect example of how widely available, but, often complex information, can be better utilised and applied to every day life. We hope our Challenge Series opens the door to more people to experiment with the limitless possibilities of open data.”

Jeni Tennison, Technical Director at the ODI, says: “Skills Route is a great example of how open data can be used to offer a new perspective on a common issue. We want to see more startups, like the team behind Skills Route, developing innovative new services and products which benefit UK citizens.”

Steve Preston, Director at MIME Consulting, developers of Skills Route, says: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the Education Open Data Challenge. We have been using education data for a long time through our work with schools, but the Challenge gave us the impetus to create something new and powerful for parents and young people. Encouraged by the incubation support we received, we have already started testing Skills Route with Year 10 students and parents, and plan to start a formal pilot with schools in the coming months. Thanks to everyone who has helped us get this far.”

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss MP, said: "We are opening up Government data to give students real information about where their subject and college choices will lead them. Too often students do not take critical subjects like maths because they do not know the impact on their future salary and career prospects. This tool will show the importance of keeping options open and provide up-to-date data in a fast changing employment market."

The Education Open Data Challenge complements the Government’s 2013 pledge to be the most transparent ever by giving teachers, parents and policy makers more access to data and research to develop software and applications that would help the public.

As part of its work with the ODI and Nesta, the DfE has provided safe controlled access to the National Pupil Database which contains information about pupils’ progress, attainment and a range of other factors. Parents would only be able to view their own child's data with any other information aggregated and anonymised.

In addition the DfE is also giving parents access to more information about schools by requiring every primary school, secondary school, college and school sixth form to publish a series of key measures in a clear, at-a-glance format on the front page of their websites. A consultation on how that information should be presented is currently under way.

Huge amounts of data have already been opened up so parents can make informed choices about which schools are best for their child. They can now see the number and proportion of children in each school studying each subject at GCSE, and what grades were achieved, for instance. They can also see what proportion of pupils from each school or college progress to the best universities, like Oxbridge, or end up not in any form of education, employment or training.

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Education Open Data Challenge

The Education Open Data Challenge forms part of the Open Data Challenge Series which is led by Nesta and the ODI. The Education stream was supported by RM Education, which helps deliver technology enabled learning, and Haringey Council and saw teams come together to create products and solutions using open data to help parents make informed choices about their children's education in one (or more) of three key areas:

·         Expressing a preference for a school

·         Choosing a subject or other learning priorities

·         Engaging with their children’s learning

As part of the Education stream, the DfE provided access to the National Pupil Database and Haringey Council made an anonymised sample of their schools admissions data available.

The judging panel was:

·         Geoff Mulgan, CEO, Nesta (Chair)

·         Peter Ashworth, Haringey Council

·         Dave Anfield, Delivery Director, RM Results

·         Ben Gibbs, Director, Restart-Ed

·         Jeni Tennison, Technical Director, Open Data Institute

·         Elizabeth Truss MP, Under-Secretary of State for Education

For more information on the Open Data Challenge Series which is funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills visit: http://www.nesta.org.uk/project/open-data-challenge-series

About Nesta: (www.nesta.org.uk) is the UK's innovation foundation. We help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. We are an independent charity and our work is enabled by an endowment from the National Lottery. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales with a company number 7706036 and charity number 1144091. Registered as a charity in Scotland number SC042833. Registered office: 1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE

About the ODI: The Open Data Institute catalyses the evolution of open data culture to create economic, environmental, and social value. It unlocks supply, generates demand, creates and

disseminates knowledge to address local and global issues. Founded by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the ODI is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, Limited by Guarantee company. It has secured £10 million over five years via the UK innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, $750,000 from global philanthropic investor Omidyar Network, and is working towards long-term sustainability through match funding and direct revenue.

About MIME Consulting: MIME Consulting (www.mimeconsulting.co.uk) is a technical consultancy specialising in the intelligent use of data to aid decision making, with a particular focus on the education sector. They provide a range of management information services to schools, local authorities and charities, including data analysis, visualisations and web applications.

For Open Data Challenge Series media requests contact: Laura Scarrott in Nesta’s press office: [email protected] / 020 7438 2697, or Emma Thwaites, Open Data Institute, on 07990 804805.

Images available on request.