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The South Yorkshire e-learning Programme (SYeLP) , branded as e-sy.info, was set up in 2001. It was a partnership of the four local authorities in South Yorkshire: Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield City Council, with support from Yorkshire Forward and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Established as a European Union (EU) Objective 1 funded project, which began with an initial feasibility study, followed by a pilot phase in 2001/2002 and roll-out of the main programme from 2003 onwards, the programme’s vision was:

  • to contribute to economic regeneration in the sub-region and support the growth of information and knowledge-based industries through developing the digital skills of the current and future workforce;
  • to harness the potential of digital technology to support and enable learning for all ages 10 and above, in schools, colleges, businesses and the community.

Aims South Yorkshire is an area of around 1.25m inhabitants. It is mainly urban but with rural pockets and has no unitary political authority. When the programme started, the area was in severe economic decline due to the collapse of its traditional industries of coal and steel, and it was judged by the EU as an area of economic deprivation with GDP less than 75% of the EU average.

As a result the programme was set up to deliver and realise the benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education and training, across South Yorkshire by:

  • Improving educational achievement in schools and colleges
  • Addressing social exclusion
  • Increasing the skill-base of the current and future workforce to attract high technology companies
  • Narrowing the digital divide
  • Accelerating inward investment in ICT-related activity
  • Sustaining the growth of e-learning throughout South Yorkshire

At the heart of the programme was a Virtual Learning Environment, a single point of access to learning resources shared by all organisations in the programme and by users through the Internet anywhere and anytime.

Achievements The programme’s achievements include:

  • The creation of a single e-learning environment, which has aided the development of e-maturity and confidence in ICT and digital technologies in the sub-region
  • Engaging 150 educational organisations in e-learning across South Yorkshire including, 31 primary schools, every secondary school and all Further Education (FE) colleges
  • Engaging 450 Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to participate in e-learning
  • Developing e-learning in local community facilities such as Libraries and New Deal for Communities’ Projects
  • Installing & upgrading ICT infrastructures in schools, colleges, businesses and local community organisations
  • Engaging over 36,000 learners in e-learning
  • 18,000 learners gaining ICT qualifications at Level 2 or above
  • A growing national and international reputation for successful delivery of the largest e-learning programme in Europe through partnership working, as part of an economic regeneration strategy

Awards Since the programme was set up in 2001, it won a number of awards including:

  • International “Supporting Excellence in e-Learning“(SEEL) Quality Award for e-Learning Regions
  • National “e-Learning age Award for “best example of supporting learners online” from the e-Learning Network (2006)

Throughout the sub-region the programme has also directly contributed to:

  • A rise in the number of pupils gaining ICT qualifications, with attainment in South Yorkshire rising faster than the national average and the sub-region’s closest statistical neighbours
  • The numbers of General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) ICT entries doubling over the same period
  • Substantially closing the gap between South Yorkshire schools and the national target for pupil to computer ratio, with over 13,000 pieces of kit supplied