With the quality agenda at the forefront of the minds of leaders and managers in further education and skills, the big question is, how do you know how good you are?
It is important to focus on:
- devising Key Quality Indicators (KQIs) to drive improvement
- designing quality assurance tools you will use to inform your judgements about the standard of education and training you provide
- having a clear understanding of how these help you make judgements against, for example, the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework.
1. Understand your quality standards
A good place to start is to identify which quality standards you have to work with, the rewards for meeting the standard and implications if you don’t. Work with your teams to document each standard which you are judging yourself against.
The Ofsted Common Inspection Framework
Rewards for meeting the standard
- Good reputation leading to higher value contracts
- Higher standards leads to greater opportunities for securing future contracts
- Easier to attract new staff
- Happy learners who have achieved their education goals
- Etc, etc
Implications if you don’t meet the standard
- Poor reputation leading to loss of future business
- Harder to engage new employers
- Harder to retain and attract staff
- Loss of contract
- Etc, etc
2. Understand what good looks like
Whilst we do not advocate that an external inspection regime should drive your entire approach to quality improvement, we do recognise the value in utilising an external framework to provide structure. A pre-existing framework can provide a good baseline on which to build your own measures, applicable in your own context.
If the standard has a grade profile, as is the case with the Ofsted Common Inspection framework, what indicators are relevant to each grade? Can you work with your teams to identify key quality indicators which allow you to measure your progress and end point against them, ensuring they are realistic as well as challenging
3. Involve others
All too often, quality assurance tools are developed in isolation of wider teams. It is an obvious point perhaps that the tools need to be communicated in the context of the quality standards set, otherwise the purpose of them can be misinterpreted.
There are many different methods for reviewing the quality of education and training taking place. These frequently range from analysing data, carrying out audits to evaluating learner surveys and analysis of performance data for example.
By engaging with your staff early, you are more likely to get the buy-in when it comes to their understanding of i) relevance to their own performance targets ii) why particular tools are deployed iii) remit of those involved in quality assurance activity and iv) a willingness to reporting findings
4. Develop a schedule?
Establish at what point throughout the year is best to carry out these quality assurance activities. For example; is it best to carry out a learner survey just before you are about to undertake your self-assessment? How can you reduce the burden on those completing such a survey when taking into account what else they may be asked to do at certain points in the year? If delivering a work-based programme, it can be a useful discussion to have with the employer at the outset. A well thought out schedule delivering results at the right time will enable you to make a more accurate up-to-date judgement.
5. Plug the gaps!
Finally, after looking at the key quality indicators, quality assurance tools and frequency of use, map these against the standard you are judging yourself against. Do you have criteria which are not covered by your scheduled activity? What else is needed? Equally, don’t lose sight of the fact that you may be doing too much.
We have created a simple template which can be used to work with your teams.