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5 Safeguards Against Quality Issues

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5 Safeguards Against Quality Issues Ingredient Films

Whether you work across different sites, work in a chain or on a peripatetic basis, the question about ensuring quality standards remains an important part of your service. And it’s an important question because all staff who are involved in delivering programmes of study are responsible for maintaining academic standards and providing learners with high-quality teaching.

Paul Joyce, the Deputy Director of Further Education and Skills at Ofsted, says that when the main provider (whether the head of a chain or overarching service, whoever it is, they are responsible for all subcontracted or peripatetic provision) loses sight of what is going on, “it can lead to problems with quality”. He goes on to define quality delivery as “accountable, transparent, and can be monitored and inspected”. Ofsted are clearly taking this element seriously as they have announced new monitoring inspections which will be focused on looking at the relationships between main and peripatetic/subcontracted providers and how they are managed to ensure quality of delivery.

So, the question remains, how can you safeguard against quality issues?

Below are our five safeguards, though they are all interlinked with each other.

1. Effective training and evaluation of needs

Staff should go through an annual (if not more frequent) evaluation of their needs, strengths and weaknesses, so that they have a clear action plan and targets for training, which can then be supplied or acquired as needed. There are many different training methods which can mean that learning styles and needs can be matched to make training more effective for each member of staff. Using evaluation methods prior and after training sessions or the use of training resources can help ensure your staff are given the best quality training themselves.

Staff need training in the policies and procedures of your service/ organisation, as well as regular training to maintain their skills as well as to continue to develop them, including to jog their memories of things they have learnt but forgotten. All teachers have gaps and weaknesses in their repertoires and skill sets, but it is through the effective identification of these that true improvement can be made.

Training around aspects of teaching and learning practices and the Ofsted framework are commonplace, and important, but it could be worth thinking about whether your staff have the skills and knowledge to make judgements about the quality of their teaching and learning provision.

2. Monitoring through data

Data can be an effective measuring tool for quality of teaching and learning provision but also because it can keep track of learner progress and outcomes. If you have competent data monitoring systems and software in place, then you can track how learners are doing in different areas, such as:

  • Attendance
  • Punctuality
  • Progress
  • Completion of assessments

This means that you can see the patterns as they begin to develop and can intervene where necessary, such as offer extra support to those struggling with assessments or deadlines, or discuss attendance issues. Such software/ tracking can also highlight the patterns for the staff members themselves. Data monitoring can be a very valid tool for monitoring learner outcomes and identifying problems before it is too late to resolve them.

Data tracking can also alert you if there is a problem. For example, lots of gaps or delays in updating the system could suggest that that member of staff is struggling to use the system or that they may have issues with timing or workload. Once an alert is made, that student or member of staff can be contacted as appropriated and processes put in place to help.

And remember, data includes learner feedback gathered through surveys and reviews, as well as learner work, assessments and information gathering resources. There is a lot of different kinds of data available, which, when collated together, can help give an accurate picture of what is happening in your service/ organisation.

If you don’t have effective data monitoring software or systems in place, then you are relying on the staff being able to tell you what is going on with their learners and classes, which can be inaccurate, narrow and take up valuable time.

3. Monitoring through observations

Observations are a vital monitoring tool because they allow others to actually seewhat is going on within classes and the quality of delivery they are receiving. They are also highly valuable as they can highlight and help identify areas of good practice for dissemination and praise, as well as areas in which improvements can be made. They help staff become more effective because they should receive targeted and constructive feedback, from which an action plan can be drawn.

There are different methods of observations, but the most popular are: formal, peer and a learning walk. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages and they are best used together to elicit different responses and to ensure consistency. They are also most effective if used a professional development tool, as well as a monitoring one, with a focus on improvement quality of delivery and teaching and learning provision. An effective method to consider is for the visiting member of staff (particularly if the observation is more informal, such as a peer-observation or learning walk) to spend some time as an extra learner, partaking of the teaching through active participation for a short time and get a true feel for the quality of teaching and learning the learners are receiving.

Remember, observations of classes is one of the primary methods Ofsted will employ when inspecting your service, especially when judging the quality of teaching, learning and assessment you provide.

4. Collaboration and peer support

As we are all aware, education can be a very busy and stressful career, with lots of demands on your time. By utilising collaboration and peer support methods, some of the safeguarding and monitoring can be delegated to others and encourage teamwork and shared practice. This is especially important in a more peripatetic setting where staff can end up feeling isolated and cut off.

Collaboration and peer support are fantastic methods for developing skills sets and repertoires through shared knowledge and practice. It can boost staff loyalty, productivity and performance, as well as being great for morale and mental health. It can include:

  • Team-teaching
  • Coaching
  • Monitoring
  • Peer observations and feedback
  • Peer-led learning walks
  • Collaboration with staff in similar roles in different areas and environments
  • Collaboration with staff in different roles and departments
  • Moderation and standardisation
  • Shared training sessions
  • Evaluation of resources, learner work and schemes of work

As with observations carried out by senior staff, colleagues will need to receive training so that they have the skills and knowledge to make accurate judgements and give useful feedback.

5. The role of managers

Managers and senior leaders, as you may expect, have a very important role to play in safeguarding against any possible quality issues. They need to be ‘on-the-ball’ and to have received effective training as well, in areas such as:

  • Understanding Ofsted criteria and their framework
  • How to make accurate judgements from observations and evaluation of learner work
  • How to give useful and constructive feedback
  • How to identify staff needs, strengths and weaknesses,
  • Effective interpersonal and communication skills.

They need to be monitoring data and they need to be having meetings with members of staff frequently to stay up-to-date with what is going on and to be able to solve and catch any issues as they arise. They need to be observing staff formally and informally, sharing good practice and putting steps in place to rectify any weaknesses or errors in practice. They need to be looking through learner feedback gained and identifying any issues and they need to be working to ensure all staff are accessing and making the most of their professional development allocation through conferences, bespoke training, webinars, in-house training and opportunities to collaborate with others.

The most important safeguarding measure is time and it is the hardest one to implement.

Staff need time to implement new strategies and procedures, to take on board new ideas and techniques, to modify their practice. They need time for collaboration and peer support to take place, to fit in the training and evaluation they need, and they need time to meet with their line managers.

If time isn’t found for staff to be able to discuss how to improve and put those plans in place, then things are going to stay the same in terms of quality provided and learner outcomes. Overworked teachers can quickly become overwhelmed teachers who lose their enthusiasm and commitment for teaching, and this then leads on to further issues surrounding quality and learner outcomes.

5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Delivering Bespoke Training

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5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Delivering Bespoke Training Ingredient FilmsBespoke training is widely accepted as a necessary evil: effective training will improve the performance of your staff, improve your staff turnover rates and reduce the likelihood of accidents, but it can be costly. Below are five methods which can help ease the financial burden of such important tools.

1.  Streamlining

The first step is to do a thorough analysis and evaluation of needs and employee feedback to determine which elements of your current training strategy or offer are actually vital. Perhaps even check how successful training is/ has been through quizzes, employee surveys or other assessment methods, afterwards as part of your analysis and evaluation to determine how much they are actually learning from them.

Once you have such an understanding, you can identify areas where elements can be consolidated into smaller sessions and which can be dropped. Many bespoke training providers offer consultants to help coordinate such efforts with what they have to offer. The more information and ideas you have about what you actually needthe clearer you can be when purchasing such training, as well as being able to cut down on the amount you require.

2.  Collaboration

There are two main types of collaborative training. The first is where your employees use the internet to access what is often referred to as ‘crowd support’ which can be through forums and discussion threads through your own intranet or network, allowing and encouraging employees from every part of your organisation to ask questions and support each other. As well as aiding in developing employee’s knowledge, it can have the added advantage of fostering employee relationships and a more positive working environment. It can be time consuming and costly to set up if you don’t have anything already in place, but once up-and-running it can be supported and monitored by your IT team at very little cost.

Or they can access public forums such as through LinkedIn Groups, which allows your employees to access the expertise of colleagues within your organisation and in others. This can help reduce error costs, increase staff productivity, increase self-sufficiency and confidence and also be networking aid.

The second method is face-to-face collaboration where your organisation, or a group of employees within your organisation, work with a group from another organisation who have similar training needs, thereby allowing them to share knowledge and expertise with a wider range of people and cutting training costs as the training will be shared by the two groups/ organisations. For example, a group of your employees are being targeted for management training. A similar organisation has employees with a similar training need and so you decide to team up and work collaboratively, sharing the costs but doubling the productivity and effectiveness of the training.

3.  In-House

By employing in-house options such as job-shadowing and mentoring, you can cut down massively on those onboarding training costs. Such options also have other benefits as well, for example, providing hands-on training by those experienced members of your organisation, which also helps new employees to become more comfortable with their peers and work environments faster. It may also help ease the stress and feelings of being overwhelmed which often accompany the first few days in a new job. While it is likely that such a method will not replace structured onboarding training completely, it will soften it, be a more supportive method and reduce the costs of the structured training which is required.

It’s also possible to produce your own training materials which can help cut down on the number of training sessions you need to host or send employees to, as they can access them anywhere at any time. They’re also likely to be more tailored and targeted to the role and needs of your employees and will be They can also be re-accessed easily for revision purposes.

Another option is training and supporting members of your staff to become subject-matter experts capable and interested in transferring their skills and knowledge to others. Ideally, such experts become in-house instructors who are easily able to adapt their knowledge to your needs and give helpful and highly-relevant examples to support learning. This method, along with mentoring, has the add-on effect in cultivating a sense being needed which could be a catalyst in that employee’s development in terms of confidence and leadership skills. It could also encourage renewed loyalty to the workplace and your organisation.

4.  Video

Video can be an extremely useful training tool as well as a way to cut training costs. As with bespoke training sessions held with an instructor, training videos can be made to order too and tailored to your needs. They also have the added benefit that they can appeal to a number of learning styles, which is extremely useful for employees that don’t learn well sat still listening to someone for a length of time, particularly as they can pause it and rewind as well as take things at their own pace. It is also more engaging that text-based resources and therefore can be more effective.

5.  Online

Technological advances have had a major impact on training methods with a whole host of online and e-learning alternatives. You can have employees take part in webinars and web-conferencing sessions, which lets them access the training and has the same interactive element allowing them opportunities to ask questions and receive on-the-spot feedback, but without having to pay for travel expenses or instructor costs. This also allows training to occur in multiple locations at once, meaning employees in different workplaces or areas of the country can take part in the same training at the same time.

E-learning offers a range of multimedia and interactive training methods which can lead to more effective knowledge/ skill set acquisition and retention in employees. Such an example is synchronous learning, where employees attend live online events but also receive the benefits of being able to talk with an instructor through instant messaging or video conferencing software. They still have the ability to raise questions and concerns, and instructors can help them through bits and encourage them to participate in discussions and activities. In fact, it is possible that for some of your employees this is a more effective method if they are more socially-anxious or less confident and don’t like speaking up in front of groups. The medium of the computer can ease some of this pressure and encourage them to access training more efficiently.

This article has hopefully highlighted how streamlining and rethinking your strategy can help cut the costs of training your staff effectively, without cutting quality. Using a mix of training methods, bespoke and those produced in-house, can help ensure all staff needs and learning styles are met.

Is Training your Workforce Expensive?

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Is Training your Workforce Expensive? Ingredient Films

The simple answer is that it can be, depending on your needs and staff numbers. Costs can accumulate very quickly when they involve exam fees, study materials, instructors, travel expenses, time ‘off-the-job’…and so on. Some training is mandatory as it is a legal duty of being an employer, such as manual handling and food hygiene, and is therefore not subsidised in any way by the government. This can add a lot to an already stretched training budget. But, it doesn’t have to be.

E-Learning

E-learning is a fast-growing industry because of both its ease of access (all you need is a computer and the internet) and because of its variability. There are virtual reference guides, bite-sized modules, automated tutorials, webinars, and synchronous learning which blends the webinar with an instructor’s input. Because of this variability, e-learning caters for the many different learning styles of your learners and can easily become a part of ‘on-the-job’ training instead. It allows employees access not just from one location, but many around the country and even in their own home, cutting down on travel expenses and conference fees.

Apprenticeships

With the government’s pledge to increase apprenticeship provision across all levels, and the apprenticeship levy, now is the best time to take that leap into training apprenticeships or increase your offering. With a bevy of qualifications covered (including ACA, CIMA, ATT, CFA, ICA) and the introduction of higher-level and degree apprenticeships, they are available for anyone wishing to gain further skills and qualifications. This means it’s not just for training school-leavers but also upskilling your current employees.

You may already be paying into the levy funding, in which case you should make sure you’re getting value by ensuring you encourage your employees to express their interest and being working towards their career aspirations today. If you’re not, then government funding is still possible to make sure you can access the same benefits.

Apprenticeships allow you to take back some of the control in training employees in the way you wish them to be, to encourage the development of skills you wish them to acquire, and the knowledge you’d like them to have. You can tailor the apprenticeship, like many bespoke training providers, to your needs, and with funding from the levy, it will cost less than you think.

Other methods

  • Share knowledge and skills internally through in-house training
  • Ensure performance management is effective in identifying needs so training can be targeted rather than broad, but also identify strengths and encourage peer support methods and mentoring.
  • Search for reductions in training costs, such as filling the last available spaces on course, group booking discounts, pilot schemes, or late availability courses. It’s always worth enquiring about when looking into training courses and costs because you never know.
  • Self-directed learning – this could take the form of some of the e-learning options mentioned, or it could be paper-based or video resources (see our ‘5 ways to lower the cost of delivering bespoke training costs’ for more ideas and information), or even through studying distance courses and through the Open University.

 

It’s important to remember, when analysing and evaluating your current training procedures, processes and strategy, why it is important.

Well trained employees = happy employees. They feel valued and more loyal to the organisation if they are encouraged to continue training and provided opportunities to seek advancement. Having an effective training offer also attracts a higher class of candidate when it is time to replace or expand your workforce.

Untrained staff = unhappy staff. They feel unappreciated and underutilised and are likely to be frustrated, less loyal and more likely to make mistakes or fail to meet minimum standards.

Therefore, it is important to keep analysing and evaluating the strengths and training needs of your staff, and your current training strategy to ensure it is both cheap and effective so your workforce is working to its potential.