LWETB QA Procedures

Overarching LWETB Approach to Quality Policy:

LWETB is committed to the development and implementation of quality assurance policies and procedures which are efficient, well-communicated and integrated into our normal activities with minimum unnecessary administrative requirements while ensuring accountability and enhancement. All programmes of education and training within LWETB, regardless of whether or not these lead to QQI awards, other awards recognised within the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or awards of other awarding regulatory or statutory bodies will be quality assured using the new system. The exception is educational provision that falls under the Education Act (1988) for our second level schools. LWETB is in the process of forming a formal statement on Quality Policy to be published by year end.

Successful implementation of our quality system will provide information to assure all stakeholders of the quality of our training provision and provide advice and recommendations on how we might improve on what we are doing. This quality assurance and quality enhancement will support the development of a quality culture that is embraced within LWETB.

LWETB Approach to Development of New QA

Since its establishment, LWETB is operating under six Quality Assurance Agreements which were approved for Westmeath VEC, Longford VEC and Athlone Training Centre. LWETB has the opportunity to incorporate the knowledge and experience gained from all legacy Quality Assurance systems and implement a streamlined system which will inform continuous improvement within our quality culture.

These agreements are published here:

Athlone Community College
Columba College, Killucan
Mullingar Community College
Longford VEC
Westmeath VEC
Athlone Training Centre – Transition Quality Assurance System (TQAS)

As part of the process of continuous improvement in QA and in compliance with QQI statutory guidelines an Executive Self-Evaluation Report (ESER) has been completed and a Quality Improvement Plan to 2022 (QIP) is being activated with identified actions and milestones. Each task identified in the QIP has been aligned to a new QQI Policy Area and also to one of our five strategic goals. This Plan will form the basis of an internal working document to track work flow and the progress of our QIP goals. It will be reviewed and revised periodically as an Agenda item for the QAIG while work continues on the implementation of our new quality system.

An Initial Quality Dialogue Meeting was held between LWETB and QQI on 16th November 2017.

QA Links to Strategy:
LWETB is committed to developing its new quality assurance policies and procedures in line with its strategic priorities as outlined in the Statement of Strategy 2017-2022. Those strategic goals are:

Goal 1: Deliver professional, high quality, learner-centred education and training services
Goal 2: Enhance the learning experiences and outcomes for learners
Goal 3: Foster effective communication, collaboration and partnerships
Goal 4: Progress the development of effective organisational structures
Goal 5: Support a culture of continuous development with staff

Publication of New Policies and Procedures:
As new common policies and procedures are developed and approved by the appropriate governance structure they will be published and will supersede the existing legacy policies and procedures.

Governance and Management of Quality in LWETB:
The LWETB Policy on Governance will reflect how the governance system will support the implementation of LWETB’s quality assurance policies and procedures and ensure that decision-making is aligned with our strategy and values. Following completion of the “Governance and Quality Management Questionnaire”, LWETB is conducting a review of current QA Governance and engaging with ongoing ETBI sectoral developments.

The Code of Practice for the Governance of Education and Training Boards was adopted by LWETB on 23.06.2015. The QIP contains a number of improvement actions to be implemented by LWETB by year end.

LWETB Quality Advisory and Implementation (QAIG) Group:
LWETB has established a new Quality Advisory and Implementation Group (QAIG). The group is responsible for developing and reviewing policies and procedures across the FET service to ensure ongoing improvements in our provision and to facilitate high quality teaching and learning which are fit-for-purpose and meet the needs of our learners and all stakeholders. Programme oversight will also be a responsibility of the group. Terms of Reference will be drafted in line with Governance requirements and will be published on approval.

The current Organisational Chart for LWETB is available here.

The current Governance Structures in LWETB are available here.

LWETB has a corporate structure which is made up of a democratically appointed board comprising of 21 members. The Chief Executive, Dr. Christy Duffy, has responsibility for the executive management of LWETB with the support of the Senior Management Team (SMT), comprising the Directors of Further Education and Training, Director of Schools and the Director of Organisational Support. Governance arrangements for Further Education and Training are an executive function.

Programme Development and Approval:
To date, programmes have been designed and approved in line with current QA agreements. LWETB looks forward to the potential revalidation of these programmes by QQI in 2019 and anticipates this as an opportunity for enhancement of existing programmes.

The oversight of programme development and approval procedures will be the responsibility of the QAIG. Programmes will be designed to ensure they meet the objectives set for them, including the intended learning outcomes. The new Programme Descriptor Templates being piloted in line with the roll-out of the new Validation Process will be incorporated into the development. Ongoing national sectoral work is being completed by ETBI on programme development, design and approval and this is welcomed by LWETB.

A process will be developed to map the lifecycle of a programme through all relevant stages – proposal, design, development, evaluation, validation, approval, delivery, monitoring and review. The qualification resulting from a programme will be clearly specified and communicated, and refer to the correct level of the NFQ.

The drivers for new programmes may come from sectoral training demands, industry and business representative groups, community groups, government initiatives and other stakeholder requirements. Demand may also come from customer feedback, labour market reviews, new company start-ups and company closures, internal research and planning reports, European Union initiatives, regional business needs, emerging EU/national policy, job vacancy trends and requests from external bodies and organisations.

LWETB is committed to a learner-centred approach to the delivery of programmes in ways which encourage learners to take an active role in the learning process and that this is reflected in our assessment process. The completion of the Programme Design Templates as part of the new Validation Process will provide a road map for LWETB to ensure that all aspects of delivery are planned. The diversity of learner needs, different modes of delivery (including blended learning), protection for enrolled learners, procedures for dealing with learner complaints and autonomy of learning will require consistent consideration.

LWETB’s QIP has identified conducting a benchmarking exercise to support the development of a Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Action Plan to facilitate innovative teaching and learning practices.

Assessment of Learning:
LWETB recognises assessment as a core pillar within the overall quality assurance system, the aim of which is to ensure fairness and consistency of assessment. All legacy procedures will be explored with agreed best practice combinations forming the Assessment Handbook for all LWETB assessments. The newly published “ETB Sector National Assessment Procedures Handbook” is welcomed by LWETB and will be incorporated into our Assessment Handbook and rolled out over the next 12 months. LWETB is signed up to the use of the ETBI shared Moodle resources and revised assessment instruments.

Student Lifecycle:
Clear procedures will be developed covering all areas related to the learner lifecycle; admission, progression, recognition and certification of awards. Access policies, admission processes and criteria will be developed and implemented consistently and in a transparent manner and in accordance with national policies and procedures for Access, Transfer and Progression. Strong links exist with Athlone Institute of Technology. Induction to the programme and the provider will be structured consistently for all programmes. A focus will be placed on the importance of the learner voice in the provision of feedback on their learner experience.

Target Learner Profiles:
LWETB FET programmes are designed and offered to meet the needs of a diverse learner profile targeting people at all levels of learning including foundation learners, who may have poor if any proficiency in literacy, numeracy and IT skills, (levels 1-3); progression learners who may have limited proficiency and qualifications but who are interested in progressing from level 4 to a level 5 programme, Vocational learners who have secondary education but who may not be ready for tertiary education (level 5 or 6) and Specific Skills learners who may be seeking upskilling or an apprenticeship / traineeship (level 5/6).

Target learner profiles include:

• Learners and/or their parents/guardians
• Early school leavers
• Those who are under 25 Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), Adults and young people aged over 16 who left school with low or no formal qualifications or low literacy levels
• People with disabilities accessing mainstream provision
• People experiencing disadvantage through social or economic
• People in minority or marginalised groups
• Apprentices and employers
• Adult learners with little or no formal education or for whom English is not their first language
• Unemployed people (both recent and long term)
• People requiring up-skilling
• College withdrawals
• Career changers
• Current learners / learners requiring progression
• Employees (full or part-time)

Programme Information:
Programme Information is available through a variety of media, examples of which are:
• LWETB website: www.lwetb.ie
• Online at www.fetchcourses.ie
• Centre-level websites
• Social media platforms
• Local radio
• Open Days
• Intreo Stands
• Print advertisements
• Hard copy formats through the Adult Guidance service and other stakeholders

Recruitment and Selection:
Prospective learners for all FET courses provided by LWETB have access to dedicated recruitment and guidance teams who provide clear, relevant and comprehensive programme information. In addition, one-to-one guidance is available in person or over the phone about all programmes on offer including: programme title, duration, content, learner profile, entry criteria, modes of training delivery, methodologies used, certification awards (if available) and learner supports to assist them in making informed choices about courses of study and possible accreditation pathways.

Where prospective learners apply for a specific course, the applications will be screened for suitability in line with course eligibility criteria and potential candidates may be selected for interview. Interviews are conducted by relevant personnel such as the course coordinator(s) / tutors / recruitment / guidance staff or programme management to assess whether the person meets the entry criteria. If candidates are not suitable for a course they are given access to support of the LWETB Adult Guidance Service.

Information for Learners:
LWETB provides learners with access to information about their rights and responsibilities from registration. Learners are encouraged if they have any questions or concerns at any time during the programme to speak to their tutor / instructor or programme manager. Learners commence induction at the start of all courses / programmes. New Learner Charters and a Learner Handbook will be developed to provide consistent information on the standard of service learners can expect from all LWETB programmes and it is anticipated that this will be available on SharePoint which is in development in line with QIP.

Teaching Staff Recruitment:
All personnel who deliver FET and assessment are recruited in line with national policies and guidelines and must have sufficient qualifications, skills and expertise to fulfil their designated roles to enhance the teaching and learning environment for learners. LWETB will continue to adopt a fair and transparent approach to recruitment. This approach will be clearly stated and transparent and will communicate roles, responsibilities and codes of conduct. It will be a challenge for LWETB to align staff grades, terms and conditions. LWETB strives to provide a supportive environment for staff to carry out their work effectively.

Staff Communication:
The methods of Staff Communication will be reviewed to ensure staff members are kept informed of issues relating to their roles and to capture and use staff views and feedback. A Staff Handbook to include all HR policies may emerge from this review. A mechanism for imparting feedback to staff members on their strengths and on areas requiring improvement will be explored. Communication with staff occurs through meetings, LWETB newsletters, email and notice board. SharePoint is in development in line with QIP.

Staff Development:
Staff development is viewed as an ongoing process of measures being undertaken by individuals, teams or organisations to improve their skills, knowledge and abilities, particularly as they relate to the workplace and from which added value can be ascertained. LWETB has conducted a skills survey to identify skills needs or training gaps for staff. LWETB will provide support and professional development for staff with leadership roles and/or posts of responsibility across the organisation through the national ETBI Professional Leadership Training.

The Statement of Strategy 2017-2022 highlights that LWETB is supporting a culture of continuous development with staff through its implementation of an Annual Plan for Continuous Professional Development (CPD). A number of action points have been identified in the QIP in the area of staff development.

Resources and Support for Learners:
LWETB is committed to ensuring that there is a learner-centred integrated approach to providing fit-for-purpose resources and that monitoring of these resources is in place. LWETB is responsible for ensuring that appropriate funding for learning and teaching activities is adequate and readily accessible. Learners will be made aware of the services available to them.

Supports exist for learners across all existing quality assurance agreements and LWETB will review these in order to implement a cohesive suite of resources both academic and non-academic to meet the needs of a diverse learner population. The role of support and administrative staff is recognised as crucial in the provision of support services in LWETB.

With all types of learning/delivery, LWETB will identify the most effective and efficient means of supporting learners in achieving intended learning outcomes. The combination of resources available will be relevant to the mode(s) of delivery (e.g. face-to-face, on-line) to ensure they are fit-for-purpose in the context of delivery. LWETB will develop procedures to quality assure the learner resources of a virtual learning environment (VLE) within blended learning programmes. Cohesion in the provision of supports such as literacy and numeracy will be addressed. Moodle is available in some centres and will be explored as an option for all learners.

Adult Guidance Service:
The LWETB Adult Guidance service encourages personal, educational and career development, enabling people to move towards their full potential and make an enhanced contribution to society. All guidance and counselling sessions are free and take place in an impartial, confidential and supportive setting.

Information Management:
Reliable data is critical for informed decision-making and for knowing what is working well and what needs attention. To date the collection of data for the various programmes in FET has been via different mechanisms eg. RCCRS, Salespulse, FARR, QQI Infographics, departmental records etc. LWETB recognises the challenge of integrating the many systems, both manual and computerised, which are in operation across the locations in the ETB. Effective processes will be developed to collect and analyse information about our programmes and these will feed into our quality assurance system.

With the rollout of the integrated Programme Learner Support System (PLSS) it is intended to ensure greater confidence in reporting on data for all programme outputs and learner outcomes. A focus will be placed on the importance of the learner voice in the provision of quality data and the streamlining of data collection from the learner population.

LWETB is committed to ensuring it meets all requirements of Data Protection legislation as evident in the “Data Protection Policy” which is in place and published on the LWETB website. The “Freedom of Information Request Form” is also published on the LWETB website.

Monitoring:
LWETB is cognisant of the importance of the quality of the data which is captured in line with the new Information Management procedures to be developed in carrying out Internal Self-monitoring. The development of any new programme using the Programme Descriptor Template will support the development of performance indicators for inputs and also for measuring outcomes-related objectives.

At a centre level, programme reviews are carried out to ensure that the further education and training process continues to be relevant to learning needs, as well as to ensure continued alignment to a changing labour market. Reviews tend to be periodic and on request as opposed to being scheduled. LWETB is working towards a more streamlined programme appraisal process based on an analysis of existing effective practices. Key to this will be ensuring that our programmes achieve the objectives set for them and respond to the needs of learners and stakeholders. This will be incorporated into the Terms of Reference for the QAIG.

Presently the findings in Programme Evaluation Reports are being communicated directly to management for review. Greater communication of reporting of findings through Governance structures could highlight common themes to be addressed throughout all or many programmes in LWETB or possibly even at national level through sectoral engagement.

Self-evaluation:
As part of the re-engagement process with QQI an Executive Self-Evaluation Report (ESER) has been completed and a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is being activated with identified actions and milestones.
An organisation-approach will focus on the opportunity to highlight effective practice and to address areas requiring improvement in the quality of, or impact on, the learner’s experience, achievements, contributions and on findings from the many stakeholders engaging with the LWETB quality system. The resulting Action Plan will be a critical management tool in the planning for continuous improvement of our programmes.

Peer Relationships with the broader education and training community:
It is the planned intention of LWETB to publish the nature of all external relationships and partnerships both national and international. Current relationships are in place with QQI, ETBI, Athlone Institute of Technology (co-operation agreement), Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS (Service Level Agreement for Apprenticeship) and other awarding bodies, Department of Social Protection, Department of Enterprise and Skills, Teaching Council, CAO among others. LWETB is represented on a significant number of fora and these will be detailed in the new policy.

External Partnerships and Second Providers:
Where second providers are contracted to provide training on behalf of LWETB this training will be monitored and subject to contractual agreement to ensure that LWETB and second providers have clear agreement regarding their respective quality assurance roles and responsibilities. Community Training Providers and Contracted Trainers are currently operating under the TQAS system.

Where work experience is offered on a training programme this will be scheduled for monitoring and oversight to ensure a quality assured training and assessment experience for learners. LWETB will have regard for the QQI Policy for Collaborative Programmes, Transnational Provision and Joint Awards 2012.

Expert Panellists, examiners and authenticators:
The procedures for the recruitment of expert panellists, examiners and authenticators will be agreed by LWETB and will ensure there is ongoing management of potential conflicts of interest. Community Training and Contracted Training provision recruit External Authenticators using the TQAS system. LWETB is involved in the new sectoral approach to training External Authenticators.

Provision and Use of Public Information:
LWETB has a dedicated website www.lwetb.ie which provides current information on all LWETB services. Some centres have their own website and all course information is available online at www.fetchcourses.ie. In writing the new quality assurance procedures, LWETB will ensure that the published information is clear, accurate, objective, up to date and easily accessible and published as soon as practicable.

 

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