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A CHARITY for young people with learning disabilities has invested in new quality assurance technology to meet critical development planning and Ofsted requirements.

The Highgate-based Harington Scheme delivers individual learning programmes, including gardening courses, which are designed to help young people into employment, further education or lead a richer life.

The charity’s management team, under the supervision of scheme manager Joanna Baxter, adopted new Mesma self-assessment and improvement planning software to assist in the administration, implementation and tracking of its development plan as part of the training provider’s wider commitment to improving quality assurance.

The move has helped to address key concerns highlighted in a 2015 Ofsted inspection that required individual attention as part of the Common Inspection Framework. These revolved around critical development planning and administrative processes, as well as the need to ensure up-to-date progress reports were readily available to assist Ofsted inspectors.

Harington Scheme’s systems fall in line with the requirements of the CIF - alongside safeguarding and IQA arrangements - specifically those focused around monitoring the impact of activities to ensure that they have a beneficial impact on improving teaching and skills learning.

Mesma was introduced in December 2016 at the charity as a real-time and cost effective online management resource that has since initial implementation, delivered significant advantages, helping to control inspection relevant processes across the organisation.

Joanna Baxter said the investment in the online subscription-based service, which replaced the previous paper-based Word document, has ‘delivered demonstrable improvements’.

This in part is reflected by the technology’s contribution towards shifting Harington from a ‘needs improving’ Ofsted to the current ‘Good’ status, which was secured after a recent re-inspection.

She said: “Mesma’s proving a valuable tool, which has helped us to reduce by upwards of two-thirds the amount of time taken to format and produce reports - in some cases, this has been cut from three hours to just one, delivering considerable savings in the process.

“Tasks assigned to staff are now updated quickly while actions can also be updated easily in real-time during our team meetings. Staff can also log-in prior to these sessions to update the status surrounding their assigned actions.”

“Securing a ‘Good’ status certainly benefited from having all the relevant and latest information to hand at the time of inspection. We have demonstrated to Ofsted the value of having an effective self-assessment and improvement planning resource available.”

Mesma has been integrated across Harington’s administrative and management processes during the last few months, and is now perceived as a key component of a ‘much improved’ administrative and supervisory function.

The technology is an adaptable, collaborative and cost effective web-based resource, which enables important areas of the self-assessment process and the associated improvement plan activities to be allocated to authorised people within any training environment. Its key purpose is to drive accountability to improve educational provision for students and learners.

Harington’s self-assessment report (SAR) is now proving less of a strain to administer for Joanna Baxter and her colleagues. Sections can be reviewed and updated quickly on Mesma - along with queries from Ofsted - through an easy-to-use dashboard function and some simple formatting tools.

This is improving overall visibility of the SAR and access to critical performance data, while delivering real-time evidence that assigned tasks and duties are actioned, followed through and then documented in reports. It also provides accessible evidence to support the reporting and recording of teaching observations.

The captured data can be reviewed as reporting processes unfold, highlighting those actions that need to be undertaken or closed-off.

Joanna Baxter says the technology definitely helped in confirming to inspectors at the recent Ofsted improvements in whole sections of data capture, behind-the-scenes processes and staff engagements and actions. “The Ofsted inspector who looked at our SAR commented that it provided a good forensic look at the CIF”, she adds.

Mesma has been, and will continue to be, a massive improvement over the old paper-based system for Harington, offering reassurances, and saving considerable amounts of time when it comes to administration, planning and self-improvement development.

“The team benefit from shared ownership of the system, seeing in real-time the information relevant to them,” says Joanna Baxter. “This is improving the overall management and control of tour day-to-day operations as we move forward to deliver teaching and learning to our young people.”

With the on-going support and technical assistance from Mesma, the technology will only continue to benefit the Harington Scheme, playing an increasingly important role in securing managerial control and peace-of-mind. More at www.mesma.co.uk

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