Mikaela Collins, Director of training, WBTC

A training provider has harnessed the insightQ software platform from Mesma as part of a drive towards more effective quality improvement planning.

Newbury-based West Berkshire Training Consortium (WBTC), established in 1983, provides training services to thousands of people across the local area, equipping them with the learning and skills to pursue employment opportunities in a wide variety of jobs.

Since 2012, the organisation has been using Mesma’s InsightQ platform as an integral part of its quality improvement planning process, which has garnered praise from Ofsted. The web-based resource enables important areas of the improvement plan activities to be owned and driven by WBTC team members and other authorised people within a training environment. Its key purpose is to drive collaboration and accountability to improve educational provision for learners.

WBTC has evolved the software over the years and is highly effective in allowing its team members to record development aims and objectives along with the expected impacts and outcomes. It also records whether these are achieved, partially met, or still in progress or yet to be completed.

Mikaela Collins, director of training, says that InsightQ plays a big part in the work at WBTC, contributing significantly to its quality improvement journey.

She says: “While working on the development areas, we use the ‘progress report’ facility to add updates throughout the journey. This automatically records the date and who added the progress. These remain on the system throughout the duration and are recorded like a post in note to show the journey.

“Once colleagues have achieved the task, we use the drop-down box to select this was ‘met’ and convert the action to ‘complete’. It’s that simple. This creates a tick against that action, so we can see at any stage which actions are still outstanding.

“The software then sends an email if you go past an action date that was planned for you. This will be sent to the person responsible for each action. The developments are set up in a way that you have the overall objective and can then add each individual action that goes with this.”

She highlights some examples to illustrate the case in point. An objective might include ‘Narrow achievement gaps across groups of learners’ as part of an overarching development requirement. Lesser objectives falling within this - such as ‘Reverse the growing achievement gap for male learners’ and ‘Narrow the achievement gap for learners with a declared disability’ - are then set.

These are monitored monthly or quarterly, with progress reports against each action added as and when appropriate. In this case, these actions would not be closed until the end of the year when the data is final. However, progress and associated actions completed along the way would be recorded throughout the year. Then, at the end of the year, the final impact and outcome would be recorded via InsightQ, helping us to reflect on progress made in year as the starting point for our self-assessment process.

Each development area and associated objective(s) have their own individual target dates and strategic lead, with InsightQ enabling Mikaela Collins and her colleagues, to present an up-to-date quality improvement plan for review at team and management meetings as well as the Board of Directors/Trustees.

She adds: “We link the objectives against the current Inspection Framework and number each of the bullet criteria. The reference for each objective is cross-referenced with the inspection criteria.

“When we produce a report on quality and developments for the Board, they can clearly see how the work being undertaken fits in with the areas that will be inspected by Ofsted and can therefore challenge our quality and overall provision.”

Indeed, WBTC’S quality improvement plan has received praise from Ofsted over our last two inspections, with comments that included:

‘Trustees know the strengths of the provision and areas for improvement well because they are very effectively and regularly briefed by leaders with just the right level of information. As a result, they can challenge and support leaders and managers to sustain and continually improve the quality of the provision. Self-assessment is largely accurate, and a detailed quality improvement plan allocates clear individual responsibilities and sets appropriately challenging targets and timescales for action. Trustees and senior leaders monitor and manage progress against improvement targets very effectively.’ (May 2017).

‘Arrangements to evaluate the quality of the provision are rigorous and have had a significant impact on improving managers’, tutors’ and training coordinators’ ability to take actions to raise standards.’ (May 2013).

The improvement planning module lies at the heart of WBTC’s operations, says Mikaela Collins: “We are consistently reviewing and improving our provision. Our detailed and involved quality improvement plan delivered through InsightQ is a fantastic tool.”

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