From education to employment


Investment in online technology is enabling a local authority-training provider to improve quality assurance and be Ofsted-ready at the press of a button.

Gateshead Council Learning & Skills, which provides community learning, apprenticeship and JobCentre Plus training, as well as family learning support and Skills 4 Life, helps more than 11,000 people a year to secure new job skills and achieve nationally recognised qualifications.

The organisation uses Mesma’s insightQ subscription-based software to improve self-assessment planning and evaluate progressacross its operations, centralising control of staff actions and reporting in the process, and monitoring these more effectively as part of its quality assurance requirements. 

These requirements revolve around safeguarding, CPD, inspection notification, communications planning, observation processes, filing systems and accessibility and subcontractor quality arrangements.

The training provider’s systems are in line with the requirements of Ofsted’s Inspection Framework arrangements, specifically around monitoring the impact of quality assurance activities to ensure that they have a beneficial impact on staff development and teaching for learners.

Sonya Anderson, senior adult learning and skills manager, sees the ‘Improve’and ‘Evaluate’modules of insightQ, which she and her colleagues, who include the principal, learning skills manager, curriculum managers and those with responsibility for business development, data and funding and safeguarding, use as ‘extremely valuable tools’. 

She recalls 2016, when Ofsted recognised during its inspection of Gateshead Council Learning & Skills’ activities the value of insightQas providing a real-time and cost effective management resource – one actively improving the control and inspection of critical processes.

Sonya said: “We could show to Ofsted that our ‘Good’status is supported through having the appropriate information readily to hand during inspection. We put this down to the value of having an effective self-assessment and improvement planning resource – insightQ – available, showing the evidence of a quality assurance throughout our journey.

“The technology, which has been integrated across our administrative and management processes over several years, is now very much part and parcel of our oversight and managerial operations. It centralises control of important administrative functions and action reports, allowing us to track priorities and record staff progress, so much easier than any other systems I have used.

“My colleagues also like using Mesma. It keeps them up-to-date about important actions as they track and record their own progress against agreed actions, again helping to improve overall quality levels and boost efficiency.”

Mesma’s insightQ is a versatile, collaborative and cost-effective online resource, which enables important areas of the self-assessment process and 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.

Gateshead Council Learning & Skills adopted insightQ to improve visibility to operational performance data, while providing evidence that tasks and duties assigned to staff are being completed on time, or if not, flagged for further action.

Sonya Anderson says the technology’s pivotal in evidencing improvements in data capture, background processes and demonstrable staff engagements and actions: “The system is undoubtedly a huge improvement over paper-based ones, adding value to our operations and considerably assisting in addressing and raising quality standards.

“The team benefit from shared ownership of the system, seeing the critical information about achievement and improvement across the entire operation. This makes for more informed decisions as we move forward to embrace a changing training landscape.”

As she looks to the future she is currently integrating the new Observe module to allow her colleagues to schedule and capture centrally the outcomes of on-going learning observations.

She adds that the technology will play a strong role in helping to deliver the new apprenticeship standards to all learners in both levy and non-levy paying employers.

“As a training and skills provider, we are adapting to comply with changes, and new tools like the Observemodule, will help us prepare for the new Ofsted inspection landscape which will be coming into effect from this September,” says Sonya Anderson. 

“For instance, we will see more rapid and effective reporting and feedback, helping us to quickly identify trends and direct resources to where they are most required, as the module goes live.”

Mesma’s InsightQ is proving to be a shrewd investment forGateshead Council Learning & Skills. Easy-to-use and well supported, it’s driving through improvements in quality while transforming the measurement of progress into a more manageable, visible daily process.

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