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ADVANCED online quality assurance technology has enabled an independent training provider to have critical information to hand to secure its latest Ofsted grade.

Milltech Ltd, which provides training and apprenticeships in the motor industry, business administration, management, sales and customer service, warehousing and storage, and IT sectors, helps more than 200 learners a year achieve nationally recognised qualifications.

The 17-strong team uses Mesma self-assessment and improvement planning software to evaluate training activities and implement plans which secures the Sunderland-based training provider’s quality assurance requirements.

These are around safeguarding, CPD, inspection notification, communications planning, observation processes, filing systems and accessibility, securing stakeholder views, and subcontractor QA arrangements.

Milltech’s systems are in line with the requirements of the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework (CIF) – alongside safeguarding and IQA arrangements – specifically those focused on monitoring the impact of QA activities to ensure they have a beneficial impact on improving teaching for their learners.

Operations manager Mark Askew said the value of Mesma, which has been in place for four years, proved ‘immeasurable’ recently in helping the training provider to maintain a ‘Good’ Ofsted grade, offering a real-time and cost effective management resource to control inspection relevant processes across the company’s two office locations.

He said: “We have been able to demonstrate to Ofsted that retaining our ‘Good’ status was based in no small measure to having the relevant information to hand during inspection. This has been down to the value of having an effective self-assessment and improvement planning resource – Mesma – available at the touch of a button.

“The technology, which has been integrated across our administrative and management processes over the last few years, is very much part and parcel of our operations, enabling us to retain quality processes that are better managed on a daily process.”

Mesma 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.

Milltech adopted the technology to improve visibility and access to critical business performance data, while providing real-time evidence that tasks and duties assigned to staff are being actioned and followed through, as well as being documented as simple-to-understand digitally printable reports.

These reports, which staff can input and contribute to on a regular basis, capture data that can be reviewed as self-assessment reporting (SAR) processes unfold, highlighting all necessary actions that need to be undertaken or closed-off.

Mark Askew says the technology has proved pivotal in confirming to Ofsted inspectors’ improvements in data capture, the processes that go on behind this and demonstrable staff engagements and actions.

“Mesma is undoubtedly a huge improvement over paper-based systems, adding real value to our operations and considerably assisting in addressing and improving important quality assurance issues.

“The team benefit from shared ownership of the system, seeing in real-time the critical information about achievement and improvement business-wide. This makes for far better informed decisions as we move forward to embrace the changing FE and training landscape.”

Looking to the future, Mark Askew is preparing for the Reforms now coming into effect, and says that technology will play more of a role in helping to deliver the new apprenticeship standards to both SMEs as well as levy paying employers.

“Training providers must adapt quickly to comply with the apprenticeship changes and tools like Mesma will be vital in helping them to prepare for the introduction of end-point assessments and other critical matters.”

As an example, he points to the new Customer Service Practitioner apprenticeship standards, explaining that Mesma is already helping Milltech to be a step ahead in being prepared for deliverance of the module and the necessary due diligence that will go with it.

“Using it will enable us to undertake self-assessment, plan and secure greater managerial control and deliver efficiencies to time intensive processes in future,” adds Mark Askew. “Mesma has become an indispensable tool, adding real value and assuring that we will always be ready for Ofsted.”

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