From education to employment

What next for quality improvement after successfully registering as an apprenticeship provider?

Louise Doyle, director of Mesma

If you’ve successfully applied to the #RoATP as a new #apprenticeship provider, you’ll know this is only the first step towards delivering high-quality programmes.

I firmly believe (and the Ofsted data would support this) there isn’t any provision within the FE landscape that is harder to do well.

The complexity of funding, juggling multiple stakeholders, rolling recruitment programmes and the move from frameworks to standards contribute to this amongst many other factors.

We hear similar concerns and challenges in relation to quality assurance and improvement raised when we support new providers:

  • “We’ve never been inspected before, so our understanding of Ofsted and what it’s like to be inspected is pretty low.”
  • “We’ve been asked to write a self-assessment report and quality improvement plan. Help!”
  • “We’ve got so much on our plate with making sure we’re ESFA compliant we haven’t even started thinking about being inspected.”
  • “We’re seriously worried about the impact of not doing well in an early monitoring visit/ inspection. We’ve heard negative things from other people in the sector. As an employer-provider the reputational damage is concerning our board”
  • “We’re wearing so many hats as a small team, focused on doing well for our apprentices, it’s difficult to keep track of what all of these other bodies expect of us.”
  • “I’ve been on the training and attended webinars but with so much on, it’s easy to forget what was said once I’m back in the day job.”

As is always our way, we encourage everyone we work with to continue to focus on the very reason they got into delivering apprenticeships; for the good of the apprentice and their employer. Yes, preparation for a visit from Ofsted is helpful but only to gain confidence in ensuring you’re able to show what you do well, explain what needs to be improved and what you intend to do about it.

We say this from a position of experience having been on the receiving end of many inspections over the years. Effective self-assessment and a structured approach to improvement planning is a cornerstone of this; do it first and foremost to drive your own organisation’s success.

We’ve spent time mulling over how we can support new providers with this, implementing the quality improvement policies and processes written about as part of a RoATP application. We recognise money can be tight in the early days and investment in software needs to be proportionate.

Free insightQ access

Whilst we’re a commercial business, I’m proud that we’ve built a reputation for being generous in our willingness to give our time and resource for free – along with many of our clients supporting us – to driving improvement in the sector. We would like to extend this to our software solution insightQ in 2020.

Therefore, if you:

  • Deliver apprenticeships in England
  • Have not had a full inspection by Ofsted
  • Would like to build a robust approach to self-assessing from the outset

We will give you free access to the insightQ Evaluate and Store modules for one user to help write a really good self-assessment report and collate your evidence base to link with it easily.

We warn you now; if you’ve a tendency to write a lot of words, we’ll be challenging you to reduce the quantity and improve the quality! We could all do with that right?

To find out more, get in touch with the Mesma team.

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