Peer support - Netherlands
In the Netherlands, within an overarching education framework set by the government, VET providers (schools) have a high level of autonomy. Each is responsible for the quality of training and education. The education inspectorate monitors schools’ capacity to assure and improve quality. The inspectorate uses a risk-based monitoring system which results in decreased monitoring when a school has proven it is capable of monitoring and improving its own quality. However the inspectorate increases its monitoring when problems are detected.
Within this framework 24 schools cooperate in a Quality Network (www.kwaliteitsnetwerk-mbo.nl). The participants support each other in order to improve the quality of their education and training. This support includes sharing information and experiences, training staff to review the quality of VET providers and by performing reviews in which the system of quality assurance used by an organisation to monitor and improve VET is examined. The Quality Network aims to review all its member organisations every three years.
Quality assurance process
The external review on a VET provider’s quality assurance system is performed by an audit team of four people, led by an independent auditor. The first day of the audit involves discussions with managers, and education and support staff. The main aim is to get an impression on how the organisation’s quality assurance system works. The second day is used to investigate two educational teams in order to understand how the quality assurance system operates at a team level. A report is then compiled and sent to the VET provider’s Board. The VET provider is invited to publish the report’s conclusions and the quality profile of the organisation.
Quality assurance activities
The Quality Network organises training courses for staff from the VET providers so they can become an auditor. Once an individual has completed the course, and produced a portfolio of evidence from a number of reviews, the auditor can be certified and included in a register of reviewers.
As it is common for VET providers to meet standards set by the government, the Quality Network has produced its own set of quality standards that each organisation should be able to meet. To support the Quality Network’s approach to external review, consideration is given to the quality assurance system that is used by the VET provider. This contrasts with the approach used by the inspectorate which focuses on the quality of individual courses. Underlying the Quality Network’s approach is the belief that it is the system that will help to raise the quality of training and individual courses to the required level.
The VET provider’s ability to produce a positive report from the Quality Network’s review gives the government confidence that the organisation can improve or at least maintain its educational quality. The decision to join the Quality Network and participate in its system of peer review shows that a VET school is serious about its responsibility for the quality of its core business i.e. the education and training of young people.