The Mid and North Wales Skills Consortium was formed in September 2010. This was in response to the Welsh Government’s request for proposal to operate work based learning from August 2011 to July 2104. The consortium secured a €4 million contract to provide training in a range of sectors:
- Business Administration;
- Construction, Planning and the Built Environment;
- Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies;
- Health, Care and Early Years Learning;
- Retail and Customer Service;
- Steps to Employments;
The consortium provides training courses and apprenticeships to large and small employers and organisations in the region. The consortium has developed an existing on-line compliance information system, Maytas, (http://www.maytas.net/portal/) to create a bespoke and robust quality performance and management tool. This system enables managers, training mentors to monitor achievements and learners’ progress by bringing information into one place in a clear and simple form. For the trainers the system:
- includes clear and simple presentations of data on a range of indicators using a traffic light system. This helps trainers and mentors to identify learners who are at risk and need additional support. This management tool helps learners to complete their training;
- provides on-line access to staff from all parts of the consortium. This includes accessing the system remotely (using mobile devices which are issued to all the members of the consortium) when they visit learners during their work-based learning;
- has led to greater ownership and acceptance of the use of data as teams are able to analyse and discuss information about specific vocational programmes and learners’ progress;
- saves staff time as mentors can check progress on a range of issues, including the issuing of learners’ certificates, the dates of learners’ assessments etc.
There are also benefits for managers as the system:
- has the ability to analyse and monitor cohorts of learners over a range of performance information;
- generates reports using data from the consortium. These enable audits and evaluations to be created by all the partners who use the system.
By involving all members of the consortium in the creation and development of a centralised system, the benefits for learners and employers can be maximised. In addition each of the partners in the work-based learning consortium is fully involved in the development of the reporting processes. The use of an established IT and reporting system benefits small VET providers and employers, and ensures consistency of information and advice.
The consortium’s system provides comprehensive and real-time data on learners’ participation, completion and placements. The consortium is also able to link their on-line information with other systems (e.g. the BKSB functional skills data base - http://www.bksb.co.uk/home/) which enable comparisons to be made to provide national data. The comprehensive data provided by the system supports a quality improvement system which is evaluative and self-critical; it also allows the consortium to make informed decisions about the future provision of work-based learning as well as developing action plans for improvement.
The consortium’s comprehensive management information system provides a ‘user friendly’ system to track the performance and progress of all learners in the consortium in ‘real time.’ This web-based resource can be accessed by the consortium’s staff when assessing learners and reviewing their progress at work and during training in VET centres. The system also allows learners to access reviews of their performance through an e-portfolio and this encourages them to take greater ownership of their progress. The learner-centred approach gives instant access, in an easily accessible format, to the full range of systems offered by the VET colleges.
A self-assessment report (SAR) is completed in partnership with all the consortium members.
The SAR is self-critical and self-reflective. It is used to inform a quality development plan and a consortium development plan (CDP). The SAR contains information from a wide range of sources on the performance of each learning area in the consortium. Throughout the consortium all staff use data to review and monitor key aspects of training, for example the progress of learners and how the consortium is performing against national benchmarks. The CDP informs the action plans at the consortium, provider and learning area level. Issues relating to underperformance are addressed and progress towards agreed improvements is monitored closely.
There has been an external evaluation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales. The inspection measured performance against three questions:
- How good are the outcomes?
- How good is provision?
- How good are leadership and management?
The current performance is rated as good with significant areas of sector leading practice.
At time of the inspection approximately 1,000 learners were using this system as part of their work-based learning. Since the merger of the lead college in the consortium, the number of learners has increased to over 3,500.
For more information on this case study, contact:
Phil Whitney firstname.lastname@example.org
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