Quality Assurance Information

11 Core Areas of Quality Assurance

The LWETB Governance Policy reflects how the governance system supports the implementation of LWETB’s quality assurance policies and procedures and ensures that decision-making is aligned with our strategy and values.

Governance in LWETB operates at corporate, ETB and centre levels. LWETB is governed by a Board of 21 democratically-appointed members including 12 representatives from the local county councils of Longford and Westmeath; two members elected from staff; two parent representatives; and five members with a special knowledge of education and training. The Chief Executive, Dr. Christy Duffy, has ultimate executive responsibility for the oversight and management of LWETB with the support of the Senior Management Team (SMT), comprising the Director of Further Education and Training, Director of Schools and the Director of Organisational Support.

FET QA operational support is provided by the Quality Unit, who, along with staff representatives across the ETB network, form part of the ETB governance structures; namely the Quality Oversight Group, Quality Governance Group and Programme Governance Group.

Programme and service managers for each centre provide governance oversight at local centre level in line with the subsidiarity principle.

LWETB FET Governance Structure Dr. Christy Duffy, LWETB Chief Executive approved the LWETB FET Policy on Governance in February 2019. For more please click here.

The LWETB Quality Statement was approved in August 2019.

Longford and Westmeath ETB (LWETB) are developing a quality assurance (QA) system that is fully documented to ensure there are robust policies and procedures operating across all provision of further education and training (FET).

Currently LWETB FET centres have an extensive suite of quality assurance policies and procedures documented in the relevant legacy QA agreements as follows:

Athlone Community College

Columba College, Killucan

Mullingar Community College

Longford VEC

Westmeath VEC

Athlone Training Centre – Transition Quality Assurance System (TQAS)

The integration and enhancement of the six existing legacy QA systems will be an on-going continuous improvement project for LWETB.

LWETB have developed a Glossary of Terms to ensure clarity and consistency of the QA language used.

As procedures are developed / revised, approval is sought from the Quality Oversight Group. Once approved QA documentation will be uploaded to SharePoint and the relevant sections of the LWETB website.

This is a long-term project in an ongoing cycle of continuous improvement; as new common policies and procedures are developed/reviewed they will supersede the existing individual policies and procedures which are currently available in each centre.

Where policies and procedures have yet to be revised, learners, FET staff and stakeholders can revert to legacy QA agreements.

Where policies and procedures have yet to be developed, learners, FET staff and stakeholders should refer to legacy QA agreements.

Ongoing QA Development
In October 2017 LWETB completed an Executive Self-Evaluation (ESE). Please click here to view the Executive Self Evaluation Report.
The Quality Assurance Improvement Plan (QIP) which resulted from the evaluation exercise, incorporated the outcomes and improvement activities identified in the LWETB Executive Self-Evaluation Report.

Quality improvement planning is ongoing and annual, and, as Self-Evaluation Reports and Quality Improvement Reports are finalised they will be published here:

• Executive Self-Evaluation Report (ESER), 2017

Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), 2017 – 2018 and Progress Report on 2018 QIP

• Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), 2019 and Progress Report on 2019 QIP

• Appendix 1 QIP 2019

• Appendix 2 QIP 2020

• Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), 2020 Progress Report 2020 QIP

Longford and Westmeath ETB’s (LWETB’s) Programmes

Course Information

All courses and programmes offered by LWETB can be found on the FETCH (Further Education and Training Courses Hub) Courses website. To access this website, please click here.

LWETB looks forward to the revalidation of programmes by QQI and anticipates this as an opportunity for enhancement of existing programmes.

Programme development and approval procedures are the responsibility of the Programme Governance Group and oversight ultimately rests with the Quality Oversight Group. Programme design should ensure the learner is supported to achieve the programme’s intended learning outcomes. The new Programme Descriptor Templates being piloted in line with the roll-out of the new Validation Process will be incorporated into the development. Ongoing national sectoral work is being completed by ETBI on programme development, design and approval and this is welcomed by LWETB.

A process will be developed to map the lifecycle of a programme through all relevant stages – proposal, design, development, evaluation, validation, approval, delivery, monitoring and review. The qualification resulting from a programme will be clearly specified and communicated, and refer to the correct level of the NFQ.

The drivers for new programmes may come from sectoral training demands, industry and business representative groups, community groups, government initiatives and other stakeholder requirements. Demand may also come from customer feedback, labour market reviews, new company start-ups and company closures, internal research and planning reports, European Union initiatives, regional business needs, emerging EU/national policy, job vacancy trends and requests from external bodies and organisations.

LWETB is committed to a learner-centred approach to the delivery of programmes in ways which encourage learners to take an active role in the learning process and that this is reflected in our assessment process. The completion of the Programme Design Templates as part of the new Validation Process will provide a roadmap for LWETB to ensure that all aspects of delivery are planned. Learner admission, the diversity of learner needs, different modes of delivery (including blended learning), protection for enrolled learners, progression and recognition of prior learning are all key elements in improving service provision.

LWETB’s QIP 2020 has identified conducting a benchmarking exercise to support the development of a Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Action Plan to facilitate innovative teaching and learning practices.

The LWETB TEL Action Plan is in place for 2020 and has been adapted in line with necessary measures due to COVID-19. To date additional equipment has been procured to ensure a streamlined approach to blended learning. There has been an increased provision of short training courses on the use of educational technologies on both Microsoft Teams and Moodle. A webinar series to upskill staff in the area of Educational Technologies has been launched.

The main focus of the plan from the new academic year is as follows:

• Provide Office 365 training for staff on the use of Microsoft Teams in a classroom environment and using OneNote Class Notebook
• Continue to use eCollege to develop staff skillsets using Moodle
• Purchase relevant software to support Blended learning engagement
• Develop a process of a TEL link person in centres
• Continue to provide relevant resources to staff using Teams and Moodle platforms
• Encourage the roll out of Communities of Practice among staff in their vocational/subject areas

Longford and Westmeath ETB has recruitment policies and procedures in place, managed by Human Resources Department in line with nationally agreed policies and procedures. All LWETB’s courses are delivered by suitably qualified staff who are recruited in line with LWETB’s HR protocols.

Staff communication

LWETB’s Quality Newsletter is available here

Professional Development (PD)

LWETB takes a proactive approach in encouraging and facilitating FET teaching staff to participate in professional development activities in order to update skills, strengthen competencies and collaborate with professional colleagues. The role of LWETB’s Professional Development co-ordinator is to implement a strategic and coordinated approach to professional development for FET practitioners in line with the strategic needs of the organisation at both a local and national level. This work is being guided and supported through SOLAS Professional Development strategy.

Please contact Tracey Anderson for further information on pd@lwetb.ie

LWETB is committed to creating within its centres, a learning environment that allows learners to have a holistic learning experience, facilitating them to develop both personally and academically within each individual’s physical, social, cultural and intellectual needs.

LWETB’s commitment to learners is affirmed by developing policies and procedures that improve access and support to learners on their journey through further education and training.

Longford and Westmeath Education and Training Board is committed to developing a single set of QA assessment policies for all Further Education and Training centres to ensure fairness and consistency of assessment. These will be in line with QQI Sector Specific Guidelines and all assessment guidelines for National and International Awarding Bodies.

An Internal Verification procedure for use across all FET centres is currently in development and the process of External Authentication is being reviewed by the Quality Governance Group in LWETB.

Appeals

Longford and Westmeath ETB (LWETB) are in the process of developing an appeals process to enable the learner to appeal the assessment process and/or the assessment result. Currently existing appeals process are in use.

Learner Support

LWETB is committed to providing a range of supports for learners to ensure that our programmes and services are accessible to all. Please click here for supports available to learners in LWETB.

As outlined in the LWETB Learner Charter, LWETB expects learners “to take responsibility for proactively seeking support from relevant sources”. Learners are encouraged, upon application for admission, to disclose any additional needs or disabilities they may have, to ensure that appropriate supports and/or reasonable accommodations may be put in place in relation to course work and assessment.

Learner Admission

Currently learner admissions policies and procedures remain at centre level across Longford and Westmeath Education and Training Board FET Centres.

Learner Feedback

Currently Longford and Westmeath ETB seek feedback for the majority courses which is managed at local level. LWETB are currently developing an integrated feedback system across FET.

Reliable data is critical for informed decision-making and to identify what is working well and to respond quickly to what needs attention. To date the collection of data for the various programmes in FET has been via different mechanisms eg. RCCRS, Salespulse, FARR, QQI Infographics, departmental records etc. LWETB recognises the challenge of integrating the many systems, both manual and computerised, which are in operation across the locations in the ETB. Effective processes will be developed to collect and analyse information about our programmes and these will feed into our quality assurance system.

LWETB uses a range of document repository systems to store information.

SharePoint currently hosts all Quality Assurance documentation and briefings with staff have taken place to communicate the work of the Quality Oversight Group, the Quality Governance Group and Programme Governance Group. LWETB intends to expand SharePoint as a staff portal, to enhance the communications about QA.

Website

LWETB has a dedicated website www.lwetb.ie which provides current information on all LWETB services.

Longford and Westmeath ETB have data protection policies in place in line with current GDPR legislation. For more information on data protection within LWETB please click here.

Freedom of Information requests can be made here.

Programme and Learner Support System (PLSS) 

PLSS is designed to manage course scheduling through the national course calendar (NCC), learner applications and data, funding applications, evaluation and reporting. Courses scheduled can be accessed through https://www.fetchcourses.ie/

LWETB has a dedicated website www.lwetb.ie which provides current information on all LWETB services.

Longford and Westmeath ETB have data protection policies in place in line with current GDPR legislation. For more information on data protection within LWETB please click here.

Freedom of Information requests can be made here.

LWETB believes that engagement with stakeholders and strengthening peer relationships with the broader education and training community is key to developing a quality assured range of services for our clients.

SOLAS, the statutory body responsible for the co-ordination and funding of training and further education programmes for the FET sector in Ireland agrees an annual Service Level Agreement (SLA) with LWETB. This SLA underpins a close working/symbiotic relationship between SOLAS departments and LWETB where specific performance targets and objectives are mutually agreed for the delivery of FET programmes throughout LWETB centres with learners central to all decision-making.

Other relationships are supported by Memoranda of Understanding with QQI, ETBI, Athlone Institute of Technology (co-operation agreement), Department of Education, and other awarding bodies, Department of Social Protection, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Teaching Council, CAO, Local Enterprise Offices, Libraries etc. LWETB is represented on a significant number of fora and organisations not limited to Leader Groups / Local Community Development Committees, Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan, Midlands Regional Skills Forum, County Childcare Committees, Family Resource Centres, Chambers of Commerce and Local Drugs Task Forces. Together there is collaboration to cater for local employment, educational and training needs.

Second provider relationships are developed through the contracted training provision undertaken on behalf of the training services with Community Training Centres, Local Training Initiatives, Department of Justice Workshops and the National Learning Network.

Self-evaluation, monitoring and review of the quality of service provision is a fundamental element of any quality assurance system. Opportunities are embraced across LWETB, at corporate and centre level, to include the learner voice and stakeholder feedback where possible, as these are crucial to informing how best policies, procedures and systems can be continuously enhanced.

At a centre level, programme reviews are carried out to ensure that the further education and training process continues to be relevant to learners needs, as well as to ensure continued relevance to a changing labour market. LWETB is working towards a more streamlined programme appraisal process based on an analysis of existing effective practices. Key to this will be ensuring that our programmes achieve the objectives set for them and continue to respond to the needs of learners and stakeholders.

Courses are evaluated using mid and end of course evaluation forms as well as tutor/assessor feedback. Internal Verification processes provide an opportunity to monitor the assessment processes, while the External Authentication process and the Results Approval Panel (RAP) meeting focus on trends in results and facilitates the review of issues arising from particular assessment rounds.

Through the QQI Re-engagement process LWETB undertook an executive self-evaluation of quality assurance arrangements within the organisation and developed a five-year quality improvement plan (QIP) to address identified areas for improvement. The exercise has proven beneficial in embedding the internal monitoring and review processes for quality improvement planning.

Annual Dialogue Meetings with QQI further supported the practice of conducting internal quality reviews and have served to inform the prioritising of quality improvements within LWETB. In March 2020, LWETB reported to QQI on progress to date in implementing our QIPs up to the end of 2019 and identified our quality improvement plans for 2020.

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