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Lord Sandy Leitch was commissioned by the government in 2004 to carry out an independent review of the long-term skills that the United Kingdom would need to achieve maximum growth, productivity and social justice by 2020.
The review identified that the UK was lagging behind in the skills market compared to other countries such as USA, Canada and South Korea. This is largely due to the fact that in the past opportunities to gain skills has been elitist in that only those who can afford to progress educationally to gain skills have done so, this has meant that people have not been given the opportunities to reach their full potential. More than a third of working adults have not achieved even the basic qualifications resulting in a large proportion lacking in basic skills - numeracy and literacy. The press release from the government summarises the Leitch report as stating that out of 30 Organisation for economic co-operation and development (OECD) countries, the UK is 17th on low skills, 20th on intermediate skills and 11th on high skills. Five million adults in the UK lack functional literacy which is represented as a level 1 qualification and seventeen million adults have difficulty with numbers. It also stated that more than one in six young people leave school unable to read, write or add up properly.
A highly skilled workforce is essential to the country's economic growth to enable it to meet the demands of the consumer. The benefits for the individual will mean higher incomes and raise aspirations, for employers it a greater emphasis on vocational skills
Lord Leitch concludes:
"Skills were once a key lever for prosperity and fairness. Skills are now increasingly the key lever."
Sir Andrew Foster was asked to carry out a review of the future role of Further Education colleges in 2004.
The review identified that some strengths within his report such as a committed and professional workforce, a strong commitment to inclusion, a diversity of courses already provided.
On the other hand many weaknesses were highlighted such as problems with the level of qualifications and skills, image & reputation through underperformance although this was pointed out that it only affected 4% of the provision, conflicts between FE colleges, the LSC and the DfES, there were too many bodies inspecting, advising and regulating and too many students do not achieve the qualification on the course that they enrol, in summary that they are not realising their full potential.
The recommendations were to have a greater emphasis on vocational courses, those that end with a qualification so that they can be used within the workforce. Local employers need to be consulted on what skills they require their workforce to have so that the courses offered are relevant to the local community. Another recommendation is that any inspections should have a lighter approach; colleges should not being inundated with inspectors. Colleges need to work within the community to offer essential skills by providing outreach to those that would not be able to access the college, ensuring inclusion. Students should receive impartial advice from colleges with regard to courses that suit them and not the college. More institutions schools, colleges, voluntary organisations, support organisations and Higher Education establishments should all work with each other for the benefit of the learners and the employers.
As with the Leitch review these recommendations will take time, funding and effort from all involved. The LSC has undergone major changes through the 'Agenda for Change' program which supports the recommendations in the Foster report in meeting the workforce skills in the employment sector, by funding courses that have vocational qualifications.
As a result of the Leitch review the Government made a recommendation that all childcarers hold the minimum of a current level 3 certificate in early years. In order to achieve this they can apply for funding through the 'Transformation Fund' which was set up by the Government as part of 'Choice for parents, the best start for children: a ten year strategy for childcare. This gives parents a greater choice about returning to work and ensuring that their childcare needs are met.
Reece & Walker (2000) Teaching, Training and Learning: A Practical Guide, Business Education Publishers Ltd
Smith, M. K. (2001) 'Donald Schön: learning, reflection and change', the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/thinkers/et-schon.htm accessed on 26th October 2007
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/newsroom_and_speeches/press/2006/press_leitch.cfm accessed on 21st October 2007
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/newsroom_and_speeches/press/2006/press_leitch.cfm accessed on 21st October 2007
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality_assurance accessed on 25th October 2007
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_Professional_Development accessed on 26th October 2007
Provide extracts from their ongoing reflective learning journal which will analyse and evaluate:
Their understanding of the principles and processes of evaluation including its role in quality assurance.
'Evaluation is the process of collecting and/or using information for the purposes of determining the value and worth-whileness of the subject of the evaluation process' (Birley & Morel 1998).
Evaluation involves the systematic determination of the quality, value or importance of things. In the context of the tertiary education reforms, the adoption of an evaluative approach means a direct focus on 'valued outcomes' and 'key contributing processes'. It is important that the elements of the evaluation framework are clearly identified and that the framework and elements are coherent and practical.
A significant aspect of the tertiary reforms is that a common framework for quality assurance will apply across the sector. There will, however, be variations in the evaluative methods, tools and approaches used in sub-sectors. The intention is to have a flexible approach, responsive to the needs of the sub-sector, without compromising the integrity and usefulness of the overall evaluation process and findings.
Principles and key features of self-assessment and external evaluation and review are mutually reinforcing and support improved outcomes for learners. The key features provide examples of what the principles could look like in practice.
Evaluation questions guide the direction and intent of the evaluation process. (Evaluation questions are open-ended questions about quality, value or importance, for example: How effective is the teaching? How well do programmes and activities meet the needs and aspirations of learners?)
Evaluation indicators identify the 'valued outcomes' and the 'key processes' likely to contribute to them, as well as identifying what the evidence for these might look like. They also signal possible causal relationships. Evaluation indicators are supported by research, and sector and agency experience, about what works.
This paper deals specifically with the first element of the framework - the principles. There will be consultation on the other elements as work progresses in these areas.
Overarching principles of new quality assurance
The following principles underpin the new approach to quality assurance.
1. The primary responsibility for quality and improvement lies with individual TEOs. Therefore self-assessment should be embedded in TEOs' routine planning, operational and business activities.
2. It is intended that the evaluation framework provides a common basis for quality assurance across the tertiary sector.
3. The focus for quality assurance will be on the quality of learning which is considered to be the combined result of the quality of the learning experience (including teaching) and the value of the outcomes achieved. This is illustrated in Figure 2.
The quality of the learning experience
The quality of learning = +
The value of the outcomes achieved
Figure 2 - The focus on learning and teaching
4. While focusing on the quality of learning, compliance with the regulatory arrangements remains important. TEOs will still be required to demonstrate that they comply with relevant legislation and regulations. Figure 3 shows the relationship between outcomes, key processes influencing outcomes and compliance with the regulatory arrangements.
The methods of achieving desired outcomes vary depending on context. There is no 'one right way' and TEOs are encouraged to be innovative and flexible in response to local circumstances, within the constraints of the regulatory arrangements.
Evidence of TEO contribution to:
learner outcomes (achievement and progress)
TEO level outcomes
system level outcomes
Compliance with Regulatory Arrangements
Evidence of TEOs meeting legislative and regulatory requirements
Key Processes Influencing Outcomes
Evidence of TEO internal systems and processes for:
needs identification at learner, employer, regional and national levels
quality improvement (considering evidence of both process and outcome)
Figure 3: The relationship between outcomes, key processes and compliance
5. The quality assurance system will recognise and reflect the distinctive contributions of TEOs including specific recognition of the nature and roles of MÄori providers such as wÄnanga. This means that within the evaluation framework there will be different tools and processes developed for different types of TEOs.
It is intended that the new quality assurance system will support the overall concept of high trust and high accountability.
There is also an expectation that those aspects of the current system that are already working well will be retained and enhanced. It is intended that TEOs can continue to use their own systems and processes where these support the intentions of the move to an evaluation methodology.
The following sections outline in more detail the principles of the self-assessment, and external evaluation and review components of quality assurance.
'Self-assessment' (or 'self-evaluation' or 'self-review') here refers to the processes a TEO uses to establish evidence of its own effectiveness. The results of this process can then inform future planning, provide evidence to inform decision-making, and contribute to the actions taken to bring about improvement. Self-assessment is not limited to a one-off evaluative exercise prior to external review.
Self-assessment involves an organisation systematically evaluating how well it:
plans and manages, based on sound information and professional decision making;
determines and responds to stakeholder needs
attracts learners because of the quality of the teaching and the quality of the programmes provided
gets learners on the right pathway to succeed
manages the learning and assessment process
analyses learner and other stakeholder outcomes, including the valued added, and use this honest and transparent analysis to inform future programme design and delivery
determines the relevance of programmes to stakeholder needs
Ensures that learners progress to relevant and purposeful destinations.