College rolls out self-assessment

Newcastle-under-Lyme College has gone live with an online solution to streamline the self-assessment of its courses this summer

The system – ProSAR – has been developed by the College in partnership with software provider, Compass Computer Consultants (Compass), an Advanced Computer Software Group company.

ProSAR, which was launched by Compass earlier this year, is a web-based application, which runs on college intranets to allow staff, such as heads of departments, to evaluate the effectiveness of the courses they manage and develop action plans to improve performance. The solution is aimed at making the self-assessment process, which is key for Ofsted inspections, easier, quicker and more effective.

Further education institutions are required to complete an annual self-assessment review which is used to create action plans for improvement and forms part of the Ofsted inspection.

Newcastle-under-Lyme College, which has 3,500 full time students and 300 staff, developed its own in-house system in 2009 to streamline this process and overcome some of the obstacles that can arise, for example staff using varying sets of data. The system was also intended to reduce time-consuming administration associated with paper-based processes.

After using its own system for three years, the College collaborated with Compass to develop new functionality to improve the system further and to tailor it for use by the wider education sector. This resulted in the launch of ProSAR.

Compass enhanced the system to enable colleges to configure it to their specific needs with the ability to refine the questions for different members of staff. A customisable dashboard was also created to provide an instant graphical view of key performance indicators.

Martin Lawrie, Head of Learning and Quality Systems from Newcastle-Under-Lyme College, said: “With ProSAR in place, we will have access to a centralised online system which is fully compliant with Ofsted criteria. This ensures there is only ever one ‘version of the truth’. Those completing self-assessments are also reassured that they are using centrally validated data to make better informed decisions based on the College Inspection Framework.”

The ProSAR system provides intuitive reporting capabilities to display a teacher’s predicted success rate earlier in the academic year rather than waiting for exam results – which gives the College more time to implement action plans before the next academic year starts.

In addition managers can monitor the self-assessment process and compare performance against action plans to assist them with improving the quality of teaching and overcoming barriers to learning.

Lawrie added: “ProSAR will undoubtedly save us time by creating an easy and effective online process which eliminates unnecessary paperwork. Implementing the ProSAR system will help us to maintain and improve our success rates and will also be a vital contribution in preparing for future Ofsted inspections.”

The College also uses three other Compass solutions which facilitate the recording and analysis of lesson observations, the monitoring of students’ progress and the analysis of the College’s success, retention and achievement.

Compass was acquired by Advanced Computer Software Group in February of this year and is part of the group’s Business Solutions division.

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