London college merger turns to MESMA for quality assurance

The merging of multiple London colleges required a strong web-based management tool to ensure a straight-forward and effective process

Over the last three years Bromley College has undergone a number of transformations to secure the quality of FE provision in the local area, which has in turn seen it go on to complete mergers with Orpington, Greenwich Community and Bexley colleges to form London South East Colleges. 

The move has led to the creation of a college that today caters for more than 20,000 pupils studying for a wide range of vocational courses that lead to BTEC, NVQ, City & Guilds, and other specialist qualifications, as well as higher education courses validated by the University of Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church University

One of the most important considerations for the authorities and senior leadership team throughout the various mergers was maintaining effective quality assurance – indeed, it’s one of the biggest issues colleges are having to deal with as the FE landscape undergoes a radical shift in the face of the area reviews and other institutional changes. 

Through its investment in ‘intelligent’ software provided by online resource specialists MESMA, the college, which employs hundreds of teaching and support staff, has been able to maintain effective self-assessment practices as operational changes and business transformation processes have occurred, delivering the requisite standards of improvement planning, and aiding the quality assurance drive across four strategic campuses.

As a result, the college is also better prepared for inspections by Ofsted while the senior management team benefit from real-time access to critical information around its development plan at the touch of a button. 

A key feature of the MESMA software is its ability to deal effectively with the intricacies of the college’s development plan, which outlines the provision for curriculum development, pastoral care, sport, ICT, and administration among other aspects, to deliver an easy-to-use resource. This enables personalised accounts to be set up quickly and easily, and authorised staff to be notified automatically about assigned actions and tasks which need to be undertaken.  

MESMA in use at LSEC

Errol Ince, Assistant Principal for Teaching, Learning and Assessment at London South East Colleges, says:

“At Bromley College we had been using MESMA for a few years prior to the mergers. There, the technology had been helping staff to track self-assessment paths, assessing the progress of agreed actions and producing grade and data analysis reports among other uses.

“This undoubtedly aided the provision of a curriculum management quality. So, it was clearly important to maintain quality assurance levels as the mergers, latterly with Bexley and Greenwich Community College, started to take place. MESMA has definitely helped here.”

Errol says that the rapid merger with Greenwich Community College and Bexley Colleges presented some pressing challenges that had to be addressed quickly to also secure quality assurance.

“The College merger took place at pace, so we only had a short time to set-up teams with MESMA access and equip them with the requisite permission levels. This was challenging but thanks to the software’s intuitive, easy-to-use features, we were able to complete everything in under two months; which is quick for a large multi-campus site like ours.”

MESMA’s self-evaluation capabilities are extremely good adds Errol Ince, providing a head start to be fully prepared for Ofsted inspections, while its flexibility enables the team to meet the requirements of running a large campus. 

“The easy-to-understand summaries provide a clear view from a management perspective of where the college currently stands, and the direction that curriculum management is heading and quality assurance, at any single moment in time. This gives us greater control and the reassurance that tasks are being properly undertaken and completed on time. 

“I can see at a glance the evidence of achievement, actions implemented and the progress of the development plan, either in the college or accessing MESMA from a location elsewhere. Using the system also enables the senior management team to spot any potential problems or concerns and rectify them very quickly and easily.” 

The ease-of-use that lies at the heart of the software’s multi-function capabilities can also offer staff an engaging and intuitive tool for up-loading documentary evidence to confirm curriculum delivery and progress. For example, they can upload images and videos as supporting evidence and quality assurance collateral.

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