While education and skills providers across the country will be looking at how they can meet the new Ofsted Common Inspection Framework that comes into force this September, one leading quality assurance software specialists believes it will not make a difference if a robust self-assessment already exists.
Louise Doyle, director of Mesma, says that the focus on self-assessment will remain core to the new framework but the challenge for many providers going forward will be to actually implement some kind of bonafide and robust self-assessment and improvement planning.
The framework changes include the introduction of a single common inspection framework for all early years settings on the Early Years Register, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers.
There will also be short inspections for maintained schools, academies and further education and skills providers that were judged good at their last full inspection – these will be conducted approximately every three years.
“We are going to see an even stronger push towards smarter ways of improving quality and then sustaining it in the face of ever tightening funding and central Government cuts.’
The move will also see significant changes to the inspection workforce with Ofsted contracting directly with inspectors for maintained schools, academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills inspections.
For providers who have robust quality assurance in place there is nothing to be concerned about says Louise Doyle, placing a strong onus on how education providers are forced to address issues such as quality and self-assessment, and improvement planning.
She says: “Along the length and breadth of the country, education providers are sizing up the likely impact the changes will have on their operations. They will be looking at whether or not existing policies and delivery are up to the task or asking if they have the processes in place to deliver requisite levels of quality to be ready for the new framework.
“We are going to see an even stronger push towards smarter ways of improving quality and then sustaining it in the face of ever tightening funding and central Government cuts. And this will inevitably see those with management responsibilities taking advantage of the benefits of cutting edge technologies to have to hand requisite information to ensure framework compliance.”
Louise Doyle says for niche specialists like Mesma this will open up further commercial opportunity. “Easy-to-use and cost efficient self-assessment and improvement planning like ours can provide benefits to education and inspection authorities as they look to establish new institutional review methods to assess the quality of training. We are particularly keen to work with schools that would like to open up their online self-evaluation to other providers for peer-to-peer review.
“Mesma’s further education clients already use this functionality under prime and sub-contractor arrangements. It has equal benefit to head teachers sharing information with other schools to allow for supportive scrutiny from peers that aren’t even necessarily in the same part of the country.
“We have already changed it structure to be reflective of the new CIF. In September we’re looking forward to releasing a new observation of teaching and learning module to support our client base even further.”
Using Mesma, relevant reports, policy documents, quality assurance processes and guidelines and other important documentation can all be stored on line in one place within the system for quick and convenient access and reference from any location. The system can also monitor activities allocated to other staff to track progress and completion.