This page covers:

  • Ensuring quality

  • Support for quality

  • Quality improvement

  • Quality control

  • Quality cycle

  • Quality systems

  • Quality assurance

  • Issues impacting upon quality

  • Inspectors, regulators and stakeholders

Ensuring quality

Ensuring quality is about having policies, systems and procedures in place to monitor and evaluate a product and/or a service. 

The product could be a programme; qualification; or a set of standards, and the service is everything which underpins the product and supports the learner.

The process of ensuring quality could be thought of as anything you do which can increase your organisation’s reputation, and achieve a positive outcome for your learners. It's also about anticipating the expectations of your learners and other relevant people involved in the process, to ensure that they can be met.

Most organisations will have a quality policy to ensure that their products and services are regularly monitored and reviewed. It is a statement of what the organisation expects to do to ensure quality.

Procedures will be put in place to ensure the policy is effective. There should be a quality manager to oversee this and to make sure that the organisation is compliant with all internal and external requirements.

Support for quality

  • Resources to support teachers and learners of the IQA qualifications can be found by clicking here

  • Information regarding quality assurance qualifications can be found by clicking here.

  • Online modules for IQA/EQA can be found by clicking here. Ideal for CPD purposes.

  • Videos for IQA/EQA can be seen by clicking here.

Quality improvement

Quality improvement is about having systems in place to continuously monitor and improve all aspects within an organisation, not just the products or services. For it to be effective, the systems are reliant on active participation from all staff at all levels.

Further education, skills and training organisations are accountable for the quality of their provision, and how any public money they receive is spent. This has led to changes in external regulatory processes and compliance, for example; the way external inspections are undertaken.

Continuous monitoring, self-assessment and evaluation activities will help an organisation to plan and implement internal quality improvement measures. This should lead to sustained and exceptional outcomes for staff, learners and other stakeholders.

Quality control

Quality control seeks to find problems, often after they have occurred, and usually takes place at the end of something, it is therefore reactive

This is the opposite to quality assurance (see below) which is an ongoing process to avoid problems before they occur, and is therefore proactive.

Quality control identifies problems, whereas quality assurance seeks to avoid problems.

However, the processes of quality control and quality assurance are both aimed at ensuring certain criteria are met, with a view to improving the products and services offered.

Quality cycle

A quality cycle will often cover activities which are in addition to, or which complement those which might occur as a part of the internal quality assurance process. 

However, all aspects of the quality cycle are relevant to the way an organisation which offers education, skills and training programmes should operate.

The cycle should include activities which will monitor and evaluate everything within an organisation which support learners and their learning. The activities should be based on what happens:

  • prior to a programme commencing

  • when planning the programme delivery

  • when the programme commences

  • as the programme continues

  • when the programme completes.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Quality systems

An organisation can create its own quality system, or base it on a recognised one such as the International Organisation for Standardisation (known as ISO). Quality systems should have measures in place to review and improve not only the products and services offered, but also the performance of staff and relevant stakeholders.

A good quality system will include:

  • a quality cycle

  • a quality manual (containing most of the items in this bullet list)

  • formal policies and procedures

  • standardised processes, practices and documentation

  • robust data management systems

  • internal auditing, reviewing and reporting processes

  • customer satisfaction surveys

  • staff appraisal system

  • self-assessment process

  • named people who have the responsibility for reviewing the above.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance seeks to avoid problems, stabilise, and improve products and services by monitoring them on an ongoing basis. It's about having systems in place to ensure that the teaching, learning and assessment processes are valid and reliable, and that they have been undertaken with integrity.

Quality assurance should take place in education, skills and training organisations to ensure that the products and services are the best they can be. The product is the programme; qualification; or set of standards that the learner is working towards. The service is everything which underpins the product and supports the learner.

If quality assurance does not take place, there are risks to the accuracy, consistency and fairness of training and assessment practice which might disadvantage learners. Quality assurance should be a continual process with the aim of maintaining and improving the products and services offered. This includes internal quality assurance and external quality assurance.

Issues impacting upon quality

There are many issues which could impact upon the quality of the products and services offered. For example:

  • internal pressures: lack of resources; unhelpful staff; targets; self-assessment process; internal audits

  • external pressures: stakeholders; regulators; external inspections; funding

  • expectations and assumptions of others

  • complaints and appeals

  • corruption; bribery; bullying; lack of trust or transparency; a blame culture; lack of staff training and support

  • policies and procedures i.e. a lack of understanding or minimal staff training

  • use of technology i.e. outdated equipment or a lack of staff training and support

  • staff not adhering to/or are not aware of the organisation's vision, mission and values

  • meetings where voices are not heard, or actions are agreed to but not followed up

If you feel there are things which are impacting upon you offering a quality product and service, you must talk to someone in your organisation. Remember, quality should be about being proactive rather than being reactive.

Click this link to access the latest Ofsted Further Education and Skills Inspection Handbook.

Inspectors, regulators and stakeholders

Inspectors, regulators and other relevant stakeholders for the further education, skills and training sector include:

* If regulated qualifications are offered, the awarding organisation must adhere to the Ofqual General Conditions of Recognition

  • Resources to support teachers and learners of the IQA qualifications can be found by clicking here.
  • Information regarding quality assurance qualifications can be found by clicking here.
  • Online modules which cover the content of the IQA and EQA units can be found here.
  • Videos for IQA/EQA can be seen by clicking here.