Just 11 months ago, Ofsted inspectors went into Berkshire independent learning provider B2B Engage and judged its provision to be satisfactory. The grading triggered a host of improvements that, as B2B’s operations director Rebecca Yeomans explains, resulted in an improved grading following a September inspection.
B2B wasted no time acting on the areas of improvement that were identified at our previous inspection of August 2011.
We held monthly quality meetings with input from a quality consultant to maintain the momentum of improvements, and it paid off in our subsequent inspection 11 months later.
We had been informed of the new Ofsted inspection via the two-day notice period on Thursday, September 13.
In order to maximise the scope of provision inspected, B2B provided the inspectors with a schedule of activities during the week of inspection.
But due to the nature of work-based learning, and the short notice of the inspection, it wasn’t possible to prepare a slick schedule for the inspectors (as we had when we had three weeks’ notice).
We were therefore advised to offer alternative observation opportunities for the inspectors that included activity such as the inspector shadowing a learner for a morning.
However, we emerged with a good grading having implemented a series of improvements following the previous inspection.
We began our improvement journey by implementing a more robust quality assurance (QA) schedule.
With a network of 10 subcontractors, B2B had to ensure QA activity which was targeted at both direct and subcontracted delivery.
Firstly, we trained senior managers as observers of teaching and learning practices, as well as renewing our observation policy and procedure.
We then prioritised a schedule of teaching and learning observations to identify what was happening first hand in the field.
By targeting the tutors and assessors that have direct contact with our learners, we were able to impact on delivery quickly.
Through conducting and moderating the observations, it became clear what areas of improvement and training needs were required among staff.
B2B also revised its subcontractor audit procedures, combining both quality and paperwork audits into one.
By merging the audits into a ‘mini Ofsted inspection’ format, we were able to get a better picture of how quality and compliance worked together, and how subcontractors were performing in all areas.
We then planned a schedule of quarterly training days for direct staff and subcontractors.
For direct staff we concentrated on specific elements of the learner journey, revisiting induction and initial assessment procedures, formal progress reviews, as well as teaching and assessment practice.
These included setting smart [specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely] targets, lesson planning and embedding key and functional skills.
For subcontractors, we provided a series of sessions on how to self-assess, quality expectations of B2B and how to improve the learner journey.
By training subcontractors on how to self-assess, we were able to show them how to identify their own areas which needed to be improved and what they could do to improve the quality of their own delivery and service. This was a driver for getting each and every subcontractor on board.
A further area for improvement was the regular use and analysis of data to allow informed judgements and progression on success and performance.
Although data was always analysed, it was not used sufficiently and effectively and was often something not all managers and subcontractors were aware of.
The review of data was therefore added to the agendas of all one-to-ones and team meetings, from senior management to team meeting level.
Further data was also requested of staff and subcontractors to track the progress of every learner. Progress data could then be analysed to identify ‘at risk ‘learners etc. These measures could be put in place to support achievements of that learner.
Rebecca Yeomans, operations director at B2B Engage and quality nominee during inspection