The Quality Manual

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The Quality Manual



Issued: September 2002

     (College Charter updated Sept 04)

    Curriculum Office / Quality Manual 2002/3

    SECTION 1 The Quality Year

     Quality Assurance Strategy

    SECTION 2 Self Assessment Process

     Self Assessment Process

     Programme Review Document Proforma

     Programme Review Action Plan

     Curriculum Area Self-assessment Review Proforma

     Curriculum Area Self -assessment Report Proforma

     Self-assessment Development Plan Proforma

     AMER Programme Review Proforma

     Business Support Divisions Performance Review Proforma

    SECTION 3 Teaching Observations

     Cross-College Teaching Observations

     Observation of Teaching and Learning Note

     Monitoring Equal Opportunities in Teaching Observations

     Classroom Observation Form notes for guidance

     Workshop Observation Forms notes for guidance

     Teaching Observation Evaluation Questionnaire

    SECTION 4 Programme Validation

     Programme Validation

     Validation Process flowchart

     Statement of Intent

     Validation Checklist criteria for submissions

    SECTION 5 Programme Information

     Programme Manual (for Students)

     Programme File (for Staff)

     Scheme of Work

     Lesson Plan

     Individual Learning Agreement

    Curriculum Office / Quality Manual 2002/3

    SECTION 6 On-Programme Assessment and Verification

     Attendance Policy

     Assessment Policy

     Internal Verification Policy

     Internal Verification Documents

     External Verification

     Appeals Procedure

SECTION 7 Equal Opportunities

     Equal Opportunities Policy

     The Disability Statement

     Racial Equality Statement

SECTION 8 Student Achievement

     Student Performance Data

     Divisional Performance Table

     Process of Target Setting at NHC

     Setting Targets for Improving Student Achievement

SECTION 9 Surveys

     Learner Surveys

     Induction Review Survey

     On-entry Questionnaire

     Subject/Unit/Module delivery Questionnaire

     Unit Delivery Questionnaire (other Programmes)

     HE Learner Feedback Survey

     Resources and Support Questionnaire

     Effectiveness Survey

     Survey for Parents/Guardians of 16 year-old full-time


     Employer Questionnaire

SECTION 10 The College Charter

SECTION 11 Complaints Procedure

    Curriculum Office / Quality Manual 2002/3

    Section 1

     Quality Year

     Quality Assurance Strategy

    Curriculum Office / Quality Manual 2002/3

    The Quality Assurance Strategy is linked to a wider college management approach that is focused on improving communication channels, developing a supportive culture and investing in people.

The aims of the Quality Assurance Strategy are:

     To develop an increasingly rigorous analytical approach to quality assurance To produce strong and comprehensive statistical data on student performance,

    student satisfaction and charter standards

     To identify and implement strategies to improve retention and achievement To foster and maintain a culture of self-assessment and continuous improvement

    at all levels

     To work in partnership with others to promote quality in education and training To develop a strong service culture and standards in business support areas To review and improve feedback mechanisms for staff, learners, employers, sub-

    contractors and other stakeholders, including complaints analysis and handling


    The key elements of the strategy are the continuous improvements through self-assessment of academic standards, service standards, student achievement and student satisfaction. The activities underpinning these elements are shown in Appendix A.

    These are reflected in the organisation of Quality Assurance. As shown in Appendix B, the college has four separate groups monitoring the quality assurance of HE, adult and part-time provision including work-based learning and adult and community provision, 16-19 full-time provision and business support services. These report to the Academic Board which is responsible to the Senior Management Team and Curriculum and Quality Governors‟ Committee. This model interfaces effectively with the QAA, Adult Learning Inspectorate, LSC Quality initiatives and OFSTED.


    The prime responsibility for quality rests with the college. Self-assessment is central to the College‟s continuously improving provision. The self-assessment process, the

    production of an annual whole college report and associated College Development Plan is a requirement of the LSC and is a reference point for external inspection and review of the quality of the College‟s work.

The College‟s strategy for self-assessment reflects the focus of the Common

    Inspection Framework (CIF) and the requirements of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). It is bottom-up and top-down and involves staff at all levels, students, governors and key stakeholders. Details of the stages of the process are in the section “Self Assessment” (see Section 2).


    Within this area is the concern that the College must have regarding the rigour of assessment, the quality of teaching and learning and the appropriateness of curriculum design, content and organisation.

Standards will be concerned with the following:

External Verification

    External examination boards externally validate the vast majority of programmes run by the College. This provides a valuable external review of the academic work undertaken by the College. External verifier/examiner reports are normally produced and sent to the College indicating key action points if issues have been identified as a cause for concern. These should be circulated to the Principal, Director of Teaching and Learning, Head of Curriculum and Quality and the appropriate Head of Centre. A clear action plan for improvement should be produced by the Head of Centre and copied to the Head of Curriculum and Quality to ensure action has resulted from perceived weaknesses.

    A review of External Verifier reports and progress on action points should be included in Curriculum Area Managers‟ Self-Assessment reports.

Internal Verification

    Although a major focus of the quality assurance system must be concerned with assuring that the College‟s performance meets required external standards and taking action for improvement, internal assessment is still a key feature of vocational programmes. The College must ensure that academic standards are assured by rigorous and robust approaches to assessment, which are consistent, valid and reliable.

    All courses which have a large proportion of internal assessment should embed appropriate internal verification procedures, in accordance with the College Internal Verification Policy (see Section 6). College documentation should be used where possible, but it is recognised that this may need to be customised for particular needs, or to meet the requirements of an awarding body.

    The Policy will be reviewed annually and distributed via the College Intranet.

    The Curriculum and Quality Office has set up a system to audit a sample of courses at two census points each year and report findings to the Academic Board.

Programme Files

    Keeping good records is essential for effective course organisation. Each programme leader will keep a programme file that brings together documents for reference by course teams, managers and external inspectors/verifiers (see Section 5).

Programme Manual

    All learners should receive a programme manual at the start of their course. This will contain details of all the policies and procedures, information on costs, resources and requirements of the programme and other information about the programme (see Section 5).

Individual Learning Plan

    All learners have individual needs, which the College will strive to meet at all stages of the learner‟s programme. An individual learning plan provides the framework for individual identification and assessment of a learner‟s needs, ongoing review and

    negotiated re-assessment, with timely consideration of progression opportunities.

    The documentation which supports the plan will vary according to the type of learner and programme, but all learners should complete a Learning Agreement (see Section 5) which is held in the student file. If the Learning Agreement is subsequently amended, a copy should be sent to Student Records. Other documentation to support the individual learning plan may be found in the Tutor‟s Handbook for the appropriate Centre.

Scheme of Work and Lesson Plans

    Each programme will have a scheme of work which will clearly indicate the sequence of topics/elements within the programme/unit/module, the objectives of each session and the assessment programme.

    A lesson plan for each session will indicate the aims and objectives, resources and methods of teaching and learning, together with signposting of how differentiated learning will be addressed, accommodated and resourced during the session, i.e. for those needing learning support and those who need further challenges. Where possible an indication of the recognition and use of different learning styles should be indicated.

    College proformas for schemes of work and lesson plans are available on the College Intranet, but are not prescriptive and should be customised to meet the needs of individual groups of learners. A sample of schemes of work and lesson plans will be audited as part of the Lesson Observation exercise each year.

Team Meetings

    Good team working is an essential element in effective delivery of high quality learning programmes. Each course team should formally meet at least once per term to review course progress. Assessment, Internal Verification and External Verifier reports should be part of the agenda. The minutes of these formal meetings should be lodged with the Curriculum Area Manager. (It is recognised that many course teams will meet more frequently than this and that this represents good practice). Course team meetings should include learner representative/s to ensure their views regularly inform course development.

Programme Review

    At the end of each course there will be a process of programme review. This will be a summative review of the quality of the course programme. Normally, this would take place at the end of the summer term. The end-of-year survey (Effectiveness Survey) should be used by course teams to collect learners‟ views. A Programme Review Proforma should be utilised (see Section 2). A copy of the programme review should be sent to the Curriculum Area Manager to inform self-assessment.

Annual System of Lesson Observations

    The quality of teaching and learning will be assessed by an annual system of lesson observations by Curriculum Area Managers. This follows the approach used by OFSTED inspectors (see Section 3 : Lesson Observations). The focus will be on quality assessment rather than personal teacher development. A summary of key strengths and weaknesses for each curriculum area will be produced. This will contribute to a clear action plan for improvement for each curriculum area that will be reported in the annual self-assessment report.

    Class observations as part of the appraisal process which is focused on individual personal development, leading to staff development outcomes, whilst not included in this scheme, will provide a complimentary framework to improve teaching skills.

Internal Validation

    To ensure new courses within the College‟s portfolio are properly resourced, designed and planned, an internal validation event will be required.

    An Internal Validation Group chaired by the Director of Teaching and Learning will consider all new course applications. Careful consideration will be given to curriculum design, content and organisation (see Section 4). Approved programmes will be included in the College‟s course list for each academic year together with market need, financial viability and how it sits within the Curriculum portfolios.

External Inspection

    The College is inspected by LSC, OFSTED and QAA to assess the quality of provision. External inspection provides important benchmarks on performance quality against other sector colleges. The outcome of inspection will be formally disseminated to relevant Heads of Centre, SMT, Academic Board and College Governors. Normally an action plan will be required in the light of weaknesses identified in the curriculum areas concerned.


    The College provides not only teaching and learning but also service to potential learners, current learners, parents, employers and other customers. The national Charter for FE (DfES) lays down the requirements for colleges to provide information, advice, support and delivery standards pre-entry, on-course and exit.

College Charter

    The College has a Charter, which specifies the service provision that is offered by North Hertfordshire College. This provision covers the work of many of the support service teams such as Marketing, Learner Services, Guidance, Student Records, Finance, Examinations, Property, as well as the Academic Divisions (see Section 10).

Charter Standards

    Standards to meet the College Charter will be drawn up by each of the Business Support Divisions. These will be monitored on an annual basis by each of the relevant areas and reported to the Business Support Quality Committee.


    An essential element in the College Charter is the effective handling of complaints. The College has a complaints procedure which is widely disseminated to all staff, students and customers. The aim is to encourage an open discussion of issues to ensure that there is continuous improvement in standards where appropriate. Complaints that are not warranted will be dealt with robustly to ensure fairness to legitimate complainants. An annual analysis of complaints will be provided to Academic Board, Students‟ Union, and Governors (see Section 11).

Internal Service Standards

    Business Support Teams of the college are responsible for delivering an effective service to internal customers as well as external customers. Standards are set that enhance the service delivered to internal customers. These are regularly monitored and performance is reported in the annual self-assessment report produced by each support division.


    Continuous improvement in learner achievement is at the heart of the College‟s Quality Assurance Strategy. Clear and accurate assessment of performance linked to target setting is central.

Learner Performance Report

    The College publishes a comprehensive Learner Performance Report on an annual basis (December). This provides a course-based analysis of data related to learner recruitment, retention, attendance rates, achievement and destinations. The information is collected and collated centrally by the Research and Statistics team. All Curriculum Area Managers are required to ensure that the Examinations section holds examination evidence and that they undertake validation checks on centrally produced data before publication.

Target Setting

    All Curriculum Areas are required to formally review their student performance and set realistic targets for improvement.

    This exercise is normally initiated in September when most data is available. Targets are reviewed in February of the following year, and reported to the Director of Teaching and Learning. Review meetings between the managers of the Centre, Principal, Director of Teaching and Learning and Head of Curriculum and Quality, identify issues and actions for improvements.

    Targets are reported to and approved by the Academic Board, SMT and Governors.

    Agreed annual targets for retention and achievement are sent to the LSC each year.

In-year Reports

    Assessing in-year performance is also important to identify critical trends that may require management action. These performance indicators are as follows:

Enrolment against target

     Withdrawal analysis (November, February, May)

     Attendance analysis from a sample of courses

    Data will be provided for College Managers and Governors as appropriate.


Learner Perception Surveys

    These are carried out at suitable points during the year, in order to gather learner perception of their college experience at entry, on-programme and exit (see Section 10).

Learner Focus Groups

    These provide an opportunity to gather verbal views expressed by groups of learners selected from programmes, interviewed by a member of the Curriculum and Quality Office.

Learner Representation

    All programme groups should appoint learner representatives who will attend all or part of course team meetings to provide valuable feedback and raise concerns.

    Student Union representation on cross-college committees provide the learner perspective on issues discussed at meetings.

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