1. Merlin Supply Chain Solutions has a goal to achieve outstanding standards as a growing institution with a reputation for being innovative as well as employer- and learner-centric. One of our key ambitions is to maintain our trajectory, innovation and high performance, through the application of the vision set out in our strategic plan.
1.1 Consequently, to build on our accomplishments to date, Merlin Supply Chain Solutions Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) is focused on ensuring:
• We live our values, foster and nurture the culture needed to achieve excellence and continuous success, thereby realising our vision.
• We effectively self-regulate to annually maintain achievement rates at least 10% above national averages, along with high levels of stakeholder satisfaction and sustainable destinations for learners.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAINTAINING HIGH STANDARDS & BEST PRACTICE
2. Leadership at all levels is the primary agent of high standards. Consequently, every member of staff (commercial, support and academic) is responsible for the quality of the courses and services offered by Merlin Supply Chain Solutions.
Merlin Supply Chain Solutions QAF and associated Policies will involve all staff and partners:
3.1 The management of the process will occur within the existing organisational structure.
3.2 The Apprenticeship Manager has overall responsibility to collate and monitor self-assessment reports and action plans.
3.3 Quality improvement will be founded on a process of regular self-evaluation by teams and individual staff who are responsible for delivering courses and other services.
3.4 It will seek the views and perceptions of learners, employers and other stakeholders for whom the services of Merlin Supply Chain Solutions exist.
3.5 Wherever appropriate, this Policy will promote the identification of quality standards and performance indicators that are consistent with external body requirements such as those expected to be measured by Ofsted or other external review organisations and against which performance can be measured, evaluated and improved. We will endeavour to ensure that all processes model and implement the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF).
3.6 The Policy will support the processes of peer review both internally and with any external partners we involve ourselves with.
3.7 Wherever appropriate, and for external Awarding Organisations [AO], this Policy will promote the identification of quality standards and performance indicators that are consistent with those required by AO and against which performance can be measured, evaluated and so improved.
4. One of Merlin Supply Chain Solutions Goals is to maintain our trajectory to use industry practice for innovation and high performance. To this end, the aim is to ensure that through robust self-assessment our curriculums and services produce customer satisfaction and loyalty, staff are productive and motivated, and Merlin Supply Chain Solutions achieves its growth and success ambitions. Consequently, the purpose of our Quality Assurance Framework is to ensure these are achieved through three key approaches.
TOTAL QUALITY APPROACHES
5.1 Ambition for excellence: Through pragmatic approaches such as annual KPIs and innovations such as the adoption of the QAF, that bring transparency to best practice and high expectations. Ensuring excellent outcomes for learners through careful monitoring of learners’ progress which ensures good skills development, leading to positive destinations.
5.2 Exceed expectations every time: Through long term commitment to stakeholder voice, understanding stakeholder needs and never knowingly fail to provide the education, training and services needed to progress stakeholders. Empowering staff who are our greatest asset: Through meaningful and timely staff development and appraisal as well as open communication and a culture of team working.
5.3 Embedded reviews for continuous growth and improvements: Through effective and timely use and responsiveness to internal and external quality review processes. Fostering a systematic, people-centric, performance culture supported by values including collegiate working, transparency and inclusiveness.
PROCESS AND PROCEDURE
6.0 Merlin Supply Chain Solutions aim to achieve high standards through continuous improvement by implementing several processes and procedures, some of which are detailed in the appendices, to support the aims of this QAF, these include but are not limited to:
- Review Meetings
- Monitoring of Key Performance Indicators
- Stakeholder satisfaction processes
- The Complaints Policy and Processes
- Quality Audit Day
- Annual Self-Assessment Review (SAR)
- Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs)
- High quality Governance
- Quality Assurance of Teaching, Training and Assessment, Curriculum Deep Dives
- Standardisation and L&D Development meetings
APPENDICES: PROCESSES & PROCEDURES
1 – Quality processes
2 – Quality assurance of Teaching, Training and Assessment
3 – Stakeholder Satisfaction Processes
4 – Self-Assessment Reporting (SAR) and Quality Improvement Planning (QIP)
5 – Internal Verification (IV) Policy
6 – Spare
APPENDIX 1: Quality Processes
The Performance Review process has evolved to include Quarterly SMT meetings to Report to the Director. Throughout 2022/23 the Board of Governors will meet 9 times to formulate the structure of Governance within the provision.
Self-Assessment Reporting (SAR) and Quality Improvement Planning (QIP)
The SAR provides a tool for evaluating the quality of courses and services and for recording the evidence used to support judgements about quality. The SAR and QIP process is fully outlined in Appendix 5 and manage in MESMA. The Apprenticeship Manager regularly reviews the SAR & QIP, and with the Head of Training at least quarterly. All subsequent actions are sent to respective task holders. At the end of this process, the Apprenticeship Manager will prepare the SAR and QIP for review by the Board of Governors.
Course Results and monitoring
Apprenticeship course data is reviewed fortnightly as part of the Skills Coach Performance management report. These results are collated and reported during Quarterly meetings and Board of Governors meetings.
Employer/Learner/Skill Coach surveys
These are produced and sent out regularly as part of the quality calendar. Results are collated and analysed for patterns, and feedback is considered.
We benchmark ourselves against several external organisations published results and standards data, these include national organisation such as DVSA
Quality of Assessment
The Internal Verification Policy and Procedures outline Merlin Supply Chain Solutions’ commitment to the rigour of all assessment practices through identifying the requirements, roles and processes to be followed. These are reviewed and updated in line with Awarding Organisation expectations on a regular basis.
External Quality Assurance activity
In addition to the internal SAR, Merlin Supply Chain Solutions is takes part in External Quality Reviews or Audits as required by it partners and stakeholders. In most cases these are held annually and coordinated by the Apprenticeship Manager.
APPENDIX 2: Quality Assurance of Teaching, Training and Assessment
Observation of Teaching, Training and Assessment
High quality teaching, training and assessment (TTA) are central to securing the best outcomes for our learners. Merlin Supply Chain Solutions is committed to the delivery and facilitation of an ambitiously focussed learning experience that meets the needs of a diverse community of learners across a variety of programmes.
These high standards of expectation have been developed by Skills Coaches over the years of industry experience and excellence of performance.
As a part of our self-regulation, we are committed to ensuring the standard of TTA is in line with Company expectations. Merlin Supply Chain Solutions adopts a standardised yet flexible approach to continuously improving TTA. This involves a range of OTTA observation strategies, such as;
- Apprenticeship Manager involvement in Skill coach recruitment
- Observation of new Skills Coaches by the Apprenticeship Manager
- Peer observations
- Lesson visits
- Timely SMT Learning Walks
- Themed observation/Deep Dives
Lesson visits to new Skills Coaches are conducted by the Apprenticeship Manager and normally take place within four to six working weeks of the individual’s start date. The Skill coach will be notified by email of the lesson to be visited at least one week prior to the visit taking place, although the aim is to notify the individual two weeks before.
All Skill Coaches will be formally assessed by means of an OTTA and Caseload Deep Dive at least annually. The Skill Coach will be informed no later than one week prior to the observation, although, the typically two weeks’ notice is the standard. Once the Observation has taken place the Skill Coach will have formal written and verbal feedback on the findings delivered with a further ten days. Grades available for OTTA and Deep Dive are:
Good (Green) – minimum quality standard
Requires Improvement (Amber)
The minimum expected standard for OTTA and Caseload Deep Dives are graded Good or Green. Where the minimum standard is met during observation (Good / Green or better) the Skill Coach will not be reassessed for the remainder of that year. If the standard is below minimum, a reassessment will be discussed and implemented with the Skill Coach, as set out below:
- Requires improvement (Amber) – feedback, and if necessary, an action plan, detailing any support and interventions will be given during the formal feedback review with the IQA, Apprenticeship Manager or HoT. A re-observation of OTTA will occur within six weeks, with a view to achieve minimum standard. For a caseload Deep Dive, specific feedback and an Action Plan will be agreed, with no correction scheduled beyond 12 weeks. If the next observation meets the minimum standard no further action will be taken. Where the minimum standard is not reached on re-observation or during a subsequent deep Dive, an Informal Performance management process will be undertaken to establish reason for substandard performance. Individual advice, guidance and support will be given to bring the performance back to expected standard, and the Skill Coach will be formally observed within twelve weeks. If the Skill Coach returns to the minimum standard, then they will move back to the usual observational cycle. If progress to minimum standard is not made, then a formal performance management process will begin.
- Inadequate (Red) – where performance is found to be inadequate, the Skill Coach will be notified immediately, verbally and in writing and requested to attend a meeting within seven days. Reasons for the inadequate performance will be discussed promptly. All subsequent TTA activity will be overseen by senior member of staff such as an IQA or Apprenticeship Manager. Depending on the outcome of the discussion several steps may be taken. Feedback, and if necessary, an action plan, detailing any support and interventions will be given during the formal feedback review with the IQA, Apprenticeship Manager or HoT. A re-observation of OTTA will occur within six weeks, with a view to achieving the minimum standard. For a caseload Deep Dive, specific feedback and an Action Plan will be agreed, with no correction scheduled beyond 6 weeks. If the next observation meets the minimum standard no further actions will be taken. Where the minimum standard is not reached on re-observation or during a subsequent deep Dive, an Informal Performance management process will be undertaken to establish reason for substandard performance. Individual advice, guidance and support will be given to bring performance back to expected standard, and the Skill Coach will be formally observed within twelve weeks. If the Skill Coach returns to the minimum standard, they will be re-observed within 12 weeks before returning to the usual observational cycle. If progress to minimum standard is not made, then a formal performance management process will begin.
The annual lesson observation cycle is planned and reviewed by the Head of Training in consultation with the Apprenticeship Manager. The Apprenticeship Manager working with the Sector IQA’s provide an expert and independent view of the quality of teaching and training across Merlin Supply Chain Solutions.
The Apprenticeship Manager will organise all Deep Dive / Thematic Review activity, in conjunction with the Head of Training at least annually. All Skills Coaches are encouraged to take part in self-/peer-assessment as part of their self-development activity.
The purpose of this multi-faceted strategy is to:
· Maintain a culture of excellence through fostering self-reflection and leadership at all levels
· Provide rigorous checks on quality
· Identify areas of excellence and areas for improvement / ensure TTA is at least sound
· Trigger support through training and coaching
The quality of lesson visits and lesson visit feedback is standardised through lesson observation training.
The documentation used to record observations is held on the Merlin Supply Chain Solutions, Apprenticeship drive in the Quality folder and informed by the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework. The Lesson observation reports are moderated before being sent to individual Skills Coaches and their managers. These reports inform the focus of TTA development for the individual Skill coach and the SAR and QIP.
APPENDIX 3: Stakeholder Satisfaction Processes
The views of all stakeholders are essential to the assessment of quality and to the instigation of improvements. Merlin Supply Chain Solutions actively engages stakeholder feedback through multiple channels on an ongoing basis. Merlin Supply Chain Solutions is committed to acting on feedback in a timely manner to improve quality for existing and future learners, employers and stakeholders.
Learners and Apprentices:
- Surveys – Induction, Safeguarding, National Student Surveys, Apprentices Learner Satisfaction Survey and internal Learner voice forums.
- Formal Evaluation – individual module; end of course.
- Informal Evaluation – Learners provide informal feedback to teaching and tutorial staff throughout their studies. Such comments provide an immediate form of feedback upon learner satisfaction with the course, and it is important that Skills Coaches and managers act upon this feedback and provide clear responses to issues raised.
- Apprenticeship Service Employer Satisfaction Survey
- Trailblazers and AELP Industry awareness groups
- Learning reviews, Progress reviews
- Business services engagement and contract meetings
- Staff Development Evaluation
- Bi-annual appraisal process
- Standardisation meetings
APPENDIX 4: Self-Assessment Reporting (SAR) and Quality Improvement Planning (QIP)
The SAR provides a tool for evaluating the quality of courses and services and for recording the evidence used to support judgements about quality. The SAR structured in line with the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF):
- Quality of education
- Behaviour and attitudes
- Personal development
- Leadership and management
The SAR informs the QIP structure. Areas of weaknesses identified in the SAR are transferred into the QIP. Key actions and KPIs are then identified and reviewed throughout the academic year to improve the quality of a course or service.
The diagram at figure 2 (below) indicates the processes for producing SAR & QIP.
Governors’ Approval SAR & QIP
Head of Training approval of SAR & QIP
SAR & QIP Annual review
Learner outcomes – Achievement data, attendance
Apprentices’ evaluations – Induction, Mid-course, End of course, Exit reviews
Learner voice survey – lessons, meetings, surveys
Session observations – IQA, Apprentice manager, EQA, SMT, Peer
Employer survey – Surveys, Management/Review meetings
Staff survey – Course evaluation, Surveys, IQA activity
External – EQ/EV Visits, Ofsted, DfE, Governor Reports
Progress – KPIs, QIP
It is the responsibility of Apprenticeship Manager to prepare a summary SAR & QIP using key quality data. Data will be gathered throughout the academic year to ensure that Merlin Supply Chain Solutions recognises its strengths and weaknesses and can implement actions to secure improvement.
The SAR & QIP will be completed by an agreed date early in the new academic year and will be uploaded onto the MESMA platform. As such it will continue to be a continuous improvement document
The Programme Area SARs draw upon all available evidence to arrive at judgements about quality.
Figure 2 outlines the evidence or ‘quality data’, which should be used.
Course teams will draw on evidence from a range of sources to inform their judgements about quality.
These will include:
- Observations of TTA
- Learner outcomes (knowledge and skills development, qualifications, progression and destinations)
- Stakeholder feedback
- Internal & External quality review
- Performance management review
A QIP is then completed which identifies actions to be taken to develop identified areas for quality improvement. Actions identified in the QIP should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-limited) and be allocated to individuals within the delivery team.
Progress against the QIP is regularly reviewed and updated by Apprenticeship Manager throughout the academic year and overseen by the Governors in their regular meetings.
APPENDIX 5: Internal Verification (IV/IQA) Policy
Merlin Supply Chain Solutions aims to ensure that all teaching, training and assessment is of the highest standard, ensuring reliability, validity and objectivity. All Skill Coaches and assessors are required to follow the specific assessment methodology and guidance provided by the relevant Awarding Organisation/Professional Body for the qualification they are delivering. This includes completing and keeping up to date with relevant training and assessor qualifications as required.
On courses where we are the awarding organisation, a system of RARPA (Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement) will be applied through assessing achievement against individual and/or group learning goals.
Internal Verification provides a continuous check on the consistency, quality and fairness of marking, grading and the overall assessment of learners’ work to ensure that assessment decisions meet the standards required by Merlin Supply Chain Solutions and by awarding bodies. It is a continuous process that starts with the verification of the assessment task, continues to the final judgment about the grading and encompasses all forms of activity that check and validate assessment, including those set down by awarding and examining bodies.
Any assessment that contributes to the achievement of a qualification will fall within the scope of this policy and associated procedures.
- To ensure that all learners are fairly, accurately and regularly assessed in a consistent manner, in accordance with awarding body requirements.
- To ensure that valid assessment decisions are reached for all learners and that external requirements are fully met.
- To establish quality assurance mechanisms through a system of internal verification, which co-ordinates and monitors the assessment process.
- To meet the requirements of awarding bodies, ensuring consistent interpretation and application of national and awarding bodies’ standards.
- To provide support and advice to assessors.
- To provide evidence and feedback to the Head of Training and External verifiers on the internal verification process.
- To ensure that candidates are satisfied with the assessment process.
- Requirements of internal verification
- Every programme with work that is internally assessed and contributes to the final assessment outcome of a student must carry out internal verification in accordance with Company and awarding body regulations.
- All internal verification must be carried out by appropriately qualified staff.
- Internal Verification must be carried out continuously throughout the year.
- Any evidence that is produced must meet the requirements of the awarding bodies and Merlin Supply Chain Solutions quality expectations and be recorded on appropriate documentation, which considers the requirements of awarding bodies and Merlin Supply Chain Solutions quality expectations.
- Assignment briefs, examinations and lists of knowledge questions must be verified before they are issued.
- Internal Verification must take place before assessment decisions are finalised and learners notified.
- Evidence that internal verification has taken place must be available for monitoring by Head of Training or Board of Governors if requested.
Operational guidelines for internal verification of these guidelines cover all forms of assessment – including the knowledge, skills and behaviour elements of apprenticeships.
There will be at least one Internal Verifier per sector/industry area (where possible).
Internal verifiers must be appropriately qualified and possess any requirements for occupational expertise as specified by relevant standard setting bodies.
Decisions made by unqualified, in-training or inexperienced assessor / internal verifiers (i.e., staff with less than 1 year’s teaching experience) will be countersigned by a qualified internal verifier.
The role of the Internal Verifier
- Internally verify assignment briefs, examinations, lists of knowledge questions and assessments to ensure consistency in the coverage of the syllabus and interpretation of standards.
- To sample evidence of assessment decisions made by assessors on an ongoing basis throughout the year, ensuring consistent and reliable assessment of internal verification decisions. Evidence should be confirmed as valid, authentic, reliable, current and sufficient in quantity.
- Establish recording systems/documentation for assessment and internal verification.
- Establish an inventory of current documentation and examples of completed documentation for the guidance of new assessors.
- Support assessors by giving feedback and advice on a regular basis, identifying problems and areas requiring advice/development.
- Undertake appropriate in-house internal verification training.
- Have their work internally verified by a different member of staff, if they are an assessor as well as an Internal Verifier.
An internal verification sampling plan will be drawn up in conjunction with the programme assessment calendar. Standard Company and internal verification documents will be used.
The plan will ensure that Internal verification of assignments / assessed work is carried out on an on-going basis throughout the year; that all assignment briefs (or equivalent) are internally verified before being issued and that a minimum of 10% from each assessor, of completed assignments / assessed work per unit are internally verified (It may be necessary for the sample to be larger to ensure that all units, all assessors and all units are sampled at least once during the course of the year).
Internal verifiers will feed back their decisions promptly to assessors on the appropriate forms.
Revisions/recommendations will normally be implemented within 10 working days.
External Verifier visits to Merlin Supply Chain Solutions are an integral part of an awarding body’s quality assurance strategy. The normal frequency of external verification visits to Merlin Supply Chain Solutions is annually.
The External Verifier usually informs Merlin Supply Chain Solutions in advance of any visit, to agree the scope of the visit and the verification and sampling activities that will take place. Merlin Supply Chain Solutions is obliged to comply with requests made in respect of access to premises, records, information, candidates and staff.
External verification reports
Feedback on visits will be made via a written report, which will highlight areas of good practice, as well as any action required where performance does not meet the requirements.
The Apprenticeship Manager is responsible for devising timely action plans to address any areas for improvement.
All External Verification reports must be shared with the SMT and Board of Governors following the receipt of the report.
We will note areas of good practice and update the SAR and QIP.
Copies of records will be stored safely and accessibly in line with company GDPR procedures for a minimum of three years.
All candidates will be registered via the Apprenticeship Coordinator.
APPENDIX 6: Spare
Version 6 / Control date: 20 July 2023 / Policy author(s) Staurt McDonagh / Review date; 19 July 2024