1.1 Aims of the Consultation Phase
The aims of the consultation phase are outlined as follows:
To inform stakeholders of the approach to the development of the quality framework as adopted by the Steering Committee.
To facilitate and organise consultation meetings with stakeholder groups at centre and regional level which will inform the development of a quality framework for YOUTHREACH.
To identify a framework of standards for centres.
To explore the concept of internal and external evaluation of centres as it relates to an overall quality assurance process.
To test the implications of developing and evaluating standards with management practitioners and programme participants.
To collate the consultation findings and to make recommendations which will inform the development process.
1.2 Structure of the Consultation Phase
The consultation phase began in May 2001 and was concluded in January 2002. The National Co-Ordinators, Dermot Stokes and Gerry Griffin, together with Programme Development Co-Ordinator Shivaun O’Brien, engaged in consultation with stakeholders at three levels:
Centre based responses to report on exploratory phase.
Consultation with stakeholder bodies and associations.
Regional consultation meetings.
(i)Centres invited to respond to report on exploratory phase.
The report Towards a Quality Framework for Youthreach was circulated to all centres and stakeholder groups in May 2001. It was recommended that centre staff meet with local V.E.C. management and boards of management in order to formulate a response. In a number of regions several centres came together to engage in this process. Centres were provided with guidelines on how to engage with staff, trainees and management. The National Co-Ordinators provided funding to cover facilitation fees associated with the process. Forty-one centres responded to the report either on an individual basis or as part of a regional network.
(ii)Consultation with stakeholder associations.
Consultation meetings were held with various associations that represented stakeholder groups. A brief outline of the Quality Framework Initiative was presented at each meeting. Executive officers of the various associations were invited to respond. Generally meetings involved discussion where issues were raised and questions were answered. Stakeholder associations were further invited to participate in regional consultation meetings.
(iii)Regional consultation meetings
Nine regional consultation meetings were held during October – November 2001. During each of these, there was a meeting for centre staff and local management and a separate, parallel consultation workshop for trainees. Each regional meeting consisted of an initial presentation on the Quality Framework Initiative followed by feedback from centres on responses to the report on the exploratory phase and workshops.
The latter focused on examining a draft list of standards, how a centre might demonstrate that it has met an agreed standard, how stakeholders can integrate a quality assurance process into the way centres operate, and how this can be supported. During regional consultation meetings a possible model for quality assurance was proposed as a basis for discussion. This model assisted stakeholders in teasing out the implications of participating in a quality assurance process.
Attitudes towards quality change over time. This was evident from the nature of the discussion that took place at regional consultation meetings when compared to those which occurred in the exploratory phase. The consultation process has allowed stakeholders to explore for themselves what a quality assurance process might “look” like. This has lead to further clarification among stakeholders in relation to appropriate standards and evaluation procedures.
1.3 Participants in Consultation Phase
Meetings at Centre/ Local Level
The consultation phase began with meetings organised at centre and local level. In general, meetings of trainees, staff and management were facilitated externally. A member of staff facilitated separate meetings, which were held for trainees. A total of 21 written submissions were received involving 41 Youthreach and Senior Traveller Training Centres. Meetings at centre level involved the participation of chief executive officers, education officers, adult education organisers, regional co-ordinators, directors, co-ordinators, staff, trainees, youth development officers, administration staff, community employment staff supervisors and board of management representatives.
Meetings with Stakeholder Associations
Consultation meetings were held with each of the groups outlined below and generally involved the participation of a number of executive officers from each association. In addition an address on the Youthreach Quality Framework Initiative was made to the National Conference for Chief Executive Officers and Education Officers of Vocational Education Committees.
Irish Vocational Education Association
Association of Chief Executive Officers and Education Officers of Vocational Education Committees
Adult Education Organisers Association
National Association of Training Centres
National Association of Youthreach Co-Ordinators
National Association of Directors of Senior Traveller Training Centres
The Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science
The Teachers Union of Ireland.
Regional Consultation Meetings
Nine regional consultation meetings were held involving the participation of 310 individuals. Meetings at regional level involved the participation of chief executive officers, education officers, adult education organisers, regional co-ordinators, directors, co-ordinators, staff, trainees, youth development officers, National Association of Traveller Training Centres ( N.A.T.C.) youth workers as well as board of management and stakeholder association representatives.