A great deal of research, listening and learning, debate, deliberation and documentation occurred over the exploratory and consultation phases. A number of recommendations are going forward to the next stage of the process. These recommendations reflect the opinions of the various stakeholder groups. The time has come for decisions to be made. What standards do we want? How best can these standards be described? How are centres to be supported in carrying out this work? Who will fulfil the external evaluation function?
The report on the exploratory phase recommended that the quality framework initiative progress along three phases, consultation, development and implementation. As stakeholders clarify for themselves what is appropriate, it is now becoming clear that the Development and Implementation phases may need to be further broken down into various sub phases in line with the current thinking.
What appears to be emerging is a quality framework that is, not surprisingly, analogous to others that exist in related areas of Training and Education. The School Development Planning Initiative and Whole School Evaluation Process, the Standard for Training and Development for People with Disabilities, the National Adult Literacy Agency’s evolving Quality Framework are all developed and structured in a similar manner and incorporate similar building blocks and processes. So too is the quality standard for programmes such as Jobskills Access developed by the Education and Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland
What must make the Quality Framework for YOUTHREACH and Senior Traveller Training Centres unique is that it will be developed by and will have the allegiance of all stakeholder groups and the standards, supports, and structure of the development planning and evaluation processes must reflect the circumstances of the centres. YOUTHREACH and Senior Traveller Training Centre staff work with some of the most educationally and socially disadvantaged learners within the education system. For too long the programmes that provided the education for such learners were also disadvantaged. This is an opportunity to ensure that the learners receive a quality education provision and that all key stakeholders are clear in relation to their responsibility in this regard.
3.2 Overall Recommendation
The quality framework should comprise four interconnected building blocks as outlined below.
At the centre of the framework is the Quality Standard – Good Practice Guidelines. The Quality Standard informs the three other elements of the quality framework. The quality assurance process involves a cyclical process of planning and development, internal and external evaluation.
3.3 Recommendations in Relation to the First Building Block: A Quality Standard – Good Practice Guidelines
The quality standard should identify the key elements of a YOUTHREACH and Senior Traveller Training Centre.
Standards should reflect good practice and should be in compliance with legislation and funding requirements.
The quality standard should not be unnecessarily prescriptive and should allow centres the flexibility to meet standards in a manner that is most appropriate to the individual centre and its participants.
Following the consultation phase representatives of all key stakeholder groups should be invited to participate in a synthesis process towards the development of an agreed common standard for all strands of the programme, in addition to outlining elements that may be strand specific.
When complete, the standard should have the allegiance of all stakeholder groups. This would require further consultation with stakeholder groups following the synthesis process.
Further support, resources, time and training should be provided so as to enable centres to achieve standards.
The agreed quality standard should be used as a tool to facilitate the internal centre planning and evaluation process and should also form the basis on which external evaluation would occur.
3.4 Recommendations in Relation to the Second Building Block: Centre Based Development Planning
A support service should be established which would provide advice and training for all centres in relation to centre development planning. This support service would develop the necessary resource materials such as guidelines for centres in relation to the development of a centre plan, procedures and policies as well as evaluation and review.
All relevant stakeholders should be involved as appropriate in the centre planning process. Part time staff should be paid for their involvement in this process.
As part of a planning and review process and in line with the quality standard, centres should identify areas for improvement. This should involve the identification of further training and resource needs as well as an outline of the actions to be taken.
Following the establishment of a support service a pilot centre-based planning process should take place including the participation from centres operating in a variety of settings.
Following an evaluation of the pilot process, all centres should be invited to establish a centre development planning process and be provided with the necessary supports and resources locally and at national level in order to carry out this work. Initially this should emphasise capacity building and should allow for planning and the development of procedures and documentation at both local and national level
Efforts should be made to keep the additional workload involved in documentation to a minimum.
3.5 Recommendations in Relation to the Third Building Block: Internal Evaluation
Internal evaluation should be based on the quality standard and the objectives set out in the centre plan.
Templates for paper based and computer based record keeping should be developed at national level that would assist the evaluation process.
Internal evaluation should occur on a regular (annual) basis and might only include the evaluation of certain aspects of the programme as set out in the centre plan.
Self-evaluation should become an integral aspect of work in centres. Internal evaluation should involve trainees, staff and management as appropriate. Part-time staff should be paid for their participation in the centre evaluation process.
The internal evaluation process should yield a report outlining recommendations to guide future planning.
Appropriate training should be provided at national level for facilitators who might assist centres with the internal evaluation process.
3.6 Recommendations in Relation to the Fourth Building Block: External Evaluation
External evaluation should be based on the criteria outlined in the agreed quality standard.
The Department of Education and Science should convene round table talks involving key players such as the Department of Education and Science Further Education Section, the Inspectorate, the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) and the National Co-Ordinators in order to decide on the body most appropriate to carry out the external evaluation function.
External evaluation should be carried out in a supportive manner, affirming good practice and pointing out areas for improvement.
Inspectors or assessors carrying out external evaluation should have relevant experience and knowledge of YOUTHREACH and Senior Traveller Training Centres and should receive appropriate training.
The external evaluation process may lead to an award by an accrediting body or alternatively may lead to the production of a report for centres which may assist them in future planning.
Procedures for external evaluation should be developed to include guidelines for the recruitment, training and code of conduct of assessors/ inspectors as well as the accreditation/ inspection process.
3.7 Recommendations in Relation to Future Developments
The quality framework initiative should progress along the lines outlined in the diagram below.
|REMAINING PHASES||PROPOSED TIMEFRAME|
|Synthesis Process||May- July 2002|
|Establishment of Support Service||September 2002|
|Pilot Centre Based Planning & Evaluation||September 2003|
|Centre Development Process||September 2004|
|Internal Evaluation Process||( to be decided)|
|External Evaluation Process||( to be decided)|
3.8 Further Recommendations in Relation to The Development Phase
The development phase should involve the development of a quality standard and principles of an accreditation system for YOUTHREACH centres, Senior Traveller Training Centres and Community Training Centres, noting areas that are strand specific and based on the recommendations of the consultation process.
Representatives of all the stakeholder groups should be invited to participate in the synthesis process.
A Support Service should be established.
Guidelines and resources for centre development planning should be developed.
Procedures for internal evaluation of centres by trainees, staff and management should be developed.
A mechanism and procedures for external evaluation and accreditation of centres should be developed.
The centre development planning and evaluation process should be piloted
A plan for the implementation phase should be agreed by the steering committee and notified to all stakeholder groups.
Consultation should occur with stakeholders following the development of the standard, internal evaluation procedures and mechanism for accreditation/ inspection in order to secure support for these developments and to provide an opportunity for further improvement.