Self assessment allows an institution to evaluate how well it is performing according to guidelines and standards. It also provides a measure of how well the needs of learners, employers and communities are being met.
There are different ways of achieving this in the four home countries.
Guidance on self assessment is available from the Learning and Skills Council in partnership with other organisations such as the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. There is a requirement for providers to undertake self assessment, and the primary responsibility for improving the quality of provision rests with the provider.
A self assessment report must be completed annually, and this provides a framework for evaluating all aspects of provision. A set of criteria against which to carry out the self assessment is provided.
In Scotland, all colleges carry out self-evaluation reporting based on a quality assurance framework published by HM Inspectorate of Education. This framework, ‘ Standards and Quality in Further Education: Quality Framework for Scottish FE Colleges’, is used for both internal self-evaluation and external review.
Quality elements in this framework include curriculum resources, processes and outcomes, leadership and quality management. Many colleges also use other quality frameworks to evaluate different aspects of their services.
Among these are Investors in People, which focuses on people management and people development, and Charter Mark - the UK Government's national standard for excellence in customer service. A small number of colleges also carry out self-evaluation using the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model.
The Department for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills provides a self assessment guide which includes information and guidance to help improve quality and raise standards.
There is also guidance which sets out requirements for providers to produce an annual self-assessment report and quality development plan. This self-assessment is the starting point for monitoring performance in the annual Provider Performance Review.
All further education colleges in Northern Ireland are required to carry out self-evaluation course and organisational reviews. This is the responsibility of the governing body of each college.
A document entitled ‘Improving Quality: Raising Standards’ is published by the Education and Training Inspectorate which outlines the purpose and process of inspections and the role of self-evaluation. To ensure quality standards in the delivery of programmes, all colleges have developed Internal Verification procedures.
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