Overview of the Peer Review activity carried out on DTA

GTA England have conducted some 18 Peer Review activities providing a graded report and the identification of improvement opportunities for members to embrace within development plans. GTA England member, MECNW has actively supported two previous Peer Review activities, with Terry Weston, Skills Director, stepping in to lead the themed ‘audits’ on GTAs preparing for potentially imminent Ofsted Inspection. In the case of Derwent Training Association however, the situation was a little different and much more rewarding for all concerned. Derwent Training Association (DTA) had to give up its direct contract with the SFA due to its then low contract value. This meant that the last full Ofsted was carried out in 2006 where a Grade II was awarded. DTA welcomed the opportunity for a Peer Review as this would enable it to gauge where it stood against the latest Ofsted CIF, to which the review was aligned. DTAs case represented a different perspective on the benefits of PR to individual GTAs. DTA valued the access to experienced senior GTA England network staff to work in a constructive consultative capacity against pre- identified improvement opportunities in a GTAs provision. Acting as ‘critical friends’, this gave both parties, and the DTA staff involved at all levels, the opportunity to be very open and engaged in a very positive process. In advance of the Peer Review, a planning meeting involving John Brockett the Senior Executive at DTA and Terry had an open and honest discussion covering the company’s aspirations and potential obstacles to their achievement. In addition the opportunity to benchmark with the GTA England team’s collective experience on business practices such as financial costings and pricing structures, effective staffing caseloads, business efficiencies, and qualification delivery issues such as OTL and IV. Terry said, “It was apparent early on that DTA had lots of great things happening which would be really beneficial to the GTAE network in sharing good practice and innovative solutions to common problems such as recruiting for females in engineering; promoting higher Apprenticeships and the creative use of space in delivering as broad a range of programmes as employer demand dictates”. The team selection for the PR became clear as support for observing teaching practices, the internal verification of the competence based qualifications, the business development aspect of the Training Officer role, and MIS reporting was identified up front. Taking all of this into account, the balance of the team erred more towards experienced operational Reviewers including Martin Talbot, Training 2000’s Quality Manager, supported by Mark Maudsley and Terry. John Brockett stated, “We had 3 reviewers on site for 3 days and they carried out a full review of all aspects of our organisation. The feedback confirmed our strengths and weaknesses and the team offered advice and support on the corrective actions required. The whole experience was of great value to DTA”. He added “Since the Review, we have struck up a good relationship with Terry Weston of Maritime and Engineering College, who was the Lead Reviewer and we have had exchange visits,with more planned and we are looking to arrange for some of our apprentices to go over for a visit”.

With a new crop of Peer Reviewers successfully completing the assessment centre and led by Trevor Alley CEO SWDT as Peer Review co-ordinator (rated as Outstanding by OFSTED), bookings are now being taken for the autumn/winter peer review schedule.

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