Feature Article: How to create a holistic self-assurance model for your RTO

RTOs face a daunting challenge in implementing a self-assurance approach that seamlessly addresses compliance, quality, and continuous improvement. They are confronted with a complex web of regulatory requirements and rising stakeholder expectations that must be met to diligently safeguard their licence to operate. Striking a delicate balance between fulfilling compliance obligations, upholding quality standards, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement is a struggle that demands a mindset of commitment and adaptability. 

The solution lies in devising a comprehensive, holistic self-assurance model that combines an extensive quality framework, fosters a culture of quality and innovation, actively engages stakeholders, utilises advanced technology, and champions continuous improvement. By adopting these strategies, RTOs can not only ensure the highest standards of quality and compliance but also continually adapt to the ever-changing landscape of VET in Australia. 

The following advice suggests how to create an effective self-assurance model for your RTO that will integrate and operationalise your compliance, quality and CI systems and processes.

Develop a Comprehensive Quality Framework:

Establish a comprehensive quality framework that outlines the RTO’s vision, mission, values, and strategic objectives. Ensure that the framework addresses compliance with regulatory requirements, best practices, and continuous improvement.

Create a Culture of Quality and Innovation:

Encourage a culture of quality and innovation by empowering employees to participate in decision-making, share their ideas and drive continuous improvement. Engage CEOs in promoting this culture and fostering a supportive learning environment.

Establish a Robust Risk Management System:

Implement a proactive risk management system that identifies, assesses, mitigates and monitors risks associated with compliance, quality, and continuous improvement. This system should be integrated into the RTO’s strategic planning and decision-making processes.

Embrace Digital Transformation:

Leverage the latest technologies, including learning management systems, data analytics tools, and artificial intelligence to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your RTO’s processes. Implement a comprehensive digital transformation strategy to stay ahead of industry trends and ensure the RTO remains competitive.

Collaborative Stakeholder Engagement:

Engage with key stakeholders, including students, employers, industry bodies, and regulators, to gather feedback and insights into the RTO’s performance. Use this information to drive improvements and enhance the overall quality of the RTO’s services.

Implement a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Program:

Promote lifelong learning for all staff members by implementing a robust CPD program. Encourage employees to upskill and expand their knowledge, aligning with industry trends and compliance requirements. Offer incentives, such as training subsidies or paid leave, to motivate employees to engage in CPD.

Invest in Quality Assurance and Compliance Teams:

Support and invest in your quality assurance and compliance teams. Provide them with the necessary resources, training, and autonomy to effectively monitor, review, and improve processes. Encourage collaboration between these teams and other departments to create a shared understanding of quality and compliance expectations.

Introduce a “Learning Lab” Concept:

Create a “learning lab” within the RTO, where innovative ideas and practices can be tested and refined before full-scale implementation. This will foster a culture of experimentation, continuous improvement, and adaptability.

Adopt a Data-Driven Approach:

Utilize data analytics and performance metrics to monitor the RTO’s performance, identify trends, and pinpoint areas for improvement. Establish clear key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the RTO’s strategic objectives, compliance requirements, and industry benchmarks.

Reward and Recognize Excellence:

Implement a reward and recognition program that acknowledges the achievements of staff members and teams who contribute significantly to the RTO’s quality, compliance, and continuous improvement efforts. This will boost morale, motivation, and commitment to maintaining high-quality standards.

Other feature articles:

An RTO compliance managers guide to leadership

How can compliance and quality functions work together in an RTO?

Who is responsible for quality and compliance in your RTO?

Why you need to focus on your RTOs customers not compliance

How to build a culture of quality in your RTO

Why compliance does not equal quality in your RTO’s training and assessment

How to use systems to manage your RTOs self-assurance effectively

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/how-we-regulate/self-assurance/building-shared-understanding-self-assurance

https://www.dewr.gov.au/skills-reform/skills-reform-overview/quality-reforms

https://www.asqa.gov.au/rtos/focus-compliance

https://www.asqa.gov.au/rto/responsibilities

Feature Article: How to ensure that your RTOs assessment practices are compliant

Feature Article: How to ensure that your RTOs assessment practices are compliant

RTOs need processes in place that drive consistency, fairness, accuracy and reliability in assessment practices. You should systematically conduct reviews of completed student assessments using a sampling approach that checks if assessment is conducted appropriately. Implementing robust quality assurance measures focused on compliant assessment practices will result in increasing the quality of assessment and ultimately student and industry outcomes for your RTO. The following advice suggests ways your RTO can evaluate that your assessment processes meet the requirements of the SRTOs 2015.

Validation of assessment practices and judgements:

All RTO’s must undertake validation of assessment practices and judgements to comply with Clause 1.9 – 1.11 of the SRTOs 2015. ASQA’s defines validation as the quality review of the assessment process. Therefore, it is conducted after assessment has been completed. Validation involves checking that the assessment tool/s produce/s valid, reliable, sufficient, current and authentic evidence to enable reasonable judgements to be made as to whether the requirements of the training package or VET accredited courses are met. It includes reviewing a statistically valid sample of the assessments and making recommendations for future improvements to the assessment tool, process and/or outcomes and acting upon such recommendations. According to ASQA validation helps ensure that your RTO’s training and assessment practices are relevant to the needs of industry. In validating a qualification on scope, RTO’s are required to validate the assessment practices and judgements from a sample of the units of competency within that qualification. At least two units of competency should be sampled when validating a qualification as suggested by ASQA. You may expand the number of units to validate at any time during the validation process, particularly when validation outcomes indicate that assessment judgments are not valid.

Moderation

Moderation is a quality control process aimed at bringing assessment judgements into alignment as defined by ASQA. Moderation is generally conducted before the finalisation of student results as it ensures the same decisions are applied to all assessment results within the same unit of competency. Your may consider implementing a process within your RTO of moderating all assessments conducted for high risk delivery areas such as programs delivered by third parties for example.

Student file audits:

Another way to ensure assessors are being consistent in their assessment practices is to implement routine student file audits to compliment validation activities and target courses of on-going concern or high risk. The focus of these audits should be on common issues or known areas of concern such as:

  • Ensuring assessors use correct and approved versions of assessment tools 
  • Verifying that all assessment tasks have been completed by learners
  • Confirming that assessors are keeping accurate and complete student records
  • Checking that your assessors are marking in line with benchmark answers and marking guides and issuing correct results

Systematic and planned checks of completed student assessments is an effective method in monitoring your RTO’s continuing compliance with the SRTOs 2015

Targeted training and development for assessors: 

The outcomes of your validation, moderation and student file audits should provide reliable data and a good indication of systemic issues relating to your RTOs assessment practices. From those findings you can determine what professional development needs assessors may have and develop a targeted approach to providing suitable training and development to build their capacity. For example, your RPL assessors may need some additional coaching or mentoring in RPL processes, collection of sufficient RPL evidence and recording their judgements appropriately.

Other feature articles:

Four easy ways to avoid mistakes with your RPL services

9 expert tips for preparing for validation of assessor judgement activities

A quick way to deal with non-compliances in your assessments

Cheat sheet for validating assessments prior to use

Common compliance mistakes every RTO makes   

References: 

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/videos/video-understanding-assessment

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019C00503

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/fact-sheets/conducting-validation

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment

Feature Article: Why you need to validate your training and assessment strategies

Feature Article: Why you need to validate your training and assessment strategies

It is important for your RTO to undertake regular checks of TAS’s and ensure you maintain records of those reviews. Maintaining version control of your TAS documents is a critical component of good record-keeping and quality assurance. The outcomes of your reviews will inform you as to what improvements and changes you need to make for the next delivery instance. You should ensure you have a TAS in place for each training product on scope and unique student cohort. RTOs should consider any recent changes to specific training packages; industry technology and techniques or legislation when determining if a TAS needs updating. Your RTO should also update TAS’s to reflect any staffing changes so they are reflective of your current delivery arrangements. Here are some tips for implementing validation processes for your strategies.

Developing TAS: 

Using a well-designed, practical checklist as a reference when developing your TAS’s ensures the most critical and important steps are not missed in the process. Checklists ensure self-accountability for the staff responsible for creating the documents and overall consistency in the process across your organisation. Use our TAS validation checklist available for free download should your staff want to implement this in your RTO.

Monitoring TAS:

Your RTO should have strategies in place to monitor and evaluate training and assessment strategies and practices. This could include internal audits, quality reviews and health checks. Ideally you should have a plan and schedule that identifies when you are going to carry out these activities so you can resource it appropriately. The outcomes of your checks will inform you as to what improvements and changes you need to make to RTO processes. Ensure you include a focus on high risk areas such as third party arrangements so you regularly monitor the quality and compliance of these services being provided by your partners. Use our TAS validation checklist to capture data from your quality checks so you can confirm your compliance status.

Reviewing TAS:

It is important to ensure you maintain comprehensive records of the reviews of your training and assessment strategies and practices so you can evidence systematic improvements made to processes within your organisation. Management is accountable for ensuring the quality of training and assessment of RTO programs. Therefore, it is important that your RTO has an approval process in place before each TAS is implemented in your organisation. The TAS validation checklist can be used before approving a TAS to confirm all the critical information has been included. Having this management oversight will ensure the documents are consistent with your RTO’s actual training and assessment strategies and practices.

Self-assurance systems

RTOs must systematically monitor training and assessment strategies and practices to comply with Clause 2.2 in the SRTOs 2015. This requires RTOs to have processes in place to evaluate products and services and using feedback to improve its strategies and practices. RTO’s therefore must have effective systems in place to ensure quality checks of compliance documents are part of their quality assurance framework.  Reviews of TAS’s at regular intervals should be carried out to determine their effectiveness and implementation in the RTO.  Having a documented schedule of quality checks undertaken on TAS’s provides valuable evidence and ensures your RTO is sufficiently prepared in the event of an ASQA audit.

Other feature articles:

Tips for creating a compliant training and assessment strategy (TAS)

The 5 essential components of your TAS’s staffing matrix

Quick guide for determining the right amount of training in your TAS’s

Key benefits of conducting regular quality checks of your training and assessment strategies and practices

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.1-to-1.4-2.2

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/general-directions/resourcing-requirements-initial-registration-or-change-scope

https://www.asqa.gov.au/distance-learning/training-and-assessment

Feature Article: How to prepare your CEO declaration in less than 60 days

Feature Article: How to prepare your CEO declaration in less than 60 days

ASQA will soon be sending electronic correspondence to the person legally responsible for the registration of the RTO i.e. the Chief Executive Officer reminding them of their obligation to comply with ASQA requirements by submitting a declaration on compliance before 31 March. The email is typically distributed a month prior to CEO’s containing a unique URL to the RTOs survey. Another reminder email is also usually sent by ASQA to CEO’s in March before the due date. Here is some advice to help you prepare your response appropriately so you can ensure you comply with the requirements and meet your regulatory obligations.

Table of Contents

Check your records for accuracy:

Data and your self-assurance system:

How to prepare your response:

Other feature articles:

References:

Check your records for accuracy:

RTOs are required to adhere to Clauses 2.1; 8.1; and 8.4 in the SRTOs 2015 in relation to compliance obligations and reporting. These requirements include ensuring any changes to RTO ownership or governance arrangements are reported to ASQA within 90 days of events happening. RTOs should ensure details in ASQAnet have been checked and any errors with contact details corrected prior to ASQA sending their email next month.  Remember that not receiving the email is not an excuse to fail to submit your RTO’s declaration as it is a requirement of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (SRTOs) 2015. If you haven’t updated your RTO’s information in a timely fashion you are ultimately accountable if you don’t comply with your reporting obligation. Failure to report full and accurate data to ASQA could result in them taking regulatory action against your RTO.

Data and your self-assurance system: 

In order to adhere with the requirement to be compliant with the SRTOs 2015 at all times, RTOs must have self-assurance systems in place for monitoring obligations including internal audits, quality reviews, complaints and appeals processes, validation processes and feedback mechanisms. If your organisation has adhered to Clause 2.1 by ensuring it is compliant with the SRTOs 2015 at all times you should have been ‘systematically’ monitoring the RTO’s systems and processes and have analysed the data obtained from your self-assurance activities. CEO’s need to ensure that their responses in the declaration are honest and accurate, whether you complete the declaration on your own or in collaboration with RTO compliance staff. Reliable sources of data must be referred to when responding to each question asked in the annual declaration as they are critical indicators of your RTOs past and current compliance status. If your RTO does not have current and reliable data on its compliance status such as internal audit findings, validation outcomes or quality reviews you should follow ASQA’s advice and utilise their Self-Assessment Tool to assist in preparation of the annual declaration.  If your RTO does not have the capability or resources to undertake the self-assessment or preparation of the annual declaration then seek assistance from EDministrate to ensure you fully comply with ASQA’s requirements.

How to prepare your response:

Before you complete the CEO declaration, you should have conducted your analysis of your RTOs self-assurance activities and the outcomes to determine your past and current compliance status. Additionally, you should have checked your RTO’s details in ASQAnet and TGA to ensure the information is accurate and indicative of your current arrangements.

Once you have confirmed that information you can use it to respond to the questions in the survey that ASQA sends. You do not need to attach any data reports or provide comprehensive information however, you should ensure your responses are succinct and reflect a concise summary of your RTO’s compliance.

Other feature articles:

How your RTO self-assurance systems can help drive revenue and business growth

Essential self-assurance systems and process for RTO’s

5 keys for running an effective internal audit programme in your RTO

Key benefits of conducting regular quality checks of your training and assessment strategies and practices

Cheat sheet for validating assessments prior to use

The do’s and don’ts of creating an internal audit programme for your RTO

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/rto/responsibilities/complying-asqa-requirements#annual-declaration-on-compliance

https://www.asqa.gov.au/working-together/consultation-self-assurance

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/presentations/webinar-working-together-towards-effective-self-assurance

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/other/consultation-paper-working-together-towards-effective-self-assurance

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/self-assessment-tool