Why you need to get rid of paper based records in your RTO

Why you need to get rid of paper based records in your RTO

Legislative changes came into force on 1 September 2020 that now means the National Regulator can request student records from RTOs in a specified electronic format. For providers who are still managing paper-based student records now is the time to develop a strategy to digitise these documents. ASQA are yet to advise RTOs of the information technology requirements for electronic student records but in planning now to transition your record keeping systems you can anticipate future needs. The following information provides RTOs with food for thought in relation to managing student records electronically.

Learning Management Systems:

Learning Management System, also referred to as LMS, in simple terms is a software application for managing e-Learning which helps in administration, documentation, tracking, and recording. Typically, a LMS provides the user with a way in which to create and deliver learning content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance. Some systems may also provide students with the ability to use interactive features such as threaded discussion, video conferencing, and discussion forums. An LMS enables automation of grading and reporting thus providing valuable data statistics. One of the advantages of an LMS is the functionality for easily adapting and reusing materials over time. This is because the system is a central repository for all the content housed within. 

Blended or hybrid learning is also made possible via an LMS. This delivery mode means having the opportunity to combine multiple forms of learning including eLearning, simulation-based learning, mobile learning and classroom-based learning. If you are moving from traditional, face-to-face classrooms or training, using an LMS can save you tremendous time and resources. RTOs can significantly reduce expenses such as facility hire, travel and printing costs while giving students the flexibility to learn at their own convenience from any location. It is important to note that the technology doesn’t replace the trainer/assessor, it is a powerful tool that can allow you to scale the delivery of your courses. Many RTO’s had to pivot to online training when COVID-19 happened and it has been realised by most that blended delivery models are here to stay to ensure continuity of business should a vaccine to end the pandemic not be available any time soon. 

In choosing an LMS platform RTOs should consider one that has the ability to integrate with its other IT systems preferably with features such as single sign on for accessibility.

Digital Skills:

Much has been said in recent times about us needing to rethink and digitise traditional learning pathways (PWC) and disrupt the modality of learning (DESE) due to the rapid and constant changes in technology in the workplace (NCVER). If COVID-19 has taught us anything by disrupting the VET sector it’s that our trainers and assessors need exceptional digital skills to use the technology we provide our learners with and to be able to train them in the digital skills they need for the future jobs emerging from the pandemic. RTO managers shouldn’t assume their staffs’ existing qualifications mean that they are also digitally literate and capable. For RTOs to be industry relevant and in order to compete with non-traditional training providers (EdTech) who are agile and quick to keep up with the pace of change, CEO’s should consider how you can ensure the digital skills of your RTO workforce is current and sufficient.

Digitisation of Records:

Digitising is defined as the process of converting any hardcopy, or paper-based records into digital format. Document scanning is essentially digitising paper documents. Through the use of a scanning device, hard copy documents are converted into electronic files for more efficient storage, security, and management. Digitisation benefits businesses as paper records are expensive to physically store, hard to track, easy to lose and time-consuming to create. Risks associated with managing your RTOs physical documents include theft, natural disasters, human error, lost records, and more. 

Using technology and processes to bring your records into the digital age is a benefit to your staff and customers. The advantages of getting rid of paper based records is increased productivity, reduced costs and stress, accessibility and data security. Both your administration and training staff’s productivity can be affected by the inability to access correct information because of outdated and manual systems. They are held back by information not being shared in a central place. CEOs of RTOs must consider what capability and capacity they have internally to implement a digitisation strategy and consider the external threats and opportunities of introducing such an initiative.

Other Feature Articles:

https://www.edministrate.com.au/5-signs-you-need-to-hire-an-rto-consultant-for-your-business/

https://www.edministrate.com.au/implementing-systems-for-self-assurance/

https://www.edministrate.com.au/critical-steps-in-choosing-the-right-rto-consultant-to-work-with/

https://www.edministrate.com.au/the-essential-guide-to-setting-up-a-qms-in-your-rto/

https://www.edministrate.com.au/feature-article-three-planning-resources-every-rto-manager-should-have-in-their-toolkit/

https://www.edministrate.com.au/feature-article-four-key-pieces-of-advice-for-rto-managers/

https://www.edministrate.com.au/feature-article-planning-essentials-for-rtos/

References: 

https://www.asqa.gov.au/distance-learning

https://www.asqa.gov.au/distance-learning/reporting-record-keeping

https://www.asqa.gov.au/distance-learning/sector-insights

https://www.asqa.gov.au/legislative-changes

https://www.northpass.com/learning-management-systems

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/

https://itbrief.com.au/story/lack-of-access-to-information-affecting-australian-productivity

https://www.pwc.com.au/important-problems/where-next-for-skills-business-led-upskilling-for-productivity-growth.html 

https://www.employment.gov.au/digital 

https://www.ncver.edu.au/news-and-events/podcasts/vocational-voices-podcast/transcripts/transcript-of-workforce-ready-challenges-and-opportunities-for-vet

Feature Article: How to effectively deal with non-compliances in trainer and assessor files

Employers adopting new models of learning to develop employees for the future of work

ASQA expects RTOs to be accountable for identifying and correcting non-compliant practices and behaviours, particularly those that have had a negative impact on learners. In an audit situation they require a provider to address non-compliance so that future learners will not be negatively affected and identify the impact non-compliance has had on past learners remediating any impacts had on students. The following advice will assist RTOs in identifying and addressing non-compliances found in records located in trainer or assessor files.

Does not have evidence of holding appropriate training and assessment credentials:

If you find you have trainers or assessors that do not have evidence on file of holding a relevant TAE qualification, skillset or recognised higher level qualification they should not be permitted to train and assess until you rectify the situation. This includes those trainers and/or assessors that may hold a TAE10 credential and need to provide evidence that they also have completed both upgrade units as required by Clause 1.14 in the SRTOs 2015. RTOs should not assume that trainers or assessors hold these credentials and must verify the documentation and maintain appropriate records. Should you determine some staff do not have sufficient evidence of holding appropriate training and assessment credentials a plan that identifies actions to rectify the issue must be implemented immediately for the individual. This plan could include details of required supervision and support to obtain the necessary credentials. 

Insufficient evidence to demonstrate vocational competencies:

Trainers or assessors that do not hold the relevant industry qualification and/or unit(s) of competency (or their equivalent) and cannot demonstrate equivalence through mapping relevant industry work experience, skills & knowledge should not be permitted to deliver training or conduct assessment until you can sufficiently evidence their vocational competence. Rectification includes removing them from your staffing matrixes in your training and assessment strategies (TAS’s). Where a trainer or assessor lacks sufficient evidence it may be a simple case of providing missing or incomplete records. However, if your trainer or assessor does not hold an industry qualification or cannot show equivalence of their work history to the units of competency being delivered then you need to develop a professional development plan that enables them to obtain relevant and sufficient industry experience.  The plan could identify return to industry for a specified period of time depending on how many units of competency they are delivering. ASQA advise that if a trainer/assessor have no vocational competence (experience) in the area they are teaching in or no formal training or assessment qualifications, training and assessment delivered by them may be inadequate and learners impacted therefore it is critical for RTOs to ensure vocational competence of staff is confirmed and sufficiently evidenced.

Does not hold mandatory vocational qualifications:

Specific training products require that trainers and/or assessors hold mandatory vocational qualifications, licences or accreditations which are typically identified in the assessment conditions of units of competency or can otherwise be located in training package companion volumes or implementation guides e.g. nursing, commercial cookery, fitness. If you determine your trainer does not have evidence of holding the specified vocational qualification it may be the case that they cannot assess the units of competency they are delivering until they can provide the required evidence. In other instances a training product will make reference to required industry experience in the assessment conditions of units of competency e.g. hospitality, hairdressing, fitness, civil construction therefore, you must have documented evidence that your assessors have a work history that meets these requirements. Assessors that do not have sufficient evidence of industry experience should not be permitted to assess and be placed on a professional development plan that includes return to industry so as to obtain the required experience. 

Insufficient evidence of maintaining industry currency: 

If you have trainers and/or assessors that are vocationally competent but they do not have evidence of maintaining their industry currency in the last 2 years for all or some of the units of competency they are delivering you need to ensure they have a professional development plan that details how they are going to obtain this evidence. The plan needs to identify appropriate currency activities for each unit of competency they are identified against on the staffing matrixes in your TAS’s. Ideally these activities should be completed prior to the next delivery of the specific units of competency needing additional evidence. Remember that industry currency activities should be endorsed by the relevant industry sector of the training products you deliver as appropriate.

Insufficient evidence of maintaining VET currency:

Trainers or assessors that have not undertaken any professional development in VET training and assessment in the last 12 months should complete relevant PD as soon as possible as determined by your RTO. They can be permitted to continue delivering training and conducting assessment, but should commit to further PD over the next 12 months as identified in a professional development plan

Monitoring Professional Development Plans:

Any professional development plans implemented to return trainers or assessors to a compliant status should be monitored regularly by RTO managers to ensure timeframes for completion are met and individual goals achieved. We recommend ensuring that this is addressed in regular performance conversations between management and staff.

Other feature articles:

Easy ways to determine if a trainer or assessor is vocationally competent 

Five essential tips for evidencing trainer’s vocational currency

Four point checklist for compliant trainer and assessor profiles

Five questions you should ask before engaging contract trainers and assessors

Common compliance mistakes every RTO makes

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.13-to-1.16

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.17-to-1.20

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/fact-sheets/meeting-trainer-and-assessor-requirements

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/be-considered-be-vocationally-competent-does-trainer-and-assessor-need-hold-qualification-and

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/trainer-and-assessor-do-i-need-hold-unit-taelln411-address-adult-language-literacy-and-numeracy

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/faqs/individuals-working-under-supervision-trainer

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/faqs/trainers-and-assessors

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

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

People don’t do what you expect; they do what you inspect! 

Quality checking processes can provide early indicators of problems and ensure your RTO delivers products and services that meet customers’ needs and expectations..

Course Review: 

If you do not have a process in place to review your RTO’s courses at least annually and analyse data from enrolments; surveys; feedback; complaints and validation you are not effectively monitoring the quality of your training and assessment. RTOs should ensure they retain evidence of reviewing training and assessment strategies and practices and an effective way of doing this is to include trainers and assessors in the process. You may determine in your checks that you are performing well and don’t need to make any significant changes to processes and this is fine so long as you can provide evidence of having undertaken such a review. However, in most cases RTOs will find something that needs improving and this is perfectly normal and expected.

Monitoring Systems:

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.

Continuous Improvement:

RTOs should implement processes that ensure reviews at regular intervals of strategies for training and assessment so as to reflect changes in industry technology and techniques, legislation, and the training package itself. Your RTO should also update strategies when resources change e.g. staff so as to ensure they reflect current practice. It is important to ensure you maintain comprehensive records of your reviews and updates so you can evidence systematic improvements made to processes within your organisation.

References: 

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

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/compliance-governance/clauses-2.1-8.4-to-8.6

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/compliance-governance/clauses-2.3-2.4-8.3

Feature Article: Five questions you should ask before engaging contract trainers and assessors

Feature Article: Five questions you should ask before engaging contract trainers and assessors

RTOs when hiring contract trainers and assessors should ensure systems are in place to retain and verify evidence that shows they can demonstrate appropriate competency, currency and professional development. Even if they are going to be employed by your RTO for a short period of time you need to ensure your recordkeeping of their credentials and supporting documentation is sufficient so as to minimise any risk of creating non-compliances. 

Do you have a current trainer profile that evidences your competency and currency:

If the contract trainer and/or assessor you want to employ doesn’t have a current profile and has recently been working for other RTOs that should raise concerns as it could mean they don’t have an awareness of their obligation to maintain their currency and it may end up costing your RTO time and money to develop them to the standard required by your organisation.  Some may also have learned poor practices in other RTOs that you will need to retrain them in to ensure your processes are adhered to. Recruiting unqualified or inexperienced trainers and/or assessors is a risk to your business and bad hiring decisions can have serious consequences for your RTO.

Does your work history relate to employment outcomes of the training products we want you to deliver:

Let’s face it you don’t want to employ a trainer and/or assessor that has never worked in a job role relevant to the qualifications you are asking them to train and assess in. If they don’t have relevant industry experience they will not been seen as a credible source of information by both students and employers. While you may come across trainers and/or assessors who hold the qualifications you want them to train in, if they don’t also have work experience in the industry behind them it is questionable how they achieved their credentials. Make sure you seek industry feedback as to what credentials and experience are considered appropriate from the trainers and/or assessors you employ. 

What have you done in the last 2 years to stay current in industry:

If the trainer and/or assessor you want to employ has not had a recent position in industry or does not currently have secondary employment in the sector they need to have been undertaking other activities to ensure they have been maintaining their industry currency. You should verify prior to employing them that they have records of relevant activities for each unit of competency they are training and assessing. Remember that your RTO should be consulting with industry to identify which activities your trainers and assessors should undertake and how often. Depending on the industry the frequency may need to be more often to stay on top of rapid changes in specific sectors e.g. IT. Your trainers and assessors records should reflect these requirements.

What professional development have you done in the last 12 months to maintain your knowledge and skills in vocational training and learning:

Many RTOs neglect to ensure that their trainers and/or assessors are undertaking regular professional development to maintain their VET currency. If they have undertaken PD in the last year to upgrade their TAE credentials then generally their VET knowledge and skills are still current.  Your RTO should have a planned approach to professional development in vocational training and learning so as to ensure that all of your trainers and assessors are continuing to develop their knowledge and skill in the VET environment at least on an annual basis. Investing in having highly skilled and competent staff benefits your students and organisation and promotes quality education.

Are your occupational licences and/or industry accreditations current:

Often we see RTOs with expired records of trainers and/or assessors licences on file because they do not have a system of monitoring when these need to be renewed. No one prompts the trainer and/or assessor to provide a new record of their updated licence or industry accreditation. Before engaging a contract trainer and assessor you need to ensure you have their current records of licences and accreditations and you are able to verify they are on top of renewing these credentials else it may become a compliance issue for you. Having a system that identifies records needing to be updated before they lapse ensures you avoid non-compliance with the SRTOs 2015.

References: 

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.13-to-1.16

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/faqs/training-and-assessment

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/fact-sheets/meeting-trainer-and-assessor-requirements

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

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

If you want to achieve quality rather than just ensuring that your RTO meets its regulatory and contractual requirements, then putting the effort into effective internal auditing is essential.

Do:

Develop a proper risk-based audit programme

You audit programme should reflect risks identified in your management systems. Your RTO should not be auditing everything at the same frequency else you will be reviewing some areas too much and others not enough. You should apply risk ratings to areas of concern that determines their priority in the schedule. Ultimately, it’s just a poor use of your resources if not done correctly and you are just auditing for the sake of it and ticking some boxes!

Clearly define audit objectives

Your RTO’s audit objectives define why the audit is being done and what it’s purpose is.  You need to carefully consider why your auditors are actually conducting their reviews; what is the value of them and what outcomes do you want from them? Some objectives to consider are:

  • To check if organisational controls are being adhered to and are in alignment and fit for purpose
  • To determine if staff have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities
  • To identify areas for improvement
  • To determine levels of consistency across processes and departments

Clearly define audit scope

Your RTO’s audit scope should define the extent and boundaries of the proposed audit. These considerations include:

  • The size of the audit?
  • What breadth does it cover?
  • What teams; processes; locations are included?

It is important to be specific with your scope and not make vague references such as “all processes”. A well written scope will clearly define the boundaries of the audit for both auditors and auditees.

Clearly define the audit criteria

Your audit criteria is what the audit is checking against; for RTO’s generally this is likely to be the SNR’s from the SRTO’s 2015 or clauses from funding agreements or other contracts. Similar to the scope the audit criteria helps keep the auditors on track and is used to determine whether evidence complies or does not comply against the audit criteria stated. Your auditors need to be familiar with the requirements of the audit criteria. Audit findings are only valid when referenced back to the criteria, not auditors opinions. 

Use auditors with the right vocational background

Even if your auditors have appropriate qualifications in auditing they still need to know what they are looking at and have knowledge of the VET sector.  Ideally your auditors should be dual qualified / experienced in auditing and training and assessment to ensure they have a broad understanding of what they are auditing.

Don’t:

Use inexperienced or unqualified auditors

Your auditors whether internal staff or external contractors need to be appropriately trained. Training ensures that the auditors do their job correctly; that they use a consistent approach, and that they are skilled in communicating well with auditees. Experienced auditors understand how to conduct effective opening and closing meetings and how to gather and review evidence. They also provide feedback and audit reports that are brief, concise and factual. They do the job right. 

Audit the same things repeatedly: 

It is pointless continuing to audit the same areas and raising more non-compliances when the underlaying causes are not being addressed. There is no value in reviewing areas you know you are going to find the same issues as you did in previous audits.  Your RTO needs to ensure you are following up on outstanding rectifications from previous audits to ensure actions have been taken. This could also mean systemic issues previously identified have been addressed to prevent recurrence.

References: 

https://www.iia.org.au/technical-resources

https://www.pwc.com.au/assurance/internal-audit-profession.html

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

https://desbt.qld.gov.au/training/providers/pqs/audits

Feature Article: Three planning resources every RTO manager should have in their toolkit

Planning: The act of formulating a course of action to achieve a desired goal.

“Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.”

Planning Software:

RTOs, whether large or small unquestionably manage multiple projects, plans, tasks and people at any given time. Having a solution that keeps everything organised while managing competing priorities in a way that is consistent and profitable is critical for RTO managers. Holding yourself and your team accountable and ensuring nothing slips through the cracks by utilising an online planning system that provides visibility and oversight will ensure you can plan effectively. One tool that is highly effective for RTO planning is Trello. The application is a web-based Kanban style list making collaboration tool that organizes your activities into boards. RTOs can use it to organise committees; staff meetings; action plans; schedules; student tracking and many more. The free account provides basic functionality that can get your planning started. RTOs can sign up here

Planning Templates:

The success of your RTO, no matter what size depends on the effectiveness of your planning and strategy. Planning templates are important tools that ensure you can better plan, manage, and report on strategic initiatives. To effectively plan and implement strategy RTO managers need various planning templates suited to your operational requirements. Using fit for purpose templates to define and communicate your goals and objectives will ensure it is easily understood by all of your stakeholders.  EDministrate has developed templates that can be used by RTOs to undertake key planning activities related to training and assessment; industry engagement and validation. They can be purchased here if you want customisable, off-the-shelf document templates.  

Planning Processes: 

Your planning processes should be concerned with defining the RTO’s goals and determining the resources necessary to achieve those objectives. Planning always has a purpose. The purpose may involve the achievement of certain KPI’s or targets. This is enabled through consistent strategies that are supported by staff at all levels. A standing plan is a business plan that is intended to be used many times. The most common examples of standing use plans are policies and procedures. These plans should be published and accessible to all staff in a central repository for easy reference. RTO managers must be careful to create and implement the appropriate policies and procedures for the situations they face. We have customisable policies and procedures for RTOs that can be purchased  here if you should you need to update your organisations plans.

References: 

https://blog.trello.com/kanban-101

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_04.htm

Feature Article: Common compliance mistakes every RTO makes

Training and assessment strategies do not reflect information contained in marketing material:

The information contained in your TAS’s needs to be consistent with the information you are marketing on your website and other marketing material. Details around course durations; course descriptions; attendance / participation requirements; entry requirements or selection criteria should be accurate in both sources. ASQA often finds non-compliances at audit and with applications for additions to scope in evidence submitted as RTOs can fail to pay attention to details with this critical data. Remember your websites are publicly available and can be accessed by ASQA at any time.

Failure to ensure trainers are maintaining their profiles:

Some RTOs make assumptions that their trainers are current because they are working in industry or appear to be undertaking professional development regularly however, they fall down because they don’t sufficiently document these activities systematically and on a consistent basis. In an audit ASQA wants to see a documented analysis e.g. mapping of how your trainers / assessors meet industry currency requirements for each unit of competency they are delivering. If you don’t have a process in place to document these requirements at the unit of competency level you will not satisfy the requirements of the relevant clauses in the SRTOs 2015. Remember mapping should be at least at the element level for each unit to demonstrate that the maintenance of currency has addressed all the requirements.

Assessment tools do not meet the requirements of the unit of competency:

Not having a process in place to validate / quality check assessment tools pre-use puts your RTO at potential risk of non-compliances as you have not determined if your assessment tools are fit for purpose and meet the requirements of the specific unit of competency.  If you implement these resources without conducting this due diligence you could be impacting on student and industry outcomes and be deemed critically non-compliant in an audit.

Assessment tasks have insufficient instructions for students and assessors:

Assessors cannot collect sufficient evidence from students if assessment task instructions are vague and unclear. This in turn can impact on marking; recordkeeping and overall reliability of the assessors judgement. Instructions in assessment tasks need to be specific as possible. Benchmark answers and  marking guides should be explicit and not be open to interpretation by assessors. 

No benchmark answers or marking guides for assessment tasks:

If you do not have benchmark answers or marking guides for your assessors to refer to when making their judgements you cannot ensure your assessor is meeting the rules of evidence. Your assessors practices will not be consistent without these critical documents to refer to.

References: 

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/faqs/compliance

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards

Feature Article: Four key pieces of advice for RTO managers

Being a leader in a rapidly changing industry such as the VET sector is not easy. Here are some hints to help you manage successfully…

Leadership: 

Effective leadership requires a lot of self-discipline, boundaries and empathy. Favour personal relationships over processes. One of the biggest mistakes leaders can make is failing to network with other managers within their organisation or wider industry. Your peers represent a valuable knowledge resource and support system. The RTO world is relatively small and who you develop work relationships with will benefit your career in the VET sector in the long run. 

Managing your team:

It’s critical as a manager to set clear goals for your team members whether you are managing trainers/assessors or administration staff or a combination of both. In doing so give your workers flexibility, autonomy and control over how they perform their work. As a manager, it’s important to show trust in your employees. Evaluate staff on their performance and outputs, not the number of hours they spend in the office. 

Managing your resources:

RTO managers need to be skilled at managing resources effectively and efficiently particularly when it comes to staff. Planning is critical when it comes to being efficient. Effective resource management is achieved by having appropriate plans in place such as timetables and schedules. Part of your planning process should be identifying and implementing efficiencies particularly where you can use technology or automate tasks. 

Communicate effectively:

Different staff have different ways of working, preferences for communication, environmental needs, feedback styles and unique attitudes towards their jobs. Therefore, not one person or role will need the same type of managing. Often times, the people you manage have more to teach you than you have to teach them.  Now more than ever authenticity and accountability in the workplace is valued over appearances and hollow promises. Staff expect genuine, trustworthy interactions with their managers not those based on pretence or attempts to hide imperfections.

References: 

https://hbr.org/2015/05/why-compassion-is-a-better-managerial-tactic-than-toughness

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nelldebevoise/2020/05/19/to-build-back-better-ceos-must-put-people-first/?ss=leadership-strategy#e9ff9627c903

Feature Article: Four ways to ensure your RTOs assessment practices are compliant

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.

Validation of assessor 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 assessors practices. From those findings you can determine what professional development needs those 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.

References: 

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: Five steps to creating a compliant training and assessment strategy (TAS)

Feature Article: Five steps to creating a compliant training and assessment strategy (TAS)
Five steps to creating a compliant training and assessment strategy (TAS)

The compliance of your training and assessment strategies will be tested by ASQA either when you submit them with an application to add a training product to scope or during a regulatory audit. Therefore, it is critical your RTO has effective processes in place to ensure that these mandatory compliance documents are developed to meet the requirements of the relevant clauses in the  SRTOs 2015.

Template:

Your training and assessment strategies are the source documents for your RTO’s academic planning related to the training and assessment for all training products on scope. It is important that your TAS template is fit for purpose and designed to capture all of the critical information required.  At a minimum your RTO should use a TAS template that captures information for the following aspects:

  • The training product is identified including the code and full title as per the National Register;
  • Core and elective components for delivery of full qualifications are identified as per the packaging rules and for partial delivery of qualifications or stand-alone units the specific units of competency being offered are listed;
  • Entry requirements are explained including mandatory requirements of the training product and any additional requirements as per your RTO policies;
  • Pre-requisite and co-requisite units are identified;
  • Sequencing of the delivery and assessment is explained;
  • The student cohort/s and their characteristics are identified including any existing knowledge, skills and work experience.
  • Mode of delivery is identified e.g. face-to-face, online, workplace training or mixed mode
  • Duration and scheduling of your program is provided detailing your amount of training hours that are appropriate for the student cohort/s
  • Assessment resources, methods and timing are identified including mandatory work placement arrangements
  • Learning resources are identified
  • Appropriately qualified trainers and assessors are identified for each unit of competency being offered
  • Essential physical resources are identified for each unit of competency being offered including facilities such as workshops and labs, equipment and training aids

ASQA suggests that a TAS may comprise of multiple documents but there must be consistency between these documents so that the overall strategy is clearly described. You may decide to have separate documents as addendums to your main document for lists such as your staffing matrix, physical resource list or learning and assessment resource list and this is ok.  If you do this you need to ensure that the addendums and their locations are clearly referenced in your main document.

EDministrate has developed a fit for purpose Training and Assessment Strategy Template that has been designed to meet all the compliance requirements should your RTO need to replace what you are currently using.

Checklist:

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. We have a good TAS validation checklist available for free download should your staff want to implement this in your RTO.

Information Sources:

There are numerous places from which you will need to draw the information required for your TAS such as the National Register; training package implementation guides; accredited course syllabuses and other RTO planning documents. The information you input will impact on the compliance of your document and will only be as good as the reliability of the source. Your RTO should have clearly defined processes preferably documented in a procedure that explains how you will ensure the quality of the content in your TAS.

Quality Check:

RTOs must comply with Clause 2.2 in the SRTOs 2015 which requires systematic monitoring of its training and assessment strategies and practices. This includes having processes in place to evaluate RTO products and services and using feedback to improve its strategies and practices. Therefore, RTO’s must have effective systems in place to ensure quality checks of compliance documents are embedded in its quality assurance.  This should include reviews of TAS’s at regular intervals that determines their effectiveness and implementation in the organisation.  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.

Approval:

Management is accountable for ensuring the quality of training and assessment of a RTO’s course offerings. Therefore, it is important that your RTO has an approval process in place before each TAS is implemented in your organisation. Having this management oversight will ensure the documents are consistent with your RTO’s actual training and assessment strategies and practices.

References: 

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