9 expert tips for preparing for validation of assessor judgements activities

9 expert tips for preparing for validation of assessor judgements activities

According to ASQA, validation is a quality review process that confirms your RTO’s assessment system can consistently produce valid assessment judgements. A valid assessment judgement is one that confirms you have collected sufficient evidence of a learner holding all of the knowledge and skills described in the relevant unit of competency. Validation of assessor judgements are conducted post assessment so you can confirm the validity of both assessment practices and judgements. Follow these expert tips when preparing for your validation activities so you are well organised, less stressed and your reviews of completed student work are conducted in the most effective and efficient manner.

Confirm the Unit of Competencies being validated:

Refer to your RTOs validation plan to identify the units of competency scheduled for validation. In planning your activities consult with the staff involved and confirm the units selected for the validation.

Identify your Validation Leads:

Confirm appropriately qualified validation leads for your validation panels and advise them of their responsibilities. Preferably your leads should hold the unit of competency TAEASS503 Lead assessment validation processes. Be sure to identify well in advance if any of the leads require validation training or a refresher of your RTOs validation processes.

Identify your Validation Panels:

Confirm appropriately qualified validation panel members and advise them of their responsibilities. You need to ensure you have people on the panel who are vocationally competent and current for the units being validated and have appropriate training and assessment credentials and VET currency. Ideally having someone from industry on your panel is also recommended. Be sure to identify well in advance if any of the panel require validation training or a refresher of your validation processes.

Set up your filing system:

Keeping good records is critical in ensuring an effective validation process is conducted. Ensure you accurately calculate your statistically valid student sample size and gather the associated records. Establish a filing system (preferably electronic) and create folder structures to organise the records according to your process. Communicate to your validation panel the availability of the records and their location. If you are accessing student records from within your Learning Management System ensure all of your validation panel has the appropriate system access beforehand.

Review the Unit of Competency requirements:

Read the unit of competency as found on www.training.gov.au to familarise yourself with its requirements before you conduct the validation exercise.

Review the Assessment Tool:

Look at each assessment task and check the instructions provided. Check the version of the assessment tool for the unit of competency to be validated so you can compare it with the version administered by the assessor in the sample of completed student work being reviewed. Check the templates used and other supporting documentation to ensure they are the correct versions as required by your RTO’s assessment system.

Check the Assessment Mapping: 

Review your assessment mapping document to confirm that the assessment tasks meet all the unit of competency requirements so you know the evidence collected by the assessor is sufficient.

Collate the student samples: 

Gather the assessment evidence collected, student outcomes/records of results issued and feedback given post-delivery. All completed student assessments for the specific units of competency need to be collated for the validation.

Prepare your validation report template:

Pre-populate your report with the details of the units of competency being validated. Ensure you have made provision in your template for actions to be delegated once the outcomes/findings have been determined. Prepare an appropriate filing system to store completed reports and other supporting documentation/evidence.

Other feature articles:

Cheat sheet for validating assessments prior to use 

Four ways to ensure your RTOs assessment practices are compliant

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

Implementing systems for self-assurance

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

Common compliance mistakes every RTO makes 

References:

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

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.8-to-1.12

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clause-1.25

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/i-am-only-trainerassessor-our-small-rto-how-do-i-meet-requirement-clause-111-which-states

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/what-difference-between-validation-and-moderation-clauses-19-111

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/i-work-small-rto-and-am-also-only-trainer-and-assessor-my-specific-industry-area-how-can-our

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/are-rtos-applying-add-tae-training-package-products-scope-required-provide-independent

 

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

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

RTOs must establish an ‘amount of training’ (AOT) for each qualification they deliver as required by Clause 1.2 in the SRTOs 2015.  These hours must be documented in your training and assessment strategies (TAS’s). ASQA is concerned with providers delivering sufficient training to support learners to gain the required competencies. Their regulatory approach in relation to course durations has been to advise RTOs to use the AQF ‘volume of learning’ (VOL) range as a basis to determine an appropriate AOT for the qualifications being delivered.

Identify your learner cohort characteristics:

You need to distinguish in your TAS’s the different types cohorts you are delivering to and identify their characteristics e.g. inexperienced or experienced learners. If your RTO intends to deliver to learners who are new to the industry area and/or who do not have any workplace experience, the AOT required that is described in the training and assessment strategy would closely match the timeframe listed with the AQF volume of learning. However, if you plan to deliver to a learner cohort that already has defined skills, knowledge and workplace experience appropriate to the industry, a shorter AOT may be sufficient to ensure that each learner has fully absorbed the required knowledge and has developed the skills required in a range of different contexts.

Identify your mode of delivery:

Your mode of delivery may influence the AOT you are providing, and the training and assessment being provided. The hours you allocate between supervised and unsupervised learning activities will depend on the delivery mode used. For delivery modes that incorporate asynchronous online or self-paced distance delivery you need to ensure you have documented in your TAS the support and assistance available to the learners while unsupervised by the trainer. This will ensure the justification you provide for a short AOT is valid. If you are a CRICOs provider delivering to an international student cohort you need to be mindful off using appropriate delivery modes that meet the requirements of the National Code 2018.

Provide a breakdown of amount of training hours:

The AOT essentially comprises the formal learning activities you provide to a learner. These formal activities can include classes, lectures, tutorials, online or self-paced study, as well as workplace learning. It’s important to note that it includes any learning activity directed by the trainer whether supervised or unsupervised. The VOL includes all teaching, learning and assessment activities that are required to be completed by the student to achieve the learning outcomes. The AOT is incorporated in the VOL. If your RTO is not delivering a full qualification, the AOT to be provided may be a proportion of the AQF volume of learning. This can be calculated by taking the minimum VOL hours for the qualification that the units of competency identified sit in and dividing it by the number of units in the qualification.  This will give you the VOL hours per unit. Make sure the AOT hours identified in your TAS correlate with the actual training hours documented in your schedules and timetables.

Provide justification for your short course duration: 

Where you have identified a course duration shorter than the minimum AQF benchmark range for the qualification you need to provide a rationale in your TAS for the reduction in time given. Your explanation needs to define why the hours identified are suitable for the specific learner cohort.  Your experienced learner cohort may have existing skills and knowledge and RPL and credits could be applicable therefore shortening the timeframe for training provided. You may also refer to ‘gap-training’ or accelerated learning reflective of the learner’s existing competencies. Where you have identified clustered learning and/or assessment in your TAS that can also provide a justification for a reduction in course duration/hours.

Other feature articles:

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

How to plan industry engagement activities effectively

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

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/fact-sheets/amount-of-training

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

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

 

5 signs you need to hire an RTO consultant for your business

5 signs you need to hire an RTO consultant for your business

At any given time your RTO may require the services of an consultant. This could be for reasons such as to obtain market information or for advice, skills, strategies and techniques that don’t exist in your business. An RTO consultant can provide solutions for a huge range of business issues and work with you on strategy, planning and problem-solving. According to ASQA an RTO consultant can be a good place to start if you are seeking assistance or expertise with issues related to initial registration or the registration renewal process. 

Compliance expertise:

RTOs may need to seek a consultant from outside the business when there is a lack of expertise internally. There are times when the skills needed for growth are not available inside an organisation. External consultants provide the skills and experience needed to complete a project or solve specific problems. Bringing in fresh eyes to review your systems and processes can be refreshing for your business. Sometimes when you have been working hard and looking at the same thing, it can be difficult to see the forest from the trees, however if you have a way of seeing the same process with different eyes or a different perspective you can  notice things that may not have been obvious before.

 

An RTO consultant like EDministrate specialising in compliance or quality issues can help a business avoid breaches and non-compliances. Adhering to legislative requirements and regulatory obligations can be complex and difficult to implement so hiring a compliance expert can save time, resources, and expenses in the long run.

New markets:

If your business is taking steps to break into a new market that you are unfamiliar with, whether it be a new delivery area or revenue stream, hiring an RTO consultant that has experience and expertise within that market can help you avoid certain risks and make your transition a more successful one. RTO consultants often have experience with similar projects and the cross-pollination of these ideas helps businesses grow and innovate.

Unfinished projects: 

The best RTO consultants will salvage all those delayed projects that you’ve been holding off for a while. Businesses can hire consultants for short-term projects without the expense of salary and on-costs providing maximum flexibility and minimal financial risk. A consultant’s contract ends once the project is completed. The biggest advantage in using a consultant for projects is that you don’t have to take staff off business as usual to finish them which would just get you caught up in an endless cycle of bottlenecks and frustration.

Decision Making:

Indecisiveness can take a toll on you and your team. If it doesn’t feel like your RTO is achieving growth as you expected, then your business may be stagnant. An experienced RTO consultant can help reinvigorate your organisation and identify barriers to your growth. They’ll help you identify ways to develop your business sustainably. When conflicts or problems arise, it’s wise to get an independent view on things. RTO consultants, being experts on strategies, can add perspective that might be absent when leaders get too close to a problem. These experts can help analyse problems, navigate internal politics, and offer unbiased solutions.

Risk Management: 

Are you making risky decisions that might impact on your ability to adhere to legislative or regulatory obligations and contractual requirements? The risk of not getting things right from the beginning far outweighs the cost of hiring a consultant. RTO consultants have extensive knowledge of trends and strategies. When RTOs encounter a problem which impacts productivity or growth, a consultant can help uncover data, define the problem, and recommend new approaches through an objective standpoint while mitigating risks to protect your business from potential regulatory action.

Other feature articles:

Implementing systems for self-assurance

Critical steps in choosing the right RTO consultant to work with  

Get ready for JobTrainer

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

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/audit/can-consultants-provider-participate-audit

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/can-we-use-consultants-develop-course

https://www.asqa.gov.au/rto/more-support

 

Step by step guide to managing transition from superseded training products

Step by step guide to managing transition from superseded training products

On 12 August 2020 the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) approved updates to 16 training packages including the AUR; BSB; FNS; CPC; AMP; MAR; TLI; HLT; and UEE packages. It is expected that they will be released on TGA in October with a 12 month transition period. RTOs with training products on scope within these training packages should commence projects as soon as possible in anticipation of transitioning from the superseded training products to the replacement training products as these changes will require a significant amount of work for providers to implement.

 

Planning:

RTOs should subscribe to the National Register of VET (TGA) to receive notifications when changes to training products are published including:

  • When a new version of a training package becomes available; or
  • When a training product is superseded

 

When a notification of change to a training product is received, RTO managers should schedule an initial planning meeting to commence a project to transition. Identification of the intended time frame to deliver the replacement training product should be discussed and agreed as early as possible as preparation will impact on your ability to market the replacement training product and recruit your student cohorts. Additional processes such as additions or changes to CRICOs registration or VSL approvals need to be considered to be ready to deliver as planned.

Resource development:

RTOs need to ensure that prior to commencement of delivery of a replacement training product they are resourced to deliver what is on scope and can demonstrate compliance with the SRTOs 2015 and the ASQA General Direction. Create a plan for development or updating of learning and assessment resources for all units identified in the training and assessment strategy for the replacement training product/s.

  • For existing learning and assessment resources the plan should identify required upgrades and improvements
  • Where no learning and assessment resources exist the plan should identify how they are to be developed (including purchasing of off-the-shelf resources)

The plan should clearly outline time frames for completion of development well before delivery of specific units of competency need to commence.

Transitioning students: 

RTOs must transition learners from superseded training products within specified time frames to ensure only currently endorsed training packages and accredited courses are delivered. Training products that lead to licensed or regulated outcomes may need to meet additional requirements. RTO management will need to identify the numbers of students currently enrolled in the superseded training product and if they will complete prior to the transition end date or if they will need to be transitioned to the replacement training product. The most effective way to identify what students need to be transitioned is to undertake a student transition mapping. If international students are undertaking a superseded training product and need to be transitioned into the replacement training product you need to consider CRICOs requirements and the impact on Confirmation of Enrollment (COEs). RTOs can continue to enroll students in superseded training products during the transition period so long as it is permissible under funding / contractual arrangements and the student is able to complete the training within the transition period. 

Adding training products to scope: 

When a new version of a training product is deemed equivalent to its predecessor it will be identified on TGA as “superseded and equivalent to” the previous version and will automatically be added to an RTOs scope of registration. If a training product is deemed not equivalent to its predecessor it will be identified on TGA as superseded and RTOs will need to make an application to ASQA to add the new version to their scope of registration.

 

In preparation for adding a replacement training product to scope RTOs should:

  • Develop strategies for the delivery of training and assessment that have been developed through effective consultation with industry
  • Ensure that trainers and assessors possess all of the relevant and required vocational and training/assessment competencies and can demonstrate industry currency in relation to the units of competency they will train/assess;
  • Ensure that sufficient, industry-relevant resources, facilities and materials to train and assess all units of competency in the training product are available

Other feature articles:

Planning essentials for RTOs

How to plan industry engagement activities effectively

Three planning resources every RTO manager should have in their toolkit

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.26-1.27

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/general-directions/learner-transition

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/faqs/transition-training-products

https://www.asqa.gov.au/rto/change-scope/transition-items

 

Five essential tips for evidencing trainer’s vocational currency

Five essential tips for evidencing trainer’s vocational currency

Trainers and assessors are responsible for evidencing how they have maintained, upgraded or developed new skills relevant to current industry needs (1.13b). RTOs must ensure they have systems in place to manage these records so as to adhere to the requirements of the Standards for RTOs 2015. RTOs are also obligated to engage with industry to determine appropriate activities for its trainers to maintain current industry skills and the frequency of these activities. This feedback should be documented and used to inform training and assessment strategies and practices.

Professional development:

RTOs should have a co-ordinated approach to the training and development of staff including providing professional development opportunities for trainers to enable the maintenance of industry skills. Implement a system in your RTO that has clear benchmarks for indicating appropriate and sufficient forms of evidence that also provides guidance around recency (as informed by industry) so it will ensure trainer and assessor records are compliant. Suitable professional development activities can include: undertaking accredited
training relevant to the industry area; reading industry journals and subscriptions; staying informed about changes to technology and keeping up to date with changes to legislation.

Working in and with industry:

It is important to note that delivering training and assessment in a workplace does not constitute the development of current industry skills according to ASQA.  Their advice suggests trainers attending a workplace to experience the latest techniques, processes and resources could contribute to the demonstration of current industry skills. Ideally your RTO should have a systematic approach in ensuring that trainers and assessors are regularly
exposed to industry workplaces and participate in workplace tasks. This could be done by planning opportunities for staff to engage with industry e.g. discussions with employers or attendance at industry networking events. Evidence of belonging to industry associations and participating in associated activities is also suitable. Trainers and assessors who continue to work in industry concurrently can provide evidence of secondary employment in the form of statement of services or letters of confirmation from employers.

Participating in networks:

Evidence of attendance at supplier workshops to stay current with products or the latest techniques / processes used in industry is a good way to demonstrate maintenance of vocational currency. Trainers and assessors who are actively involved in industry networks can provide documentation showing their contribution to these activities for their files.

Recordkeeping:

The most effective way to evidence vocational currency is to provide a mapping for each trainer and assessor that demonstrates current industry skills for each unit of competency being delivered and links supporting documentation provided to the elements within those units of competency. This documented analysis will provide a thorough overview of the trainer’s current industry knowledge, skills and experience. A good practice when recruiting new trainers and assessors is to conduct referee checks to confirm relevant industry experience and verify work history provided in resumes. This will ensure you are verifying that they have appropriate current industry skills relevant to the training and assessment you want them to provide. Your trainers and assessors files should be stored in a centralized filing system whether electronic or paper based so these records are easily located and
regularly maintained.

Monitoring and reporting:

RTOs should have a regular mechanism for confirming trainer and assessor records are up to date and compliant. Incorporating quality checks of these critical records in your internal audit program at least annually will ensure you are monitoring your staffs adherence to your policy / procedures and overall system. Your RTO’s systematic approach should also include reporting of compliance with vocational currency requirements so responsible managers
can monitor trainer file maintenance effectively.

Other Feature articles:

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/faqs/how-can-i-demonstrate-i-have-maintained-currency-my-industry-skills-and-my-trainer-assessor
https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/part-rules-evidence-under-currency-standards-refer-very-recent-past-what-does-mean-clause-18
https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.13-to-1.16
https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/fact-sheets/meeting-trainer-and-assessor-requirements
http://hdl.voced.edu.au/10707/248339

Critical steps in choosing the right RTO consultant to work with

Critical steps in choosing the right RTO consultant to work with

RTOs may seek to engage a consultant when they need special expertise or more accurate, up-to-date information not available internally. Additionally, your business may be unable to spare the time and resources to develop a project internally and you have decided to outsource these services, particularly when you are responding to an urgent matter like regulatory action by ASQA. You will want the consultant you engage to be an outstanding problem solver. After all, you are hiring a consultant to help you solve problems (or take advantage of opportunities). Sometimes it makes sense to seek the services of specialists, but who is right for your RTO? When selecting a consultant, follow these simple, but important, guidelines:

Professionalism:

Consultants need to be managed differently than freelancers, contractors, or employees. It’s important to find the right approach: as expensive resources, consultants need to be guided carefully, but, if you try to micro manage them, you can affect your relationship with them and stifle their productivity. These experts however are focused on your short term goals and outcomes and will get in and get the work done. The right consultant is a valuable asset who will work fast with limited distractions while being completely focused on your tasks. This enables your staff to get on with business as usual without the burden of doing additional project work off the sides of their desks.

Time Management:

In choosing your consultant look at how responsive they are at the beginning of your dealings with them.  Do they appear to be extremely busy and overwhelmed by competing priorities. If so you may risk having your project delayed or impacted by their inability to service you and meet your project milestones. If you discover you are not getting the results you need from a consultant it’s best to terminate your contract with them early and seek the services of someone who can deliver and meet your deadlines.

Communication Skills: 

The consultant you choose to work with your RTO should be able to communicate the technical aspects of your project in simple terms so you understand. In turn you should feel comfortable in asking for more clarification if you need them to explain what they mean in plain English even for basic questions. Ideally, a consultant that you can develop a long-term relationship with is advantageous as they will get to know your business and be able to respond to your future needs effectively and efficiently. If you are engaging a RTO consulting business and working with multiple consultants on a project you should ensure that they provide you with a key contact as this is particularly important when a project is composed of various stages or areas, especially when tight time frames are involved. Having a single point of contact is more convenient and less risk for you as the client. Ensure that there is an identified consultant who will be responsible for delivering your project, and that this person is not called on to deal with other issues and replaced with less qualified or experienced alternatives.

Expertise: 

A good consultant should have experience with the challenges or opportunities your RTO is facing. What the consultant brings to the table is experience in addressing the types of issues you face. You should determine if the consultant you are considering working with has the following attributes:

  1. Does the consultant’s technical experience match your needs? Look at the consultant’s educational background, work history, references, and portfolio of similar work. Has the consultant worked on similar RTO projects before?
  2. What is the consultant’s special area of expertise?  Does the consultant’s area of expertise match what you want them to do for you? Ask if the consultant has done similar work for other RTOs. Choosing a consultant with the exact area of expertise you want can increase the quality of the work and may reduce the cost. Problems with consultants often arise when they work in areas in which they are unfamiliar.
  3. What is the consultant’s knowledge of the vocational education and training industry?  Has the consultant worked in VET or relevant positions in the industry? Choosing a consultant who is knowledgeable in VET will improve the quality of the result and decrease the amount of time needed to achieve the result. However, don’t fall into the trap of assuming because someone has worked as a trainer and assessor previously that they have the right skill set to undertake internal audits or quality reviews for example.
  4. Will the consultant provide an independent perspective?  Will the consultant provide a perspective that is based on considered research or verifiable sources? Or, is the consultant apt to providing anecdotal information not able to be confirmed? Are they credible?
  5. Ask for a sample of the consultant’s work. Request from the consultant reviews and other materials they have created for other clients that relate to your project.

Other Feature Articles:

The essential guide to setting up a QMS in your RTO

Five questions you should ask before engaging contract trainers and assessors

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

Four key pieces of advice for RTO managers

Responding to an ASQA notice of intent to make a decision

References:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/working-with-consultants.htm

https://www.asqa.gov.au/rto/more-support

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/audit/can-consultants-provider-participate-audit

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/can-we-use-consultants-develop-course

RTO’s want international students to pay fees upfront while still offshore

RTO's want international students to pay fees upfront while still offshore

Some of Australia’s vocational training institutions, especially private colleges and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have emailed their students currently stranded overseas to deposit their fees or else their Certificate of Enrollment (CoE) may be cancelled

The essential guide to setting up a QMS in your RTO

The essential guide to setting up a QMS in your RTO

A good Quality Management System provides a centralised mechanism for managing an organisations policies and procedures. These quality documents are a collection of processes that outline how you do business and meet your customers’ expectations. A core function of a QMS is to manage its document control functions.

Quality Management System Framework:

The most commonly known framework used is ISO 9001 but unless your RTO is ISO accredited there is no need to create a QMS that reflects the requirements of these standards.  At a minimum your QMS should meet what is required of the VET Quality Framework and any other legislative requirements or regulatory obligations you must adhere to. The main components of your system should incorporate your quality manual or policies and procedures; your organisational structure; your document control processes and your internal audit / continuous improvement processes.

Quality Documents:

In addition to policies and procedures your quality documents can consist of but are not limited to work instructions; guidelines; templates; plans and forms. Quality documents such as policies and procedures are usually approved by document owners who are typically in RTO management positions.  Other staff can contribute to the development of the documents and provide feedback on the content as it is important to ensure buy in by staff who are going to have to adhere to processes or use the tools.

Document Control Procedure: 

Your RTO should have a procedure that sets out the processes for managing your quality documents or your policy and procedure library. This includes how you categorize the documents; the naming conventions used and numbering systems assigned to documents. It should also provide instruction on version control and also detail how often the documents are reviewed and updated to ensure they are fit for purpose. Controlled documents are needed for regulatory compliance purposes and are critical in ensuring your RTOs meets all legislative requirements or regulatory obligations.

Setting up your QMS:

EDministrate can help your organisation design, create and implement a QMS and create an efficient and effective documentation system or help you update your existing QMS to ensure it is fit for purpose therefore ensuring your RTO delivers quality products /services to your customers. Our Compliance Plan and Compliance Plan Matrix Template provides a reference to critical quality documents in your business that you can use to map how your policies and procedures ensure you meet all RTO compliance obligations.

Other feature articles:

Three planning resources every RTO manager should have in their toolkit

Planning essentials for RTOs

A business continuity plan should from part of your overall business plan

References: 

https://quality.eqms.co.uk/blog/types-of-quality-management-systems

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality_management_system

https://www.cognidox.com/blog/why-not-just-use-google-drive-as-a-document-management-system

https://asq.org/quality-resources/quality-management-system

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

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