Feature Article: Why you need to conduct regular quality checks of your training and assessment strategies and practices

Feature Article Why you need to conduct regular quality checks of your training and assessment strategies and practices

Clauses 1.1 to 1.4 and 2.2 of the SRTOs 2015 require RTOs to implement, monitor and evaluate training and assessment strategies and practices. Quality checking processes form an important part of your RTOs overall self-assessment system and can provide an early indicator of compliance risks ensuring your RTO delivers products and services that meet customers’ needs and expectations.

Course Review: 

Your RTO should have a process in place to review your RTO’s courses at least annually and analyse data from enrolments; surveys; feedback; complaints and validation so you are effectively monitoring the quality of your training and assessment. RTOs should ensure they retain evidence of reviewing training and assessment strategies and practices and including trainers and assessors in the process is an effective way of doing so. 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.

Other feature articles:

Tips, tricks and tools for ensuring your RTOs assessment practices are compliant

Why you need a staffing matrix in your TAS’s

The role of internal audit in RTO self-assurance

Common non-compliances found in TAS’s and how to rectify them

Ultimate training and assessment strategy validation checklist

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: How to simplify documenting evidence of industry engagement and consultation

Feature Article: How to simplify documenting evidence of industry engagement and consultation

RTO’s must comply with Clauses 1.5 & 1.6 in the SRTOs 2015 by retaining evidence that demonstrates feedback has been obtained from industry stakeholders relating to training and assessment strategies and practices. Records of outcomes of industry consultation and subsequent changes made to RTO processes as a result should be stored appropriately. Evidence of your formal and informal discussions with employers and how you used their input should be kept so you can ensure your delivery is industry relevant. The following advice provides suggestions of how your RTOs interactions with industry can be documented and maintained.

Record of conversation template:

By documenting the conversations you have with industry stakeholders in a template you will ensure your evidence is provided in a consistent format. Your template should include verification of the input provided from the industry representative by having them sign and date the record. A representative from your RTO should also sign and date the record to confirm its authenticity. The record of conversation template should require your RTO representative to ask appropriate questions of the industry stakeholder that address the requirements of Clauses 1.5 & 1.6 so the feedback captured from the representative is meaningful and specific to relevant training products.

Evidencing consultation with industry stakeholders:

The SRTOs 2015 require RTOs to gather feedback from industry on the choice of electives, contexts, methods, resources and current industry skills of trainers and assessors for all training products on scope of registration. The input gathered from industry should be reflected in training and assessment strategies and practices. Using an Industry Consultation Record is one data collection method that will ensure your RTO can effectively record the formal or informal discussions held with industry. Whether done in person, via email or by phone documenting your engagement and consultation with industry will ensure your RTO has recorded meaningful feedback and is able to use that information effectively in your strategies.

Recordkeeping:

Maintaining your industry consultation records in a centralised document management system ensures you can effectively evidence your ongoing industry engagement activities. The records kept should both include past and recent industry feedback relating to your RTOs training and assessment strategies and practices. It is critical to ensure that your organisation has an appropriate record keeping system in place for physical and/or digital records so they are easily retrieved in the event of an audit or information request.

Other feature articles:

Effective industry engagement strategies for your RTO

Practical guide to developing your RTO’s industry engagement plan

How to evidence industry engagement and consultation for your RTO

Tips for implementing effective industry engagement strategies in your RTO

How to create an effective industry engagement plan 

Tips for evidencing that your RTO has engaged with industry

How to plan industry engagement activities effectively

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.5-1.6

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/what-evidence-do-i-need-demonstrate-i-have-engaged-industry-what-meant-range-strategies

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/do-i-need-engage-industry-outside-my-organisation-clauses-15-16

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/what-evidence-could-i-provide-show-trainers-and-assessors-have-current-industry-skills-clauses

https://www.aisc.net.au/content/industry-engagement-guide

Feature Article: Why you need a staffing matrix in your TAS’s

Why you need a staffing matrix in your TAS’s

Your RTO’s training and assessment strategies need to list the suitably qualified staff involved in the delivery of the training products on your scope of registration. You should identify your trainers and assessors including any third parties to demonstrate you have sufficient resources for the relevant training product as required in Clause 1.3a of the SRTOs 2015. Our advice explains why you need trainer matrixes and how to meet this compliance obligation.

Suitably qualified trainers and assessors:

You need to identify in your TAS’s the suitably qualified trainers and assessors delivering each unit of competency listed for the specific training product. By doing this you will evidence that your RTO has sufficient trainers and assessors for all training products on your scope of registration. You can document this by creating a staff matrix in the TAS or refer to where the information is located in an external document or system in the TAS. Your RTO should list each staff member involved in the training and/or assessment against each unit of competency. It is also advisable to confirm their currency status and reference any supervision arrangements in place. 

Trainers under supervision:

If you list trainers under a supervision agreement in your staff matrix you should refer to the arrangements in place so it is clear that they are only permitted to train in this instance. Referencing the location of the supervision agreements for the identified trainer/s in the TAS will ensure the arrangements are verifiable.

Recordkeeping:

You should ensure that your RTO’s trainer and assessor profile records reflect your TAS’s staff matrices.  The units that staff are listed against in the TAS should match the units they are mapped to in their competency and currency evidence on file. RTO’s can utilise staffing resources more effectively by recording this evidence at a unit of competency level.

Updating matrices: 

Your staff matrices should be updated routinely when changes are made to delivery staffing arrangements. Your TAS’s should accurately list the appropriately qualified staff each time trainers and assessors enter or exit your organisation. Implement a process that ensures you update your matrices in the relevant TAS’s as soon as practical.

Resourcing:

RTOs must be able to evidence for all training products on scope of registration that they have all resources required available all the time. This includes identifying sufficient trainers and assessors for the numbers of students in your programs. There are risks associated where you only have one suitably qualified trainer and assessor on staff for specific training products on scope of registration. Should the staff leave your organisation unexpectedly you would potentially be non-compliant with Clause 1.3a if you were unable to replace them easily. 

Other feature articles:

Pro tips for evidencing current industry skills of trainers and assessors 

FAQ’s about trainer and assessor competency and currency

How to document trainer and assessor equivalence of vocational competency requirements that will pass audit

Four-point checklist for compliant trainer and assessor profiles

Five questions you should ask before engaging contract trainers and assessors

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/resources/faqs/training-and-assessment

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

Feature Article:How to comply with Information Privacy requirements

Feature Article: How to comply with Information Privacy requirements

Clause 8.5 in the SRTOs 2015 specifically requires RTOs to comply with Commonwealth, state and territory legislation and regulatory requirements relevant to its operations.  This includes ensuring compliance with the Privacy Act 1988 and other state or territory legislation relating to privacy as referred to in funding agreements or other contracts that RTOs might have in place. Here are some important points for your staff to remember when dealing with requests for personal information located in RTO records.

Responding to requests for personal information:

RTOs should have a procedure in place outlining how staff are required to respond to requests for access to personal information from clients or staff or their representatives where the records are not able to be accessed by the requestor either online or in person. In these circumstances you need a clear process that enables the requestor to ask for the records either in writing or verbally. Your staff need to ensure they can verify the information being requested correctly and are able to determine where it can be found.

Verifying identities:

When responding to a request for information RTO staff need to verify the identity of the requestor before releasing any information so as to ensure it is not provided to an unauthorised person.  In the case of students requesting their own information your staff should verify their identity by sighting appropriate identification documentation such as a student ID card or any other form of photographic ID deemed appropriate by your organisation to confirm it is the right person before releasing information. When the request has come from another party such as a lawyer, job active or other organisation representing the student you should obtain written consent from the student in addition to verifying the requestor’s identity before releasing the information. Identity of parents or guardians should also be verified after confirming parentage or guardianship with the student prior to undertaking the check.  Sometimes there are very sensitive family matters at hand, so care and concern is required when processing these requests. Requests from law enforcement or government agencies should be processed once confirming the statutory reason for the request if the information required is needing to be released by law.

Releasing information: 

RTO staff processing requests for information from clients should be trained so they ensure they only release information under appropriate circumstances. Your RTO should have a procedure in place that clearly defines the steps required for responding to these requests that includes matters requiring approval by the CEO before being processed. Requests should be processed in a timely fashion and if the request is likely to exceed your standard timeframe the staff member processing the request should advise the client of the expected delay.

Records management:

All records related to requests for personal information (including all requests for personal information, evidence of identity and authority, and released information) should be kept in your RTOs record keeping system (preferably stored electronically). Records should be retained according to your retention and disposal schedules. Some contracts or funding agreements require a specific retention period of certain records so RTOs must ensure they comply with those requirements appropriately. 

Other feature articles:

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

Implementing systems for self-assurance

The essential guide to setting up a QMS in your RTO

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/rto/responsibilities/complying-legislation

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/compliance-governance

https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/australian-privacy-principles/

Feature Article: Tips for implementing effective industry engagement strategies in your RTO

Tips for implementing effective industry engagement strategies in your RTO

RTOs must engage with industry stakeholders relating to training and assessment strategies and practices as required by the SRTOs 2015 (1.5 & 1.6). Using a systematic approach will ensure your RTO is able to obtain appropriate input from industry about your training and assessment strategies & practices and trainer/assessor currency requirements. Here are some of the key components that your organisation should consider when implementing industry engagement strategies.

Industry Consultation Procedure:

A documented process that outlines your RTO approach to industry consultation will provide clear steps for staff in how they are to conduct their industry engagement activities.  Your process should ensure that the training your provide to students is industry current and relevant. The procedure should also ensure your RTOs industry consultation includes the periodic review of training and assessment strategies and practices so they accurately reflect the needs of industry and the expectations of employers. 

Industry Engagement Plan:

Your RTO’s approach to industry engagement should include development of an Industry Engagement Plan that outlines what industry consultation activities your RTO will implement for your specific delivery areas. This will ensure consistency in your strategy and identify appropriate activities that will result in meaningful feed from industry stakeholders being obtained. Industry engagement is an ongoing process which collates the data gained through your RTO’s formal and informal interactions with industry. Dealings with industry and employers, business development activities, business intelligence, market research and environmental scans all provide valuable information that contributes to ensuring your RTOs training and assessment remains relevant and reflects the changing and dynamic needs of your local industries.

Feedback Mechanisms: 

Data obtained from sources such as the Employer Satisfaction Indicator that RTOs are obliged to report on annually can be used to analyse feedback from employers on the relevance of the training your RTO provides. This process can contribute to your industry consultation strategies. Having a standardised industry engagement survey that your RTO can implement for use ensures you have a consistent mechanism to capture feedback from industry at scale that informs training and assessment strategies, academic planning, funding and business decisions.  

Recordkeeping:

The information you gather from your industry engagement activities should be documented and used to ensure that the training and assessment your RTO provides is industry relevant. Documenting feedback from industry in relation to training and assessment strategies and practices by using an Industry Consultation Record will ensure appropriate records are maintain that evidences meaningful industry engagement.

Other feature articles:

How to create an effective industry engagement plan

Tips for evidence that your RTO has engaged with industry

How to plan industry engagement activities effectively

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/standards/training-assessment/clauses-1.5-1.6

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/what-evidence-do-i-need-demonstrate-i-have-engaged-industry-what-meant-range-strategies

https://desbt.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/7774/srto-evidence-guide.pdf

https://desbt.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/12012/sas-evidence-guide.pdf

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

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

The SRTOs 2015 require trainers and assessors to have vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered and assessed as referred to in Clause 1.13 b. Vocational competency means trainers have the particular skills and knowledge relevant to the industry area in which they are delivering. Training Packages may also stipulate specific vocational competency requirements for trainers and assessors. This can include relevant industry qualifications and/or industry experience. RTOs need to ensure these requirements are evidenced and appropriate records are maintained that demonstrate staff are vocationally competent both at the qualification and unit of competency level.

They hold the exact units of competency being delivered:

If your trainers and assessors hold the exact units of competency that they are delivering then that is sufficient evidence to demonstrate vocational competency (so long as they also have relevant industry experience). Additionally, some training packages or qualifications have specific requirements for assessors to hold vocational credentials so RTOs need to ensure that these requirements are identified and evidenced appropriately. For example, to deliver commercial cookery units from the SIT training package assessors must hold a Certificate III or Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery. Another example is trainers and assessors who deliver TAE qualifications must hold either the Diploma of Vocational Education and Training or the Diploma of Training Design and Development or a higher level qualification in adult education.

Demonstrating equivalence of competency:

RTOs need to provide a documented analysis e.g. mapping  that demonstrates equivalence of superseded units held and/or other credentials held and/or work history (industry knowledge and skills) for trainers and assessors. This mapping should be at a minimum to the element level of each unit of competency being delivered. You need to ensure that supporting documentation that evidences credentials held and verifies claims of work history such as statements of services or references is also provided. Copies of vocational qualifications must be authenticated with the issuing organisation and records of verification retained on file.

Work history: 

Some training packages and / or units of competency have specific requirements regarding years of industry experience that assessors must have to deliver. These requirements must be evidenced in the trainers file for the training products they train and assess. If your trainer and assessor holds a vocational qualification without having relevant industry experience they will not be viewed as being credible and this can impact on student and industry outcomes for your RTO.  It is important that in addition to adhering to the training package requirements that you also seek industry feedback regarding what they view as the appropriate vocational qualifications and experience for your trainers and assessors as required in Clauses 1.5 & 1.6.  

Occupational licences and accreditation: 

For qualifications or units of competency with specific licensing or industry accreditation outcomes it may be a requirement that trainers and assessors hold a licence, ticket, professional body credential or registration relevant to the vocational area they are training and assessing. In this case it is important that RTOs ensure records of these credentials are regularly maintained and up to date in each file as they typically have expiry dates.

Other feature articles:

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/resources/fact-sheets/meeting-trainer-and-assessor-requirements

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/how-can-i-demonstrate-vocational-competency

Featured Article: Preparing your ASQA CEO annual declaration response

Submission of annual declaration:

RTOs must submit their annual declaration on compliance by midnight 31 March. ASQA has sent an email on Friday 21 February 2020 to each RTO’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO)containing a unique URL to the RTOs survey. A reminder email was also sent by ASQA to CEO’s on Friday 13 March 2020 advising of the requirement.

If the CEO’s email has not been received by your RTO check your details in ASQAnet urgently and take action to rectify any errors with contact details.  Notify ASQA immediately so the email with the survey link can be sent to the CEO. 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.

RTO obligations:

RTOs are required to adhere to Clauses 2.1; 8.1; and 8.4 specifically in the SRTOs 2015:

Clause 2.1

The RTO ensures it complies with these Standards at all times, including where services are being delivered on its behalf. This applies to all operations of an RTO within its scope of registration.

Clause 8.1 

The RTO cooperates with the VET Regulator:

  • by providing accurate and truthful responses to information requests from the VET Regulator relevant to the RTO’s registration
  • in the conduct of audits and the monitoring of its operations
  • by providing quality/performance indicator data
  • by providing information about substantial changes to its operations or any event that would significantly affect the RTO’s ability to comply with these standards within 90 calendar days of the change occurring
  • by providing information about significant changes to its ownership within 90 calendar days of the change occurring
  • in the retention, archiving, retrieval and transfer of records.

Clause 8.4

The RTO provides an annual declaration on compliance with these Standards to the VET [vocational education and training] regulator and in particular whether it:

  1. currently meets the requirements of the Standards across all its scope of registration and has met the requirements of the Standards for all AQF [Australian Qualifications Framework] certification documentation it has issued in the previous 12 months
  2. has training and assessment strategies and practices in place that ensure that all current and prospective learners will be trained and assessed in accordance with the requirements of the Standards.

CEO responsibility:

Whether the CEO completes the declaration on their own or in consultation with RTO compliance staff the responses provided should be honest and accurate. Therefore, reliable sources of data must be referred to when responding to each question asked in the survey. Information from the RTOs internal audits, reviews or quality checks are critical indicators of the RTOs past and current compliance status. 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 compliance and have analysed the data obtained by your compliance activities.

Self-Assessment:

If your RTO does not have current and reliable data on its compliance status you should follow ASQA’s advice provided in the correspondence sent to the CEO and utilise ASQA’s 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 experts like EDministrate to ensure you fully comply with ASQA’s requirements.

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/news-events/news/annual-declaration-compliance-open-until-31-march-2020

https://www.asqa.gov.au/news-events/news/regulatory-decisions-update-31-october-2017

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

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

https://www.asqa.gov.au/faqs/what-annual-declaration-compliance-clause-84