In 2017 a series of eleven quality cases studies were published highlighting good practice amongst providers receiving Victorian Skills First funding. What do these case studies tell us?
You can access the individual cases at the bottom of the link provided here.
The case studies
These eleven case studies highlight four of the key things that RTOs need to address to foster high quality delivery. These are: (1) building teacher capacity and fostering professional development, (2) providing strong support and wrap around services for students, (3) linking effectively with local industry to ensure students’ education and training is as relevant as it can be and to open access to opportunities for high quality work placements and, finally (4) finding effective ways of sharing expertise and resources both within and between RTOs.
The case studies involved four TAFEs or dual sector providers (Box Hill Institute, Wodonga TAFE, Federation University and Holmesglen Institute) and at a number of community education providers – or Learn Locals – (Yarrawonga Neighbourhood House, Carringbush Adult Education, VFA Learning, Springvale Neighbourhood House, Campaspe College of Adult Education and the Learn Local quality partnership that involved eight regional Western Victorian Learn Locals in Geelong, Ocean Grove, Ballarat, Bendigo, Hamilton, Portland and Warrnambool.
The final case study was an industry association that is also a provider (Master Builders Association of Victoria).
What do these case studies tell us?
In reading all the case studies, and for me, the four big messages are these.
First, providers need to develop and maintain an organisational culture that is focused both on learner needs and improving delivery practice. That depends on good leadership. A provider’s staff are at the core of how well they deliver services. This means that they must be responsive to undertaking on-going professional development to maintain and build their capabilities and find innovative ways to provide a range of wrap around services to support their students – particularly those with learning and/or personal difficulties. It’s about having an organisation-wide commitment to quality and continual quality improvement. Five of the case studies were concerned with this issue: Box Hill Institute, Wodonga TAFE, Federation University, Yarrawonga Neighbourhood House and Carringbush Adult Education.
These case studies highlight how a range of complementary approaches are needed to foster professional development. These include supported access to higher level qualifications and a range of high-quality tools and resources that can help teachers develop knowledge and capabilities on an ‘as needs’ basis. Peer support, mentoring, strong and active collaborations and partnerships, and sharing expertise to drive quality improvement within and between institutions, all emerge as particularly powerful and important tools for fostering individual, team and institutional growth and development. In particular, the sharing of expertise helping providers to “identify effective ways of working together to improve the compliance and quality of their operations, and improve and increase their capacity to deliver quality training to students” was a particular feature the Victorian Learn Local collaboration so that they can build quality together, learn from each other and share resources, processes and insights. A key feature seems to be having an effective co-ordinating person to help this collaborative process.
Second, the concept of quality and quality delivery requires a focus on pastoral care with students having a ‘go to person’ and wrap around services to access when issues arise is very important. In addition, the use of effective and individualised student support and learning plans were initiatives mentioned in several of the case studies. Four of the case studies looked at this: VFA Learning, Springvale Neighbourhood House, Holmesglen Institute and the Master Builders Association.
Third, the effective linking of provider staff with local industries was highlighted in the Echuca-based Campaspe College of Adult Education case study, which looked specifically at commercial cookery and business training. In commercial cookery, the teacher concentrated on the skills local employers wanted, and he also worked hard to get students a good work placement. In accountancy, most of the students had relevant employment, so the teacher worked closely with these students to understand the particular needs of the business they work in to help them select course electives that helped address their specific work requirements.
Finally, making use of the student information held in Learning Management Systems enables student progress to be monitored and any issues to be identified and dealt with in a timely manner.