How to create a high-quality educational experience

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As Ofsted recently stated, the most important factors in determining whether apprentices complete their programmes are the quality of the training and the experience. So how can training providers deliver against these expectations?

The quality of your training delivery depends on a wide range of factors, from what you teach to how and where you teach it. Providers need to make sure their trainers have relevant skills and experience, and that training is planned carefully to find a balance between on and off-the-job skills

There’s also lots to think about when it comes to the order you teach knowledge. As Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said at this year’s Annual Apprenticeship Conference:

“You need to think about how and in what order you’re going to teach the knowledge and skills. If your hairdressing apprentices need to colour a client’s hair, you obviously need to teach them the practical skills. But you also need to teach them the health and safety aspects around using colouring chemicals. And you’ll need to teach them the skills to hold a client consultation.”

Four ways to deliver a high-quality educational experience

With lots of considerations to make around quality and learner experience, what should you prioritise? Here are four tips from experts and other training providers on keeping quality high.

1. Think about how and why you use online learning

Online learning became normalised during the pandemic, and the majority of providers have incorporated it into a successful blended learning approach. However, it’s important to think about how and why you use online learning and self-study.

As Ofsted’s Amanda Spielman explained in her AAC speech, these learning methods can be appropriate when it improves apprentices’ experiences or prepares them effectively for work in their chosen sector. But, they can be detrimental to learners’ experiences when online learning is only used because it’s more convenient or it saves money.

“You need to consider the apprentice’s experience. Online learning and self-study can be part of that. But they can also be a toxic combination when they’re overused or used too soon in an apprenticeship,” she said.

“I know that many [providers] balance these factors well but failing to do so can damage apprentices’ motivation and enthusiasm. If an apprentice spends most of their first three months studying at home on their own, we can hardly be surprised if they drop out.”

2. Make sure your content is consistent

It’s vital to not only provide high-quality training but to maintain consistent levels. Apprenticeship provider Raise the Bar has used Bud’s programme management tools to improve consistency and create a frictionless experience for learners.

“Programme management within Bud has been a game changer for us. Previously our coaches were pulling together their own content which, although it was high quality, meant an inconsistent experience for our learners,” said Janette Healey, Head of Apprenticeships at Raise the Bar.

“Bud enables us to still use Raise the Bar’s unique content, but by uploading it to the platform, we can be sure that all our coaches are working from the same core content and that the quality is high and consistent. Coaches can still personalise the delivery to each learner, but we know that the key models and assessments will be covered and evidenced.”

Bud enables us to still use Raise the Bar’s unique content, but by uploading it to the platform, we can be sure that all our coaches are working from the same core content and that the quality is high and consistent.

Janette Healey, Head of Apprenticeships at Raise the Bar

3. Support learners with additional learning needs

Delivering a high-quality educational experience as an organisation means doing your best to effectively support every learner.

As Richard Moore, Further Education and Skills Consultant said in a Bud webinar earlier this year, there’s a “noticeable trend” of Ofsted inspectors looking at how effectively learners with additional learning needs are supported.

Many providers don’t claim Additional Learning Support (ALS) funding because they’re worried about eligibility criteria or providing the right evidence. Instead, it’s fairly common for providers to offer ad-hoc learning support where they can, and write off costs (such as extra equipment) as lost overheads.

However, this kind of improvised support likely won’t tick the Ofsted box of a high-quality educational experience. Without a clear structure for ALS that is backed by funding, it’s hard to:

  1. Ensure your support is consistent
  2. Establish systems to track learner outcomes and improve support accordingly
  3. Evidence to Ofsted that you’re delivering additional support

“The inspectors won’t examine your funding claims – that is ESFA territory. But they will talk to relevant learners and training staff about how well supported they feel, and may well ask to see detailed records of the support you are providing them with,” Richard said.

Richard suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • What evidence do you have for inspectors of the discussions that take place to devise additional support plans for learners where appropriate?
  • What evidence do you have for inspectors of how you deliver this support and what impact it has on learners?

Read the full article: How claiming ALS raises the standard of support for learners

4. Maintain high standards at scale

If you’re delivering training at scale, it can be tough to maintain quality standards. Being able to see learner progress at a glance is critical to spotting and acting on potential issues.

Training provider Skern Training and Skills uses Bud’s RAG (red, amber, green) rating system to quickly see which learners are on track and which ones aren’t. The system has allowed Steve Randles, Head of Education and Quality, to set clear expectations around quality for his team and keep them motivated.

“One of my main drives is to set an expectation that everything in Bud should be RAG rated green. In reality, there will be the odd learner who is red or amber, but it’s about knowing why and ensuring this only affects one or two, not thirty or forty,” he said.

Boost learner experiences with Bud

Bud is an end-to-end solution that helps you manage and deliver apprenticeships. Our intuitive platform can be accessed from any device, at any time, empowering your learners to take an active role in their education from the start.

See the platform in action by booking a free demo here.

Want more expert insight and tips on creating a high-quality educational experience? Visit our webinars and events portal to catch up on the latest webinars.