Controlling quality

There are two aspects of quality. The first is simply the nuts and bolts: has the individual actually done the courses or had the training as described; does the course actually cover the topics and to the depth claimed? For courses there is external scrutiny, which is something well developed in university courses through the institution of the 'external examiner' and I would propose that this is the mechanism that we could continue to use, perhaps giving the external examiner some additional payment for the relatively small amount of work which would be involved. There should also be internal scrutiny, in the form of feedback from the users - those attending courses, or employers who are sending their staff on the course - have they actually learnt anything? Again, for universities such feedback is a normal part of procedures, but we will need to think of mechanisms (via IFA or ATF?), of accreditation or recognition of non-university courses and training.

The second aspect of quality is in terms of the inspirational quality of the teaching, and the learning ability of the learner. It is possible for someone to attend a lecture or read a book without absorbing its message, or understanding the content. One way of judging this is through formal examinations (and I would suggest in the university context that the 'pass' for professional recognition should be class 2-2 or above), but clearly this is neither desirable nor feasible for much of our learning. In part we can take it on trust that if someone has demonstrated ability in more formal circumstances, they will be able to read and learn critically; in part it will be judged by subsequent performance. Under the British system, this will be covered by the portfolio of work, and also in the form of written references from employers or teachers. Through a system of 'recognition', and through its Code of conduct, the IFA will be able to insist that no course will be recognised unless the person giving it is competent in that subject. As for the inspirational quality of the teaching, this really can only be done as it is at present, through the reputation of the individual teacher or the institution. No system, however detailed, will be perfect, and we must simply accept this.

Another way in which quality can be controlled is through contracts of employment. On the employer's side there will be a statement of what is expected from the employee (i.e. the roles), what skills will be needed to carry out those roles, and a statement about what training will be on offer. On the employee's side there will be a statement of what skills that individual claims to possess. If either side is found to be practising deception, disciplinary or punitive action can be taken (dismissal, reporting to the IFA or, at the extreme, a court case).


© Internet Archaeology URL:
Last updated: Mon Jul 29 2002