Blog on Quality

Posted on 27th April 2012.

President’s Blog

Quality (or the lack of it)


At our Annual Conference we were addressed by Paul Joyce, HMI with responsibility for Construction. He surprised us by announcing that Construction was graded lower at inspection than any other subject area. (You can see his presentation on the BACH web site).

The issue of quality and what we stand for as an Association are directly linked and to learn that when assessed against national criteria we are falling short of the mark is totally unacceptable.

We have now arranged to meet Paul in July to discuss how we can address this poor performance. Some colleagues at Conference talked about having teachers who were outstanding and excellent at motivating students. They were willing to allow them to run sessions for other members on how they get the best from the students. Whilst this is really helpful I am not sure it will address the problem in the long term.

I believe that the problem is as a direct result of watering down the teacher training arrangements. There was a time when teacher training for construction was delivered by 4 institutions, Garnet, Huddersfield, Wolverhampton and Bolton. In these Colleges of Higher Education they had specialist staff that were from the sector teaching the best ways to deliver both craft and professional teacher training for those wanting to work in Further Education. I suspect that many of you will have been through this route. They were also responsible for the selection process which allowed students to do their Certificate of Education either pre or in service. Now we have many colleges and universities delivering the Cert Ed but not necessarily with the specific expertise in the subject matter.

The Association cannot support poor performance which results in many students failing to get a good outcome from their efforts. Put in context if you have a success rate of 75% this means that we are failing 25% of our students. It also means that when inspection reports are collated together the sector is being seen by Ministers and other key figures as a poor performer. This has a deleterious effect on our image and could result in us failing to get the support for investment and funding we urgently need.

We, as an Association need to consider how best to raise the performance of Construction Departments and put together ideas and proposals on how we might do this when we meet with Paul Joyce in July.

We know from previous presentations at Conference that some departments have achieved outstanding grades, what we now need to do is ensure that we increase the number of grades to good or outstanding over the next twelve months.

I know that you have a wealth of experience and in many instances can show excellence in some subjects. What we need to do is capture this good practice and work out how we can disseminate this to all our members.

Between now and July I (and other members of the NEC) would like to hear from you on what we should say in our meeting. If you feel that you can contribute in any way by releasing staff or putting on sessions in your region or nationally to highlight good practice then please get in touch.

Ray Dowd

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