Driving meaningful improvements through a new approach to Quality Assurance

Hanga-Aro-Rau are driving meaningful improvements by taking a regional approach to programme endorsement and quality assurance. Standard-setting has historically been the responsibility of Industry Training Organisations, with little direct investment placed into quality assurance.  This resulted in a lack of resourcing to enable proactive engagement with training providers.  Hanga-Aro-Rau Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics Workforce Development Council (WDC) has turned this on its head by working closely with regional training providers across the motu to create a more efficient and collaborative approach.

“We are directly engaging with our regional providers, both onsite and online,”  says Yvonne O’Callaghan, General Manager of Improvement & Operations,  “While desktop moderation activity is a valuable mechanism to quality assure our qualifications, we gain another layer of understanding through seeing the environment our providers operate in, so we have prioritised investing time in visiting them.” 

This front-facing approach by Yvonne’s team marks a significant departure from the historical quality assurance model, and she says they are already seeing the benefits.  

“Within the old system, we never truly understood our providers and were having to make judgments about what their practices looked like on paper, rather than in the context they were occurring.  Our primary role has shifted from telling them when they’ve done something wrong to setting them up for success.  When I came on board with Hanga-Aro-Rau, I was invited to shape an innovative strategy to address where I saw the challenges within quality assuring our qualifications.   In response, we have established regional relationship managers to support our providers across the motu.  They connect in whatever way our providers need to ensure it is meaningful.  Now, when we are pre- and post-moderating or doing programme endorsement, we have a deeper understanding of the specific challenges of their environment, who their learners are, and the context of assessment or programme delivery.  If something doesn’t look right, we ring them and get them to talk us through it or, better still, visit them in their environment.”

With nearly 200 provider visits undertaken so far in 2022 and 2023, Yvonne says that the team has built meaningful relationships and gained critical insights across all types of providers.  

“Instead of simply rejecting assessment material that isn’t right, as we might have had to do in the past, we are now working alongside providers to help them rewrite it.  The result of building these relationships with providers is that we’re starting to see people coming to us for guidance at the beginning of the process rather than waiting for something to go wrong.  We’ve even had providers come to us with distressing External Evaluation and Review reports and asked us to guide them through a resolution.” 

This multi-faceted engagement approach has provided new channels for industry feedback and facilitated strong regional relationships that position Hanga-Aro-Rau as an integral part of providers’ internal quality assurance systems, Yvonne says.  

“This is not just a tick-box exercise for us.  Core to the Hanga-Aro-Rau quality assurance approach is to truly understand the uniqueness of each provider, the learning and assessment environment, their learners, and the different methodologies they provide.  We have a bird-eye view of the whole vocational education ecosystem that gives us a unique position to trace challenges back to the source and drive meaningful improvements that ultimately lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of learning outcomes.  We are committed to building relationships and increasing opportunities for all of our industries because only they can tell us how to drive improvements to the system to meet their needs. This approach supports not just providers and learners, but also employment and economic growth across the whole of New Zealand.”

As part of their nationwide engagement strategy, Yvonne’s team is spending the last quarter of 2023 undertaking a roadshow to visit nearly 300 schools throughout Aotearoa.  

“By connecting directly with teachers, we can be pre-emptive before moderation is required and also gain critical knowledge about their unique needs and challenges.  What’s come out of those discussions is an understanding of how different schools are from other providers.  They don’t operate in the same ways regarding unit standards. We need to work with our teachers and understand how, as an organisation, we can support them effectively and, in turn, lift educational achievement for all our learners.”  

Hanga-Aro-Rau will be providing online drop-in sessions for each unique category of our provider network along with our industry members to provide feedback that will help inform our focus for 2024. These sessions will become the norm, and we hope schools and providers will come along to discuss anything they need, to get support and guidance, or just to keep connected.

“Hanga-Aro-Rau is working alongside all of our providers to be more confident and build more flexibility into their delivery, creating a system that supports a more skilled and robust workforce.  This leads to better access and outcomes for students, more sustainable industries, and a more productive and healthy New Zealand economy.”

For more information or to sign up for one of our drop-in sessions, email us at [email protected]