This page was developed to provide some key information to those working in the Department of Education and Skills/SOLAS funded further education and training environment for the first time. The information is provided under the following headings:
- Introduction to the Further Education Support Service
- Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
- Quality Assurance (QA)
- FET Programmes
Please note: the information in this page is provided as a guide only. It is not meant to replace the need for those working in a further education and training environment to engage with their provider, participate in provider induction or other professional development provision and to inform themselves about the context in which they are working.
Introduction to the Further Education Support Service (FESS)
FESS supports Department of Education and Skills/SOLAS funded providers* offering programmes leading to QQI certification from the National Framework of Qualifications, levels 1-6. You may find it helpful to access the following information/supports on this site:
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Calendar
- Module Specific Resources
- Thematic Specific Resources
- Assessment of Learners
- FESS Contact Details
* Where a provider is mentioned in this page, it should be taken to mean the organisation (ETB, Community/Comprehensive School, Voluntary Secondary School, Special National School, etc.) that is registered with QQI to offer FET programmes leading to QQI certification.
Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
QQI has responsibility for promoting quality and accountability in the further and higher education and training sectors. The following is an overview of QQI's services:
- Quality Assurance
- The National Framework of Qualifications
- Recognition (NARIC Ireland)
- International Education
The information leaflet QQI - Who we are and what we do provides an overview of QQI services and the organisations they work with.
QQI developments and updates are provided on www.qqi.ie and may be accessed here.
In addition to QQI certification, please note that there are a number of different awarding bodies used by providers, in the FET environment, in Ireland. Further information on these awarding bodies will be available from your provider.
Quality Assurance (QA):
In QQI's Policy on Quality Assurance Guidelines, April 2016, nine QA principles that should underpin the development of QA policies and procedures by providers are explained.
Providers currently have QA policies and procedures in place to which all FET staff managing, co-ordinating and/or delivering progammes leading to QQI certification must adhere. To support providers in developing appropriate QA policies and procedures, QQI has developed and published guidelines for providers which may be accessed here.
In some instances there may be a QA team overseeing the development, implementation and enhancement of QA policies and procedures within a provider. In other instances there may be one person with responsibility for this. It is important that all FET staff know who to contact in relation to QA. It is also important that all FET staff familliarise themselves with their role and responsibilities in relation to agreed provider QA policies and procedures.
"A programme of education and training is a process by which a learner acquires knowledge, skill or competence and includes a course of study, a course of instruction and an apprenticeship."
QQI Policies and criteria for the validation of programmes of education and training validation of programmes of education and training, 2017, p.5
Providers who wish to offer a FET programme, leading to a QQI award(s), must have the programme validated by QQI prior to offering it to learners. The development of a FET programme is the responsibility of the provider. In development, the provider will have ensured that the programme is consistent with the QQI award standard(s) and is in line with QQI validation processes. Information relating to making a validation application to QQI is available here.
Information relating to the curriculum will be included in the validated programme. The programme curriculum may be subdivided into smaller parts called modules.
Currently all QQI validated FET programmes lead to either a QQI common award(s) or a QQI apprenticeship award.
Those involved in the management, co-ordination, delivery and support of a programme must be provided with the most up to date validated programme (including individual module(s)), by the provider. This will allow them to familiarise themselves with all information required for their role. In the event that clarification is required on any aspect of the programme, contact should be made with the relevant person within the provider. This may be the QA Officer/team or other person.
It is the responsibility of the provider to maintain and/or enhance/update a programme, in line with the provider's QA policies and procedures. An individual or centre/college (for multi-centre providers) cannot unilaterally make modifications to a validated programme. Any modifications to a validated programme must be made through the provider.
The validated FET programme will include specific information relating to how learners must be assessed for QQI certification.
It is common for the person tasked with delivering a programme/module to also be responsibile for assessing the learners participating in that programme/module. This person is called the assessor.
Generally, assessment will be conducted as follows:
- learners of further education programmes will be assessed locally by the assessor using an assessment instrument(s) developed by that assessor. The assessor may find this link useful when devising assessment instruments
- learners following training programmes will be assessed using assessment instrument specification(s) (AIS) which will be provided to the assessor by the provider's designated person
- learners following apprenticeship programmes will be assessed both off-the-job and on-the-job using assessment instruments provided to the assessor by the provider's designated person
Assessors must operate within their provider's QA processes, particularly with regard to assessment policy and related procedures. The following areas may be included in, but will not limited to, a provider's QA assessment procedures:
- planning for assessment
- information to learners
- assessment deadlines
- secure storage of assessment materials
- records and documentation
- reasonable accommodation in assessment
- assessment malpractice
- learner appeals, etc
It is the responsibility of the person tasked with assessing the learners to fully inform themselves of the information relating to assessment, as it is provided in the validated FET programme and the provider's QA processes.
Following the assessment of learners, the provider will implement their authentication process, followed by their results approval process. The provider will then implement their appeals process and submit results to, and request certification from, QQI. Further information relating to the five key stages associated with the assessment process may be accessed here.
Key dates associated with the six QQI certification periods (February, April, June, August, October, December) may be accessed on www.qqi.ie.