EVALUATING EVERY CHILD MATTERS
A SELF ASSESSMENT TOOLKIT
LEARNING & SKILLS BEACONS
QIA INNOVATIONS PROJECT
NELSON & COLNE COLLEGE
Effective Approaches to Self Assessment Reporting
With Specific Reference to Evidencing and Grading
‘Every Child Matters’
AIMS OF THE PROJECT 4
THE FIVE OUTCOMES 6
SELF ASSESSMENT 6
USING THE TOOLKIT 9
FOLLOW UP 10
i) Participant Questionnaire
iii) Mapping Document
iv) AoC Guidance
v) ECM ‘Snap Shot
Nelson & Colne College …………. Leading the way in Learning
In July 2006 Nelson & Colne College was recognised as on e of the best colleges in the country. The College joined an elite band of
education providers, securing prestigious Beacon College Status. At that time, the College was one of only two Further Education
Colleges in Lancashire and one of only four nationally to have been granted Beacon Status by the new Quality Assurance Agency.
Only the highest achieving Colleges in the country can be awarded Beacon Status. They need to demonstrate that they satisfy
demanding criteria. Beacon Colleges are expected to play a key role in leading improvement, reform and change in the sector.
Application for Beacon Status is by invitation from the Minister of State only.
Learning and Skills Beacon Status recognises excellent institutions that deliver high quality teaching and learning and are well led
and managed. Beacon Status means that Nelson & Colne College is a top performer in the field
Nelson & Colne College became a Beacon College in July 2006. As a Beacon, the college was keen to be involved in the sharing of
good practice to benefit learners and improve performance across the sector.
In October 2006, the college was awarded innovation funding for a project to develop guidelines to good practice in evidencing and
grading Every Child Matters (ECM) outcomes during the self assessment process.
The project title was agreed in response to discussions with Lancashire Learning & Skills Council (LLSC) and colleagues across the
county regarding the embedding of ECM in the self assessment process. Nelson & Colne College had already established a close
working relationship with LLSC, having produced very successful guidelines to self assessment in 2005. Colleagues agreed that,
although much had been produced regarding how to evidence ECM, there was still very little consensus on how to evaluate a
college’s response to each outcome.
The ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda is a continuing national priority for the government and it needs to be dealt with as a full and very
significant part of the quality assurance process. It is now well established that Every Child Matters is central to the new inspection
regime. Ofsted have made it clear in publications and conferences that they expect ECM to be at the ‘heart’ of the college. Ofsted
will award grades for each of the five criteria when they conduct college inspections; although these specific grades will not be
published in the inspection report they will be reported back to the college. Inspections of colleges will also contribute to all future
joint area reviews (JAR) of children’s services.
AIMS OF THE PROJECT
• A shared understanding of the background to and significance of ECM in the self assessment and inspection processes
• An increased awareness of good practice in ECM
• Agreement on a common methodology for the evaluation and grading of ECM
• Development of an evaluation toolkit for each ECM outcome
• Mapping of ECM against CIF, NMOS, Framework for Excellence and the Skills for Life Agenda
• Increased confidence in grading ECM as part of the self assessment process and in preparation for inspection
Extract from The Handbook for Inspecting Colleges, April 2007 (Page 51)
Section B. Outcomes for children and young people
150. The evaluation statements in the CIF broadly cover the five outcomes for children and young people that will be assessed in
joint area reviews of children’s services. The CIF states that all inspections of institutions (other than those making provision solely
for adults) will contribute to the joint area reviews. The main purposes of joint area reviews are:
• to describe and analyse the quality of life for children and young people in each local area
• to evaluate the effectiveness of local services in improving the outcomes for children and young people.
151. The Children Act 2004 applies to all children; it also covers vulnerable adults, up to the age of 25, who may be in residential
care or physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged. The inspection of children’s services will focus on the provision and quality of
services for the more vulnerable groups of children.
There are two categories of vulnerable children defined for the purposes of children’s services inspections. These are:
• children and young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities
• children and young people looked after by the local authority.
152. Issues affecting the well-being of learners have always been central to inspection judgements. They are now more significant
following the Children Act 2004. Clearly it is not the sole responsibility of schools and colleges to ensure that children and young
people achieve these outcomes. However, they play a part, along with other local services, in facilitating their well-being.
Consequently, inspectors will evaluate and grade the extent to which the five outcomes for children and young people, up to the age
of 25, are being met.
THE FIVE OUTCOMES
1. Being healthy
2. Staying safe
3. Enjoying and achieving
4. Making a positive contribution
5. Achieving economic well-being
In judging the overall effectiveness of the college all five ECM outcomes are considered
Grades are awarded for each of the five outcomes and are recorded on the inspection database, as they will be used to inform joint
The grades are shared with the college but they are not published in the final report.
Colleges are expected to evaluate their progress against each of the ECM outcomes. These judgements each require a
numerical grade in Part 1 of the College SAR.
“Colleges are advised to make sure that evidence to support claims made against the ECM themes are clearly provided both in every
curriculum SAR and also summarised in an overview of the college provision.” Association of Colleges: Support for Success –
In the first year in which colleges included judgments about ‘outcomes for children’ within their SARs, there was – understandably –
considerable variation in practice.
Good practice guidelines produced by LLSC suggest that, as each of the five criteria should be graded, each section should also
include the identification of relevant strengths and areas for improvement with appropriate evidence to support the judgments.
Similarly, the SAR should incorporate quality improvement action plans for each of the five criteria as appropriate. This approach
should be applied at both whole college level and more specifically within individual curriculum areas. Grading is not, however,
expected at curriculum level.
In September a team from Nelson & Colne College, Preston College and Blackburn College met to agree on a general approach.
Initial attempts centred on a quantitative approach and the measurement of ‘impact’. However, although this is relatively straight
forward for Enjoying and Achieving in that data such as success rates and attendance can be measure against benchmarks and
baselines, there is much more difficulty in quantifying other elements. How do we judge destinations, for example? Is progression to
Higher Education ‘better’ than finding employment? Is the provision inadequate if a high percentage of students take gap years?
Are cross-college health campaigns ‘good’ in themselves or only if they can be proven to have had a positive effect? And, if our
refectories offer ‘healthy options’ but students continue to buy chips, then have we failed?
It is also essential to make judgements in the light of the college context. Every college has its own unique circumstances that will
necessarily affect the evaluation. These will need to be made very clear in the SAR and to inspectors.
After much discussion, it was agreed to adopt a ‘grade descriptor’ approach – a template with descriptors for each element and each
possible grade: Outstanding, Good, Satisfactory or Inadequate.
The group focused on the first outcome, ‘Being Healthy’, and produced a set of success criteria and grade descriptions. This was
then developed by Nelson & Colne College into a grading template for this outcome and the results were presented at the Lancashire
LSC SAR conference in October.
In March 2007 a national convention was organised to examine the grading template for ‘Being Healthy’ and develop frameworks for
all the other outcomes. Delegates from 26 colleges across the country met at the Tickled Trout in Preston, including representatives
from GFE, Special and Sixth Form colleges. Lively discussion and sharing of good practice was followed by intensive workshop
activities. The resulting materials were then circulated to all participants for testing and review and the group met again in June to
agree on a final format for publication.
During the second workshop the group agreed that a sixth template addressing cross-college elements would be useful. This device
would avoid repetition in the templates for the five outcomes and would also make it easier for department heads to apply the toolkit
to curriculum areas.
Final drafts were circulated in August and feedback incorporated into the completed framework.
A pre-project questionnaire (see Appendix 1) was returned by all participants to establish a baseline for the project.
Key Survey Results
• Most colleges incorporated ECM in SAR process but…
• Only 35% had graded
• 50% not comfortable about evidencing & grading
• Only 19% had identified strengths & areas for improvement
• 30% included ECM in observation process
• 35% include ECM in internal inspection
• Clear issues emerged about raising staff (especially non-teaching staff) awareness
A second questionnaire will be issued in January after SAR submission in order to evaluate the how far this project has assisted
colleagues in their self assessment.
USING THE TOOLKIT
There are no ‘right answers’. The response to the ECM agenda must be fit for the purpose and tailored to your own provision. It is
clear that inspectors will focus on the most important issues affecting each individual college.
This will depend on:
• The context of the college
• The issues identified in the SAR
Inspectors will look at:
• Documentary evidence - quantitative if possible
• Emphasis on learners’ views
• Sample of case studies of vulnerable learners
Templates are provided in both hard copy and as Word documents on a CD. They can also be downloaded from the college
website. It is recommended that colleges use the toolkit as a starting point to develop their own set of criteria for self assessment.
The added value is that this framework has been agreed by a broad cross-section of FE colleges and should therefore give more
weight and ‘objectivity’ should you need to substantiate your judgement to inspectors.
The pack, CD and web page also include Every Child Matters information from a variety of sources. You will probably be familiar
with much of this but we thought it would be useful to have it all in one place.
All the templates should be used to assist in the evaluation of the whole college response to the ECM agenda and in arriving at
grades for Part 1 of the SAR. Curriculum/Department heads will probably find the cross-college template less useful in their self-
assessment but, as good practice, should refer to it and feedback any inconsistencies n cross-college provision.
Nelson & Colne College would welcome feedback on the ECM Toolkit. Please get in touch and let us know if you have found it
useful or if you would like to suggest any amendments.