Quality assurance is anything that a provider does to maintain, improve and ensure the quality of the learner experience and its outcomes for the learner, while policies and procedures are the documented approach to achieving this. Quality assurance policies and procedures operate at all levels, and provide guidance to management and staff on how to approach their work.
Background to QA Developments
There is a new regulatory and legal context to quality assurance including the enhanced corporate role for City of Dublin ETB. Previously City of Dublin ETB colleges and services were providers in their own right and had quality assurance (QA) agreements directly with the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), which preceded QQI.
In 2012, FETAC was taken into the Qualification and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQI) along with other previous statutory bodies. QQI is an awarding body but also the external quality assurance agency for all education and training providers in Ireland including City of Dublin ETB.
City of Dublin ETB was established under The Education and Training Boards Act 2013. Following ministerial approval, the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee was officially dissolved as of 1st July 2013 and the City of Dublin Education and Training Board was officially established. City of Dublin ETB is the statutory and primary provider of programmes of Further Education and Training (FET) in Dublin City.
In 2014, Regularisation of Arrangements Agreements were signed between all ETBs and QQI. City of Dublin ETB took on the provider role and responsibility for previous college and service QA agreements and must move towards a more ‘unified system’ of QA. This required City of Dublin ETB to move from the 22 legacy QA agreements to four consolidated QA procedures governing four services Adult Education Service and Education Service to Prisons, Colleges of Further Education, Youthreach and Training Centres.
The Chief Executive is supported by the Senior Management Team including the FET Director(s) has executive authority and reports to the Board of City of Dublin ETB on strategic planning and QA developments in-line with the approved City of Dublin ETB Further Education and Youth Services Strategy (2015-2020). This corporate strategy is approved by the Board on a 5 year basis and provides for the highest level statement of strategy, and includes the following key goals for City of Dublin ETB are to:
- Continue to develop and provide inclusive, professional, high quality education, training and youth services in Dublin City.
- Deliver programmes that provide suitable qualifications for, and progression routes into more advanced education courses, training programmes and employment.
- Be recognised as a primary provider of such courses and programmes in Dublin City.
- Develop a comprehensive youth service in Dublin City.
- Have in existence a well-managed, efficient and fully accountable national awarding authority for student grants.
City of Dublin ETB must also adhere to the ETB Code of Governance published by the Department of Education and Skills, which places a strong emphasis on risk management. City of Dublin ETB is required to evaluate risk as part of effective risk management, and the Risk Management Policy should takes account of the risks to the ETB that would significantly obstruct or undermine the achievement of its objectives as set out in the strategy statement. This includes risk registers for every centre with the FET Director responsible for risk management at corporate level, and reports to the City of Dublin ETB Audit Committee which then reports such matters to the City of Dublin ETB Board. The Board then, articulates and approves the response to the identified risk. Financial planning oversight occurs through the City of Dublin ETB Finance Committee, which also reports to the Board of City of Dublin ETB.
There are 5 service spheres within City of Dublin ETB further education and training services which include:
- The Training Centres which provide training services directly and which includes indirect provision of training through the management of contracted training and funding provision to community providers including LTIs, and CTCs which operate City of Dublin ETB QA system (TQAS)
- The Adult Education Service providing programmes directly and indirectly through the funding of community providers operating their own quality assurance systems
- The Prison Education Service and
- The Colleges of Further Education
There are management teams for each service and centre, which reflects the nature of their service, and includes monthly management team meetings. These teams provide for the strategic planning at service and centre level in conjunction with the FET Director with responsibility for the service and represent the core management structures with relevant lines of authority. The Principal of each recognised school which include Colleges of Further Education report to their own Board of Management. These Boards of Management are classed as City of Dublin ETB sub-committees, which also includes inter alia the City of Dublin Youth Services Board, and also report directly to the Board of City of Dublin ETB. These sub-committees provide independent oversight at school and in some cases service level. City of Dublin ETB Board approval is required for their activities as per the Education and Training Boards Act 2013. The Board of City of Dublin ETB approves the agreed City of Dublin ETB Further Education, Training and Youth Services Strategy every 5 years.
Collective planning structures which operate at a supra serve or ETB level include:
The FET Quality Assurance and Strategic Planning Council (QASPC) will form Subgroups reporting into it as required. The Groups required are as follows:
a) The Quality Assurance Development Group (QADG) will focus on the development and enhancement of the QA Policy and Procedures.
b) The Strategic Performance Development Group (SPDG) will have overall responsibility for monitoring and supporting the achievement of agreed CDETB-SOLAS FET targets.
c) The Programme Management and Development Committee (PMDC) will focus on the need to manage the existing QQI programmes and to recommend and oversee development of new programme proposals. This will enable quality assured programme development and facilitate the re-validation of existing programmes in a strategic manner within the context of CDETB Strategic Planning. Programme development will be monitored by this group.
d) CDETB-led programme boards will report on the quality and delivery of validated programmes for which City of Dublin ETB is the lead/ co-ordinating provider.
CDETB Level Quality Assurance Procedures
QA Memo on Quality Assuring Assessment During Covid February 2021
CDETB Policy on Blended Learning
CDETB QA Governance Structures November 2019
QA Guidelines Assessment Malpractice for Colleges of Further Education
- Course Programme Centre Service and Institutional Review Policy Procedures and Support
- QA Procedures for FE Colleges
- Training Centres Transitional Quality Assurance Procedures
- QA Adult Education and Prison Education
- Youthreach Quality Assurance Policies and Procedures
- College Centre Service Sphere QA Group Team TOR
- QA Guidelines Assessment Guidelines
- City of Dublin External Appeals Handbook 2023
- Learner External Appeals Application Form (Word) 2023
City of Dublin ETB’s programme development policy enables City of Dublin ETB to pursue key strategic planning goals for service provision to meet learner needs within Dublin City. It is important that the necessary level of co-ordination is achieved to ensure over supply does not occur which can undermine existing delivery. We must also endeavour to ensure course development occurs in line with the needs of learners in the City. It is essential that co-ordination occurs from the learner perspective – which is course offering. City of Dublin ETB is committed to supporting centres in developing their course offering to best meet the evolving needs of learners in Dublin City.
The City of Dublin ETB Programme Management Development Committee (PMDC) oversee the development of new programmes in line with relevant sectoral agreements. Please contact the FET Development Unit for additional information.
- CIA Applications for 2024-2025 – Autumn Cycle [OPENS 9 – 27 OCT]
- CIA Applications for 2024-2025 – Spring Cycle [OPENS 29 JAN – 16 FEB]
- CIA Procedures – Course Innovation Application for CIty of Dublin ETB
- CIA Consultation Padlet for Feedback to applications
- Blended Learning Procedures for Light, Medium and Strong blends in City of Dublin ETB
- CIA Application Process Poster
- QA FET Assessment Guidelines (Assessment/deadlines/extensions/repeats/reasonable accommodations and supports)
- FET Internal Verification including AA February 2021(09FEB)
- CDETB External Appeals Process Handbook 2023
- Learner External Appeals Application Form (Word) 2023
- EA Guidelines for External Authentication 20 March 2023
- External Authenticator Checklist 2023
- EA Report Form 20 March 2023
- EA Briefing March 2023
- EA Briefing March 2023 – UDL and Academic Integrity
- EA briefing session 2023 (video)
All staff are recruited in line with national regulatory requirements, including Teaching Council Registration and agreed Human Resource processes. Once part of the organisation Teaching and Training Staff are supported and encouraged to engage in Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to ensure their skills are up to date and that they also have industry knowledge. Staff taking part the externship visiting programme is one form of CPD encouraged by City of Dublin ETB as it provides them with an opportunity to experience and share practices with industry counterparts in the relevant field of learning.
Continuous Professional Development is provided through the City of Dublin ETB Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) and the Further Education Support Service (FESS). City of Dublin ETB provides supports staff completing further training and education externally. The Department of Education and Skills also provides support for staff pursuing further qualifications through the Teacher Refund Scheme.
ePathways CPD Model and Policy
Application for funding non-CDETB organisation.pdf
When centres are applying for approval to deliver new courses, they are required to provide a rationale and evidence of consultation. This data informs decision making in relation to approving new courses.
City of Dublin ETB, is recently established a Research and Data Analytics Unit, to provide for the use of data being captured in a variety of systems and for this to inform strategic planning at corporate level.
Monitoring is considered to be:
A continuing function that aims primarily to provide managers and main stakeholders with regular feedback and early indications of progress or lack thereof in the achievement of intended results. Monitoring tracks the actual performance or situation against what was planned or expected according to pre-determined standards. Monitoring generally involves collecting and analysing data on implementation processes, strategies and results, and recommending corrective measures .
Self-Evaluation is defined as:
Any process or methodology carried out by a (of a FET provider) FET provider under its own responsibility, to evaluate its performance or position in relation to two dimensions:
- an internal dimension (ʻmicro levelʼ) that covers services, internal staff, beneficiaries or clients, policy and/or internal organisation, development plan, etc.; and
- an external dimension (ʻmacro levelʼ) that covers analysis of the educational offer of this institution compared to others: relationship with the territorial system of actors (local decision-makers, unions, local governments, type of labour market and needs of VET, information network, type of populations interested in a learning offer and evolution of the needs, main results of work at national and European levels in the VET sector).
City of Dublin ETB is committed to the processes of evaluating its own performance and centre lead programme self-evaluation processes are part of legacy centre level procedures. There is also a monitoring and self-evaluative dimension provided for in the procedures for conducting Exam Board and Results Approval Panel meetings, in terms of reviewing how programmes have performed over the previous cycle. These procedures have been extensively reviewed and re-developed to strengthen the processes at College and Centre level. It is the aim of City of Dublin ETB to strength these processes further.
City of Dublin ETB conducted an Executive Self–Evaluation on quality assurance at corporate level. The findings of this can be accessed here: Executive Self-Evaluation CDETB
The City of Dublin ETB Quality Improvement Plan 2020 is available here: CDETB – Quality Improvement Plan 2020
Centres are required to monitor courses from the perspective of programme validation, course approval and information to learners. A monitoring and self-evaluation tool was created for this purpose and issued to all centres.
Quality Maintenance Enhancement and Assurance; Self-Evaluation, Monitoring and Review Policy and Procedures
In June 2020, City of Dublin ETB carried out a review of the impact of Covid-19 on teaching, learning and assessment. This report is available here: Informing The Future – Review of CDETB’s Reponses to the COVID 19 Emergency
References: UNDP, Evaluation Office, New York, 2002. http://web.undp.org/evaluation/documents/handbook/me-handbook.pdf  Cedefop (2011). Glossary : Quality in education and training, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Further Education and Training Sector
Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are statutory bodies that are required to review, plan, co-ordinate and deliver further education and training within their functional areas. Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are operating as newly formed statutory bodies within a sector that has been the subject of seismic change and reform in last number of years.
Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI)
ETBI is the National Representative body for ETBs. City of Dublin ETB works with other ETBs to devise sectoral responses to common issues in the main through its representative body Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI). Programme development is an area where there is a long history of collaboration. It has also been working on QA issues through the ETBI QA Steering Group under the remit of the FET Directors Forum. A number of sectoral QA projects have commenced including examination of a new External Authentication model. A member of the FET Development Team is on the ETBI QA Forum to examine the practical implications and to engage on an operational level with sectoral QA responses.
SOLAS is the Further Education and Training Authority that has responsibly for sectoral strategic planning and funding. It was established by the Department of Education and Skills under the Further Education and Training Act 2013. The latter provided for the dissolution of FÁS and the transfer of former FÁS Training Centres and their staff to relevant ETBs. SOLAS was required to propose a five year strategy for the provision of FET, The Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019 is available here: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Further-Education-and-Training-Strategy-2014-2019.pdf
SOLAS in conjunction with the sixteen Education and Training Boards, is responsible for the integration, coordination and funding of a wide range of further education and training programme.
Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQI)
QQI is a state agency established by the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012 with a board appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills. QQI carries out functions which were formerly those of the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC); the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC); the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI). QQI has a number of functions, it is the External Quality Assurance Agency, the Statutory Awarding Body and it maintains the National Framework of Qualifications.
Department of Education and Skills
All the new statutory bodies are operating under the auspices of the Department of Education and Skills (DES). DES therefore has a key role in terms of policy co-ordination in the Further Education and Training (FET) sector.
FESS – Further Education Support Service.
This is a national service set up to support the work of City of Dublin ETB individually and work being carried out nationally especially in areas of programme development and quality assurance initiatives e.g. the training of External Authenticators, Programme Evaluators, the development of national teaching resources such as the Programme Module Specific Resources.
Other Stakeholders within the FET Sector
- Staff – including their representative bodies e.g. Trade Unions
- Industry and Professional Bodies
- Other State Departments and Regulatory Bodies E.g. Intreo
- Other Awarding Bodies e.g City and Guilds, ITEC and BTEC
- Higher Education Institutions
- Leargás and other European Partners, including employers and FET institutions
- Communities within Dublin City
Progression to Further and Higher Education Institutions
City of Dublin ETB has a long history of providing progression paths for learners into further education and higher education courses. Learners will often go on to access the labour market upon completion of their degree or masters courses. Partnerships with HEI is a key part of ensuring progression for FET graduates. Recent developments in this area include the development of the Maths for STEM programme by City of Dublin ETB, in conjunction with QQI, and representatives of an expert group from DIT, UCD, Trinity and Engineers Ireland. The purpose of this programme is allow learners another opportunity to develop competencies in maths to facilitate progression onto STEM degree programmes. This is just one example of the positive working relationship between Further Education and Higher Education (HE).
Supporting Community Providers
Many years ago City of Dublin ETB made a strategic decision to collaborate and support other community education and training providers within its region. Such a decision was based on the strong belief that community providers are essential in the successful delivery of FET programmes especially at the lower levels on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). City of Dublin ETB still recognises the important role that these community providers can play in achieving European and national goals in terms of achieving greater participation in FET programmes by vulnerable groups.
City of Dublin ETB funds such community education providers because these organisations are embedded and active in their communities in way that a City of Dublin ETB service would struggle to achieve. These organisations have built up a high degree of social capital within their communities by having built up a solid reputation for providing relevant education programmes in their communities, a deep understanding their client base and the trust and confidence this inspires within their communities. The extensive social networks which have been built up by these organisations within their communities is also a key part of their success in meeting the education and training needs of the of the different groupings within their communities. It is this significant social capital which enables them to draw in some of the most vulnerable learners who are often at the greatest distance from accessing the labour market or further and higher education.
Engagement with Employers and other Stakeholders as part of Programme Design, Development and Delivery
City of Dublin ETB works closely with employers and employer representative bodies though the Regional Skills Forum and through other networks. CDETB centres also engage directly with local employers in relation to work based learning elements of programmes, employer inputs to programmes and all Colleges and Training Centres have employer representatives on their Boards. CDETB centres also organise Employers Fora, Industry Days, Skills Days and job fairs.
The continued development of Traineeships and Apprenticeships also facilitates even closer working relationships with employers.
City of Dublin ETB is also guided by the work of the Apprenticeship Council and the Expert Group of Future Skills. These stakeholder relationships are essential to meet the objectives set out in Ireland National Skills Strategy, to ensure FET programmes lead graduates to quality roles with positive career paths in industry, through direct access or via higher education institutions.
City of Dublin ETB also provides programmes for people in employment in conjunction with employers such as the Apprenticeship programmes, the Skills for Work programmes, part-time programmes through the evening training programmes and the tailored programmes in conjunction with employers in specific areas such as retail, construction and hospitality.
City of Dublin ETB also participates in European led initiatives such as ERAMUS to promote student mobility within the EU, which are funded through Leargas. City of Dublin ETB is also engaged in other European lead capacity building projects such as Blend4VET and TELMS, which have a focus on the use of technology for enhancing FET provision.
Please see relevant sections in the City of Dublin ETB Executive Self-Evaluation Report.
Please also see:
The Regional Skills fora http://www.regionalskills.ie/
For more information on Apprenticeships http://www.apprenticeship.ie/en/about/Pages/About.aspx
European Mobility Programmes https://www.leargas.ie/
If you are an employer and interested in engaging with City of Dublin ETB in relation to programme development and providing opportunities for work based learning, please contact the City of Dublin ETB Employer Engagement Unit at phone number 01 8322835.