We submitted our application to have the newest Cert IV TAE and Dip VET in early June. Since then, we have had a steady stream of people asking how we went about it since there seems to be general consensus that the whole thing is a bit of a mess, really (see image of my brain, above, taken during the process of putting together our application).
I’ll try to break it into some simple-ish steps that we followed, and then offer some thoughts on what seemed to work.
What did we do?
- Ensure that our house was in order
Prior to doing any activity related to the new application, we conducted a full internal audit to ensure that our house was in order. This was not too cumbersome since we have an ongoing cycle of compliance-related activity that involves weekly tasks and so things seem to get picked up pretty quickly. But it was important anyway to ensure that we had a strong foundation.
We started by taking ASQAs list of requirements and turned it into a Gantt chart to guide sequence our progress through the various tasks. We dedicated a whiteboard to the project and used it for continuous checklists, brainstorming and tool mapping (especially for the Assessment field of the new Cert IV TAE!).
We contacted current and past students who fit our “target demographic” and sought their feedback on our existing programs. We also sought the feedback from some employer/industry representatives.
Data from these people were used to identify the strengths of the current program, which perhaps ought to be retained, and those aspects of the program that could benefit from amendment.
- Program Draft I & Consultation
New Training & Assessment Strategies were developed for each of the Cert IV TAE and Dip VET to reflect the feedback received at Step 2 and validated internally. The target cohorts were very clearly defined within the TAS, including how we would ensure that new students fit those characteristics. These were then put back out to the same group to gain their thoughts.
- Program Draft II & Consultation
Following feedback, the Draft Training & Assessment Strategies were revised to a final version. These were then validated independently.
- Tool development & Consultation
Following receipt of the independent validator feedback, assessment tools were developed in line with the TAS. These were validated internally, refined, and then validated independently.
- Data collection and Independent Validation
We exported all of the enrolment/assessment data required to be included with the application, and conducted random sampling on those data to ensure accuracy.
- Independent Validation of Other Qualifications
For each of the qualifications that we had on Scope, we used ASQA’s sample size calculator to determine the number of student portfolios needed. These were collated with Tools and TAS, and validated independently.
What seemed to work:
- Getting our house in order provided a great starting point since we knew everything was in order and provided confidence of the team to know we had a solid foundation.
- Using a range of independent validators allowed for a variety of perspectives and also ensured that everything could be done quite quickly, when compared to one person needing to do it all.
- The initial consultation phase was very helpful in identifying the strengths of the current program, and to identify recommendations that were specifically from people who would be in our target cohort for the new programs. The response rate to the initial inquiry led to us being able to develop our new Training & Assessment Strategies with the input of about 20 highly qualified and experienced people for each of the Cert IV TAE and Dip VET.
- Circling back for a second round of consultation for the Training & Assessment Strategies helped to identify little bits and pieces that may have otherwise gone unnoticed until we started developing tools.
- Taking the time to clearly define the target cohort characteristics was critical, since it allowed us to evaluate the merit and suitability of the learning program, tools and resources that we being developed. Independent validators also commented on how these ‘avatars’ were instrumental in them better understanding the program’s intent.
- Having a small team doing this was instrumental in getting the process complete within our target 10 week period. Ensuring ongoing communication with those not directly involved was just as important, and helped to engender their support.
We have been through multiple applications to change our Scope of Registration, including numerous Training Package upgrades. We have a clean history of audit and compliance across all the various standards that have applied since we first were registered. All of our independent validations came back with favourable reports.
But, despite that we remain uncertain.
We do not know how long the application process will take, and we do not really know what the people reviewing our application are looking for. In that regard, our own vision is blurred by the lack of transparency in the process.
Against that, we are hopeful and remain determined.