chapter  13
From systems to leadership
Pages 9

Quality developments in further education are mirroring the activity which is taking place elsewhere, both in the public and private sectors. A range of initiatives have been developed to meet the public demand for a consistently high quality of goods and services. There is a growing recognition that quality is the key to competitive advantage. Investors in People, the Citizen’s Charter, the Parent’s Charter, the European Quality Award, British Standards BS 5750 and International Standard ISO 9000 have been introduced to promote quality and excellence. Of course, further education has long had quality mechanisms in place. Most of these, though, have been external to the colleges and have mainly been the quality control tradition. HMI and local authority inspectors, and the systems operated by examining and validating bodies have all been important for the pursuit of quality. The National Council for Vocational Qualifications are now adding their own quality processes. The difference is that these approaches are external and imposed, whereas quality assurance is internally generated. Colleges are now taking the responsibility for the assurance and development of their own quality. They have recognized the need to demonstrate publicly to their many and diverse customer groups that they can deliver a quality education and training service. A number of institutions are also looking beyond quality assurance at developing total quality approaches aimed at creating a quality culture.