Stockton-on-Tees Council

Stockton Council Learning & Skills Service’s self-assessment and quality improvement planning was historically managed through a paper-based system comprising multiple ringbinders full of evidence, a fairly typical approach for many providers. However, they found that the quality of the self-assessment was not as high as they would want; the consistency of the judgements and the supporting evidence was incredibly varied and the process of cross-referencing evidence against multiple categories was restrictively labour intensive. This, combined with limited availability of staff training on best practice self-assessment and the Common Inspection Framework, led to a low quality, limited impact self-assessment and Quality Improvement Plan. 

Increasing the Quality and Impact of Self-Assessment 

On seeing Tribal’s continuous quality improvement tool, Actionplan+, the service’s Principal, Fabienne Bailey, saw how it could really smarten up how they conducted their self-assessment and compiled their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP). 

Fabienne Bailey, Principal: 

“I saw the online tool as creating a level, objective playing field, so instead of the process being either rushed or hampered by inexperienced/uninformed judgements, we could move to a robust, data-driven process that would be easy to engage with for all our contributors.” 

A better approach to 'Whole Service' Assessment and Quality Improvement 

Since adopting Actionplan+, the leadership team has been very much supported in their self-assessment and quality improvement plans. The embedded hints, tips and prompts in the tool have ensured users are able to make accurate, informed and robust judgements supported by relevant commentary. 

Compiling a ‘whole-service’ self-assessment requires less co-ordination from the leadership  team, with Team Leaders at Curriculum level having appropriate access and feeding in to the process via Actionplan+. 

One area in particular where Stockton Council has realised significant efficiencies is that of cross-referencing evidence to multiple criteria. Instead of ploughing through reams of paper-based evidence in ringbinders teams can simply associate a piece of electronically held evidence to support as many judgement areas as is appropriate. 

Sharing SAR and QIP with Stakeholders 

Another important area is the oversight that Actionplan+ affords. Through dashboard views the service’s leadership team can monitor and maintain progress in regular reviews. Equally, reporting to Directors, their elected member and the governing body is made far simpler, with stakeholders presented with a live Quality Improvement Plan and Self-Assessment; they can see the dashboard view of the organisation RAG-rated for performance and progress and can then investigate any areas of concerns by interrogating the underlying data that is all held digitally in a single location. Gaining an understanding of the service’s strengths, weaknesses, plans and progress is far simpler now.


The Service also maintains its own internal quality standards through Actionplan+, uploading their Business Support framework into the tool and formally improving their back-office operations. 

A Clear, Live View of In-Year Progress 

The whole process is more efficient and more visible; staff find it easier to contribute to and maintain, and other stakeholders can more easily derive understanding and benefit from the SAR and QIP. Fabienne is even in the position now where she almost welcomes inspection. 

“We’ve got the full evidence trail immediately to hand; we can see a clear, live view of inyear progression and we’re confident this all impacts positively on our learners as Team Leaders are more equipped and confident to make swifter improvements. It’s so much better now it’s all online.” 

Discover more about ActionPlan+