Quality Assurance

Donegal ETB (DLETB) is committed to developing a culture of quality, and ensuring that anyone participating in a programme of further education and training enjoys a quality assured experience.


Legacy Quality Assurance Policies

Following the amalgamation of Donegal VEC and the former SOLAS training centres in Letterkenny and Gweedore, Donegal ETB is currently operating under two legacy quality assurance agreements with QQI and is in the process of developing new quality assurance policies and procedures for the amalgamated organisation. For QA policies and procedures specific to each Donegal ETB Further Education and Training centre under the legacy agreements, please contact the centre in question directly. Contact details are available at www.donegaletb.ie.


Quality Assurance Development

Donegal ETB is committed to developing its new quality assurance policies and procedures in line with its strategic goals and priorities as outlined in its Statement of Strategy.


Revised Quality Assurance Policies and Procedures

The development of a comprehensive suite of common quality assurance policies and procedures for Donegal ETB will be a long-term project; as new common policies and procedures are developed and approved by the appropriate governance structure, they will be published on this page, and will supersede the existing individual policies and procedures which are currently available in each centre.


Governance and Management of Quality Assurance

Donegal ETB currently uses are largely executive governance structure. Oversight of governance is currently provided primarily by the FET Senior Management team.  The diagram below represents the current management and Governance structure within the ETB’s Further Education and Training service with some of the proposed new staff resources listed in red on the diagram.


 FET Staffing and Governance Structure 2017

The structure allows for the executive decision making capacity of the FET Senior Management Team to report into the Chief Executive/Director’s Forum. In turn The Chief Executive reports to the ETB board to update the board on developments within FET along with other matters.

The FET Coordinators team which represent all the full time and part time programme types and the 13 ETB FET centres meet monthly and this provides an additional layer to the current governance model.

Developments are currently in progress to develop new structures, policies and procedures to manage the governance of quality assurance in line with the requirements of QQI’s new Core and Sectoral QA Guidelines.  As new structures are developed and approved, they will be published here.



Quality Assurance Roles and Responsibilities

The Quality Assurance working group provide information and make recommendations to the FET Senior Management Team. They are primarily responsible for the development of resources and materials for programmes and in advising on assessment related matters and resource implications. Along with this they provide feedback on how the current QA systems are operating and discuss local QA policies and procedures as well as being informed on national sectoral projects by the Chair. The group is chaired by the AEO who sits on the national ETBI/QQI Forum. The chair of the working group has also been involved in a number of national ETBI led sectoral projects on quality assurance and disseminated this information out to FET Management, the QA staff, centres, schools and programmes. There is a comprehensive knowledge base and cross programme understanding currently in place within the ETB’s FET QA working group. This has been helped by the integrated nature of the ETB’s FET staff and the cross pollination of ideas between both training and further education. Qualifications approval of qualifications from other awarding bodies will become cross centre and programme as needs arise in provision planning. Knowledge can also be gained from other awarding bodies and the governance arrangement which they stipulate and these can be adapted to fit with the QA policy and guidelines developed by the Donegal ETB.

Following on from the findings of the Governance questionnaire undertaken by the ETB and external consultant a number of enhancements based on the reports findings and recommendations will be put in place to improve governance of quality assurance within the Donegal ETB.

One of the key improvements of this new governance arrangement will be for the objective oversight of quality assurance within the ETB. It will help to create a separation of QA responsibilities from the planning, decision making and approval role of the FET SMT thus allowing for improved objective oversight. An appropriate terms of reference will be developed for the new Quality Assurance oversight group and its composition will be made up of suitably qualified personnel with who have knowledge and experience of the appropriate resources and standards that will need to be maintained to support the delivery of programmes.

The QA Oversight group will have a reporting role into the CE/Directors forum in order to progress items as necessary onto the ETB risk register as required by the QQI QA Core guidelines. The proposed governance model is outlined in the diagram below and shows the inputs as prescribed by SOLAS and the FET strategy with the quality assurance process and procedures being adhered to in the programme design, development, approval, delivery, evaluation and governance required by QQI.


Proposed new Governance Structure

The need for a Programme/Course Approval Board is evident within the current governance model. The current QA working group does not have the authority to approve or recommend current programme proposals which may be part of a process of programme planning by FET management. Programme planning must also be aligned to the SOLAS overarching planning parameters which will allow for the funding the education and training programmes. The controls that would be required for programme approval are also dependent on the PLSS which at present has a function for senior FET managers to approve a course/programme to be scheduled on the calendar. This however at present is limited to serving as a commitment to approve the funding/budget allocation to the course. There is an inherent need for systematic programme planning to be built into this process and a vital component of this will be the formation of a Programme Approval Board. The QA working group can make recommendations to the Programme Approval Board for the development of materials/resources that are required to deliver such programmes. When such a Programme Approval Board is in place, it will be able to advise of the further resource implications for planning such a programme including CPD for staff/teachers.

Other stakeholder engagement groups such as the Enterprise Engagement group, Communications Advisory group and the DSP working group can also inform the Programme Approval group and integrate findings and R&D in progressing proposals to the QA Oversight group.



Programme Design and Approval

Centres wishing to develop a programme/module may make a proposal to develop a programme to the QA Working Group where consideration is given as to whether the development is in line with identified organisational goals.  The Programme Approval Panel and QA Assurance Oversight Group will have an important role in this process.  Once complete, the programme/module is evaluated against a range of criteria.


Quality Assuring the Assessment Process

ETBs are statutory authorities which have responsibility for education and training, youth work and a range of other statutory functions. Donegal ETB manage and operate second-level schools, further education and training centres, an outdoor education centre (Gartan OEC) and  Donegal Music Education Partnership.

ETBs are working collaboratively through the ETBI FET Directors’ Forum towards achieving the common goal of consistent high-quality standards in FET across the sector, through the development and implementation of a sectoral QA Framework.

One of the five goals within the FET strategy 2014-2019 is ‘Quality Provision – that FET will provide high quality education and training programmes and will meet national and international quality standards.’

The 2012 Qualifications and Quality Assurance Act 2012 sets out the detailed responsibilities that apply to the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) for quality assuring their programmes of education and training and related services.


National Framework of Qualifications

Qualifications frameworks describe the qualifications of an education and training system and how they interlink. National qualifications frameworks describe what learners should know, understand and be able to do on the basis of a given qualification. These frameworks also show how learners can move from one qualification, or qualification level, to another within a system.

The Irish NFQ, established in 2003, is a framework through which all learning achievements may be measured and related to each other in a coherent way. The many different types and sizes of qualifications included in the NFQ, are organised based on their level of knowledge, skill and competence. Because all NFQ qualifications are quality assured, learners can be confident that they will be recognised at home and abroad.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) has responsibility to develop, promote and maintain the Irish NFQ. QQI (www.qqi.ie) also facilitates the recognition of foreign qualifications.


Qualifications Frameworks in Ireland and the UK

The Irish and UK qualifications authorities have collaborated on bi-lateral and international initiatives that promote the transparency, recognition and mobility of qualifications between our respective jurisdictions. The qualifications authorities in the UK and Ireland have agreed the correspondence between qualifications frameworks in operation across the five jurisdictions. A joint publication, Qualifications Can Cross Boundaries indicates the level of a UK qualification within the Irish NFQ.



Awards and Accreditation offered by Donegal ETB

 Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) is an independent State agency responsible for promoting quality and accountability in education and training services in Ireland. It was established in 2012 by the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012.  The main aim is to promote, maintain and develop the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), a 10-level framework for the development, recognition and awarding of qualifications in Ireland.

City & Guilds

City & Guilds are a leading vocational education and training organisation, providing services to training providers, employers, and trainees across a variety of sectors to meet the needs of today’s workplace. City & Guilds offer thousands of vocational qualifications and apprenticeships that are valued by employers and delivered through over 10,000 training centres across the world. City & Guilds courses help individuals develop their talents and abilities for future career progression.

Professional and Industrial Qualifications

Donegal ETB FET Services offers specific industrial and professional qualifications that are required for employment in specific employment sectors. These courses provide learners with the knowledge, skills and competencies required to meet the demands of specific jobs.  Examples of sector specific training offered by Donegal ETB include: Access to Offshore training, OCR Accounts, Java Foundations Certified Junior Associate (Oracle), CompTIA Security+, ICS ECDL, ACE: Dreamweaver CS6 ADOBE, Kayaking Instructor Irish Canoe Union, ITEC Manicure & Pedicure/Make-Up Certificate/Diploma in Nail Technology, Microsoft Office Specialist, TIG Stainless Steel Pipe, Accounting Technicians Ireland, Mountain Skills/Rock Climbing BOS (Bord Oiliunt Sleibhe), Rescue Emergency Care, Kayak Skills (Irish Canoe Union), Powerboat Operations/Windsurfing Instructor/Dinghy Instructor (Irish Sailing Association), Vhf Radio Operation.

Donegal ETB is a Pearson VUE Authorized Test Centre and offers all the courses available on Solas eCollege.  eCollege is a leading learning institution that delivers online and distance training courses in business, project management, SQL, Cisco, graphic design, web design, digital marketing, software development and basic computer literacy.  eCollege courses are available to all learners and are particularly relevant to jobseekers, upskillers and employers.



The Donegal ETB Learning & Training Experience – Learner Supports

The Adult Guidance and Information Service offers impartial and confidential information, advice, guidance and counselling on the educational options that are available both within Donegal ETB and with other education providers. The aim of the service is to support the learner to make the right decisions about returning to education and training and to help the learner make those decisions within the context of their wider life.

If you are unsure about what course to do or need help in finding out which level is most appropriate for you then please call us on 074 9178088.  Guidance services are available at the Donegal ETB guidance offices in Letterkenny and Donegal Town and on an outreach basis by appointment in Dungloe and Buncrana.  For more information please contact:  deirdremccolgan@donegaletb.ie


Donegal ETB Staff Recruitment and Professional Development

All Donegal ETB courses are delivered by suitably qualified staff, with either Teaching Council recognition, or Train the Trainer certification as appropriate.  All staff are hired in line with Donegal HR protocols.

Donegal ETB is committed to growing as a learning organisation and ensure that all staff have access to continuing professional development opportunities. This includes enabling staff to enhance their skills, update competencies, explore modern teaching methods and collaborate with colleagues.


Information Management

Donegal ETB has data protection policies in place to comply with current legislation. Access to databases is by named and authorised personnel only for the purposes of entering data in local centres and for reporting as appropriate at local centres or centrally within Donegal ETB.


Self-Evaluation and Monitoring

Programmes are reviewed at the end-of-course evaluation at centre level. These reviews provide an opportunity to review assessment loads, assessment methods, and other aspects of course delivery, and where necessary amend these based on learner and staff feedback.

Currently, courses are monitored at centre-level with mid-course and end-of-course evaluations. This allows issues to be identified quickly and to be acted upon, and further supports to be put into place, should these be necessary. Internal Verification processes provide an opportunity to monitor the assessment processes, while the External Authentication and the Results Approval Panel (RAP) meeting provide opportunities for the monitoring of results and issues arising from that particular assessment period.

RAP reports are reviewed in collated form by the QA Management Group, which facilitates the identification of long-term trends.

Donegal ETB has completed an Executive Self-Evaluation of the entire organisation, and a report outlining the results of that self-evaluation is available here:


Engagement with Stakeholders and other bodies

Currently the implementation/working groups which the FET Senior Management staff have oversight of include the following:

Stakeholder and Working Groups

FET Coordinators Team-All programme types represented e.g., Youthreach, Apprenticeship, PLC, Community Education, Traineeship, VTOS, BTEI, Literacy,
Quality Assurance Working Group – All programme types represented e.g., Youthreach, Apprenticeship, PLC, Community Education, Traineeship, VTOS, BTEI, Literacy,
Results Approval Board/Panel – SMT and QA Coordinator/TSO
ETB/DSP Interim Protocol Group – SMT and Guidance and recruitment
Communications Advisory Group – Cross programme and ETB membership
Enterprise Engagement Working Group – SMT and programme staff


The Enterprise Engagement Working Group has been established to build and maintain relationships with employers in the region and was seen as an engine to drive feedback from employers on the ETB’s programmes and services. It was created to dovetail also with the work being undertaken by Regional Skills Forum. An important initiative that has been implemented arising from this relationship has been the launch of the ‘Employers portal’- (http://www.donegaletb.ie/employers/) on the ETB website where employers can feed into the ETB thus creating key stakeholder engagement.

The ETB in 2017 established a Communications Advisory Group whose purpose is to provide strategic direction on Donegal ETB’s communications structures and operations and to clearly communicate who Donegal ETB is and what Donegal ETB does.


Quality Assurance Update – Risk Management Workshop

Please click here for the Quality Assurance Update that was delivered at the Risk Management Workshop on 21st February 2018,