Oxford Fire and Rescue Service has become the first Fire and Rescue Service in the UK to achieve approval under an innovative new quality assurance process which is set to make waves across the sector. The process is offered exclusively by awarding organisation SFJ Awards.
Fire and Rescue Services typically pay a development rate of pay to employees who are in the process of progressing to a more senior role, such as a fire fighter working to become a crew manager. In order to pay this rate, the development programmes must be approved by an organisation recognised by Ofqual. As an Ofqual approved awarding organisation. SFJ Awards has developed a quality assurance process, which Fire and Rescue Services can follow to ensure their development programmes meet the requisite criteria.
The SFJ Awards quality assurance process meets the requirements of the National Joint Council (NJC) as outlined in the NJC Circulars 09/05 and 09/11. Fire and Rescue Services and the Fire Brigade Union were consulted during the development of the process in order to ensure that it meets employer needs. In response to the views from employers, SFJ Awards has created a process which offers more than just an audit. By interviewing learners, managers and union representatives in order to understand the learning process from all parties, the process goes beyond a simple review of procedures against criteria. Its annual assessment requirement ensures that quality is maintained by fire and rescue services; and with an option to have a follow up feedback meeting with the auditor including a presentation of the findings to senior management, this new process really does add value to the fire and rescue sector and exceeds expectations.
Fire and Rescue Services following the process can be confident they have a strong infrastructure in place to deliver high quality development programmes. Following Oxford Fire and Rescue Service’s use of the process, services from Dorset, West Yorkshire and Bedfordshire have undergone the same process. In light of Sir Ken Knight’s ‘Facing the Future’ report on the review of efficiencies within fire authorities in England, use of the quality assurance process will also allow Fire and Rescue Services to make significant cost savings in wages and salary expenses.
SFJ Awards is the only awarding organisation recognised by Ofqual to offer this quality assurance process which is already making a great impression upon the sector as feedback from Clare Sellman, Development Manager at Oxford Fire and Rescue Service shows:“We understand that we were the first FRS that SFJ Awards have externally verified and we were very pleased with their professionalism and approach to the whole process.”
To find out more about our quality assurance process, please contact us.