Smart Assessor user and Quality Administration Apprentice Ethan Warrilow tells us what a typical day in his role consists of.

At the age of 16, I had decided that the sixth form attached to my school was the logical next step in my journey through education. In light of this decision, I enrolled on A-Levels in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths. I enjoyed studying these subjects as I was passionate about a future in science and technology but around 18 months into my study I began to look at my options for higher education. I soon realised that HE was not the path that I wanted to take. A career seemed more appropriate than continuing in education so, after achieving my A-Levels, I began volunteering as a coaching team leader at a local fishery that catered for underprivileged and disabled children in order to gain work experience before beginning an apprenticeship.

I researched apprenticeships that would allow me to earn whilst learning and get my foot in the door within the education sector. I applied and interviewed for a position as a Quality Administration Apprentice at Stoke on Trent College and was successful in gaining employment. I had realised that I needed to develop team working, people and communication skills, which led me to choose Business Admin.

Following my sign up, Smart Assessor account creation and familiarising myself with the system, I was tasked with maintaining the teaching, learning and assessment database, developed in Microsoft Access by the previous Head of Quality. This responsibility helped me to develop technical knowledge of databases as well as wider interpersonal skills based on the variety of people and teams I was required to work alongside for this project. The apprenticeship taught me essential administration skills and the workplace aspect enabled me to develop further skills and knowledge that opened doors for my future progression.

Approaching the end of my Level 2 apprenticeship, I spoke to my assessor and looked at courses available and we decided that my skills better suited a level 3 IT apprenticeship moving forward. Following the completion of the Level 2, I enrolled on a level 3 IT User apprenticeship and continued to work at the College.

By this point, as a team, we had outgrown the original Access database so I was given the responsibility of creating a new, improved database that would reduce admin needs and staff time. Initially, I built a sleeker database using Access which worked effectively and enabled me to write detailed reports using the inbuilt query editor and MS SQL. This database worked but it became clear that in the year, the technological landscape was changing and we saw the implementation of Office 365 applications.

I up-skilled, attended off the job training where possible and rigorously tested the capabilities of Office 365. We began to implement an electronic evidence gathering system to record outcomes of teaching, learning and assessment and produce reports at a management level. Through this, I began to specialise my skillset into the use of Microsoft technology to improve processes, increase efficiency and reduce staff time.

Through the development of this automated system, the College was able to move away from paper-based observations and cut observer write up time down by over 60%, enabling more time to focus on high-quality training and coaching.

The clear success of the first stage of electronic evidence gathering meant that I was given additional responsibility within my apprenticeship role and was given the task of building an all-round system that would collect a variety of evidence towards quality improvement; aiming towards a similar system to that of Ofsted’s EEG system. The system was needed to pull together an overall staff scorecard for teachers and assessors so I needed to work with teams to link Smart Assessor data and Pro Solution data to create an overall picture of individuals and areas.

I am less than one month from the end of my Level 3 IT user, during which I have developed a bank of skills that I can continue to work with and improve upon within the FE sector as well as skills that can be transferred into the wider industry. Across two apprenticeships, I have been able to develop communication and personal skills, monitor and track my progress towards my aims through Smart Assessor and build strong working relationships with Colleagues across College. Upon completion, I am enrolling on a Level 5 CMI apprenticeship and continuing to have a focus around the management and use of data to inform quality decisions across College. Without my first role as a Quality Administration Apprentice, I would not have found a career in the FE sector that I plan to pursue in the long run around quality and data management.

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