SDConsultancy is an approved SQA training provider, specialising in delivery of programmes in Hospitality, Customer Service, Management, Business and Administration, and Sports and Leisure. Managing Director, Sarah Dalrymple, is also an External Quality Assurer (EQA), living and breathing the process of training and assessment. SDConsultancy became a customer of Skills Forward as they were looking for an effective e-portfolio system.
Sarah said: “As an EQA, I see and interact with a lot of e-portfolios, so I know what makes a good system for teaching and learning. When it came to finding a suitable solution for SDConsultancy, I initially explored creating my own bespoke system in-house but found the security issues surrounding data protection prohibitive, which is when I turned to Skills Forward.
“I wanted to implement an efficient e-portfolio platform which had the ability to engage learners outside of the classroom and offered a usable and easy to navigate interface. Of all the systems I tried, I found Skills Portfolio to be the easiest, most effective solution, which offered multiple benefits for both learner use and external verification visits.
“In order to meet our sustainability requirements, we needed to be entirely paper free. The ability to cross-reference evidence in-platform reduces our paper-trail and our admin time, which means we can spend more time supporting learners. Skills Portfolio simply ticks all the boxes.”
Why Skills Portfolio?
Skills Portfolio is a secure, cloud-based e-portfolio suitable for apprenticeships, vocational qualifications, or for anyone who is delivering or undertaking training. There are a huge number of qualifications and Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) pre-loaded onto the e-portfolio. However, on the occasion that a preferred qualification or apprenticeship framework isn’t included, the Skills Forward team can tailor the system to ensure that it fully supports the individual learning journey.
Designed to be flexible to customer needs and capable of integrating with any existing MIS/CRM systems, Skills Portfolio guides learners through their qualification framework and allows them to upload a range of supporting evidence including photos and videos. The system also features a 20% ‘off the job’ training calculator and activity log, as well as built-in compatibility with Recite Me, an accessibility software programme to support learners who have learning disabilities, are neurodiverse, visually impaired or speak English as a second language.
As well as supporting learners to succeed, Skills Portfolio supports providers to monitor and verify progress remotely, give feedback, create reports, download evidence for inspections and support teachers/tutors to continuously assess end-point assessment gateway readiness.
Design, demand, delivery: supporting learners in lockdown
For many learning providers, lockdown brought with it an operational shift that they have decided to implement as business as usual. Like SDConsultancy, many providers are enjoying the benefits that remote delivery and assessment has to offer.
Sarah commented: “Being able to work remotely has always been important, but the necessity of having the systems in place to support long-term remote teaching and learning has been greatly exacerbated by lockdown.
“When Covid-19 first hit, we had a conversation with Skills Forward about the compatibility of the qualifications that we offer with Skills Portfolio to enable us to expand our use of the app and support more of our learners to continue their studies from home.
“We now have 80 learners registered to use Skills Portfolio who do so religiously, which is having an additional benefit of helping learners to develop their digital skills as prior to lockdown, we would upload evidence to the platform for them. We feel incredibly fortunate that, thanks to Skills Portfolio, we were able to carry on working where other centres across Scotland had to close.”
As well as working alongside post-16 and adult learners, SDConsultancy also supports school-age apprentices. School pupils from Dumfries and Galloway who were working towards qualifications in creative and digital subjects had seen their work grind to a halt in light of the Covid-19 lockdown as they had no means of documenting their work experience. Working together with the local council, SDConsultancy helped the learners to gather evidence remotely from their workplaces and supported them to complete their qualifications, with four learners achieving 100% after starting at just 33%.
Digital skills development and more time for pastoral support
The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures has had an unprecedented effect on further education, with tens of thousands of people across the UK choosing to engage with digital learning as a means of filling in their time, but also improving their employability prospects, by upskilling or re-skilling to help them find work in a depressed labour market.
Sarah added “More than ever, learners are embracing digital learning and through the successful implementation of the Skills Portfolio system, are becoming adept at managing their own workloads with little intervention from their tutors. We now only have weekly check-ins which provides us (teachers) with more time for pastoral support. So far, we’ve had no negative responses to using the platform. It’s been a very easy transition to a fully digitised operation and the learners seem satisfied.
“They have all developed their digital skills as well as transferable skills in areas like communication, self-direction and time management which will stand them in good stead for entering the competitive job market.
“On a personal level, prior to lockdown I spent a long time travelling very extensively to complete learner assessments and observations but thanks to the new system flexibilities, I will now be able to reduce this in the future. I can’t see us ever going back to a part-manual system as using Skills Portfolio reduces the risk of files going missing through the post, as well as reducing postage and courier costs. It also enables us to better support those freelance assessors working remotely full-time as we can now share information securely at the touch of a button.”
You can book a free one to one demonstration of Skills Portfolio or contact the team by email for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.