Amira's Quality Systems : Overview
A quality system has to verify inputs and outputs and review progress and exceptions from beginning to end. In a language school, the elements of the learning process are (see text below on this page):
The school keeps certain information about the student so that he/she can be contacted, so that previous study of the language and availability can be taken into account when counselling a course and to record on-going attainment in Amira's courses.
b) Course Objectives
These may be:
i) standard, for example, the "Step by Step" progress of language levels;
ii) adapted, for example, a standard programme using texts and material from a student's organisation;
iii) tailored, for example, a non-standard programme focusing on one particular linguistic skill;
iv) specialised, for example, a course focusing entirely on legal or insurance terminology.
v) cultural, for example, a course focusing on a particular form, theatre, poetry, songs, a certain author, art history…
Collectively, options ii, iii, iv and v are called customised courses. Progress towards objectives is monitored at different points in the course.
c) Corporate Clients
Counsellors work with the students and corporate clients to pre-define their objectives. Clients are invited to sign agreement to written objectives, which are used to brief teachers. This is particularly important with customised courses.
A good teacher is a fundamental element in the success of a language course. Verification of teachers means examining qualifications, experience, language test scores, interview screening, insertion into the school and on-going monitoring of performance. Amira takes great care to ensure the professionalism and competence of its teachers.
e) Instructions to Teachers
Basic to its success is that when Amira gives courses to teachers it does so with a defined set of course objectives, the number of hours in which to achieve them and with a series of monitoring steps pre-defined.
f) Course Material
This is either standard or customised following the course objectives. Selection of non-standard course material is made by the responsible counsellor in consultation with the teacher(s) and director of teaching who gives agreement as to budget and appropriateness for the objectives.
The directors' quality management role is to review the exceptions and other outputs from the quality system as well as the training needs of those who maintain the structure. Particularly, directors are responsible for the recruitment of teachers.
Counsellors' day to day role is to maintain the pedagogical operation of the school. Counsellors are all qualified and experienced teachers, who are also trained in pedagogical counselling. So your first contact at Amira is with an educational expert who can help you decide your needs.
i) Counsellors' advice to students and teachers
Counsellors advise clients, students and teachers as to the best choice of programme.
j) Placement tests and student placement
Basic to a correct placement and / or setting of objectives is a good test of current language ability. The school gives written and oral tests. They are verified by the continuous feedback from students joining courses. Exceptions are logged.
k) End of course tests and teachers' assessments of students
These form the basis for continuation with the next level. The school keeps records of students' success in its courses.
l) Objectives monitoring system
The school maintains a structure of regular feedback from teachers concerning the progress made by each student. The completeness of feedback reports is monitored regularly and the results held at the school.
m) Students' TQM evaluations
Students' TQM evaluations are recorded and analysed using a computer system. Evaluations are reviewed at the regular quality management meetings.
n) Course timetable and location
The timetable - and location of a course on "deplacement" - are pre-agreed with the client. On a flexible private lessons course where the student can cancel a session one day before, the precise timetable is fixed with the teacher. The number of hours taught by a teacher are reported periodically to the school and verified for accuracy against the authorised hours for the course.
o) Document control
The school maintains a series of systems to ensure that documents specifying course objectives are dealt with logically. For example, all the educational management documents relating to a company where there are several group courses are filed together for easy reference.
p) Monitoring of skills
The school maintains a database of the professional skills available to it for several purposes:
(i) so that the best teacher may be selected for a particular course;
(ii) to help define recruitment and / or training strategies;
(iii) to help decide what projects should be undertaken to develop long-term skills within the school;
(iv) to assist career planning.
The Director of Teaching as well as the Counsellors maintain a close personal awareness of the needs and abilities of each teacher.