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Sample LIS publications
LIS guidance note on self assessment
LIS exemplar position statement on equality and diversity
Inter-relationship between QI and SAR cycles
LIS guidance note on SSAs at tier 1 and 2
LIS Apprenticeship Progress Review Diamond
These are PDF files - you will need a PDF reader


Welcome to LIS online...




Who and what is the Learning Improvement Service? The Learning Improvement Service was set up by Phil Hatton (read about Phil here), an ex-Ofsted HMI and National Adviser. Through his extensive experience in leading inspections, surveys, good practice, advisory work and improvement consultancy, Phil has a unique and wide understanding of best practice in the Further Education sector, particularly in colleges and in work-based learning. He is utilising his knowledge to help colleges and other providers of training improve the learning experience they give to their learners. The LIS only wants to work with those who have a real will to improve their provision, by establishing where you are now and where you would like to be in the future. We do not intend to just help to ‘patch you up’ to get you through an inspection, but to help you make sustainable improvements. We use only the best people, who know what they are doing, because they have done it themselves. Below is a brief summary of the main ways that we can support you (however, please contact us if you require something else not listed below):

 Consultancy support to improve key aspects of your provision - consultancy support to cover key aspects of quality improvement systems such as self-assessment reporting, position statements, improvement planning, observation of teaching, learning and assessment, sharing of good practice, course reviews and evaluation, the user voice and being prepared for short or full Ofsted Inspections. Phil can also help you to improve English and maths and ensure that your safeguarding is exemplary.

 Providing a ‘critical friend’ service to check and validate self-assessment, observations of teaching and other key quality processes such as course reviews – confirmation that you are moving in the right direction – we’ll work with you to confirm you are doing the right things in the right way, responding specifically to your needs, keeping you on target to improve your provision. This is one of the key areas of our work particularly from September through to February. Phil will also provide you with support by email or phone if needed prior to and during inspections.

 Safeguarding, Prevent and British Values Reviews – Phil has developed real expertise in what the best practice of the sector is and can work with you over two days to check out every aspect and leave you with a position statement of where you are and what you can do to be outstanding. Phil can also provide bespoke training and materials to raise awareness of staff, governors and learners

 Apprenticeships and subcontracting – Phil knows all there is to know about these two areas and has helped transform some of the biggest college and worst performing providers in terms of their success rates. The ideal scenario is a five day visit to check and sample how you do things, suggest improvements and provide you with the resources needed, finishing with a half-day staff development that is bespoke to your improvement needs. Please contact Phil as long in advance as possible to get time allocated for this

 Internal inspection or review of areas requiring improvement - a tried and tested way to improve an area is to first gain an informed view of exactly where that area is in terms of strengths and weaknesses, using an expert with extensive inspection experience. Unlike an Ofsted inspection, all feedback to staff and managers observed in an area is given constructively to help improve practice for the benefit of learners (while also giving you robust evidence for your OTLA system, SAR and QIP). An internal review could be for an area of learning or for a cross-college aspect such as safeguarding, equality and diversity, or course reviews. All consultants undertaking this work are personally known to Phil Hatton as to their ability to do so. The LIS will only conduct such work when they have the right person to do it (often Phil himself). You will receive a report that focusses on ways of improving the area reviewed, based on the best practice of the sector that is proven to work (not just telling you what has been seen, which is the usual practice of most consultancy companies).

 Helping individual institutions in the sector achieve good or outstanding teaching, learning and assessment through establishing robust observation of teaching, learning and assessment (OTLA) systems – depending on where your system is we can its validate current robustness by conducting observations (joint ones are best value as they train your staff) and scrutinising the gradings and paperwork historically awarded. If more work is required, we’ll equip you with the tools (training, paperwork and systems) to establish an OTLA system that delivers accurate and well recorded findings by your observers. Your observation system will help keep a focus on promoting improvement, identifying and promoting the sharing and adaptation of good practice by teachers (a reoccurring weakness in Ofsted inspections in the past year). We will provide you with the training, paperwork and systems to move your staff forward, encouraging their collaboration in the development and sharing of resources, so your staff will deliver learning in true teams. We will support you with either graded or ungraded systems. An approach of conducting joint ‘learning walkthroughs’ of 20 to 25 minutes duration is providing many institutions with an overview of their provision and enables the judgements of college observers to be tested out for their accuracy and breadth.

 Sharing exemplary practice and systems in self-assessment with you, leading to quality improvement planning that moves you forward – we’ll support you in developing your capacity to self-assess all of your work honestly and robustly so that your staff ‘own’ the resultant self-assessment reports and improvement plans, understanding their part in moving you forward.  Few are really good at self-assessment, we can make sure that you are and that self-assessment moves you forward. Several colleges and providers have received very positive feedback about their SARs in 2016 following support and the use of LIS templates, particularly the use of a two page Executive Summary SAR that helps focus improvement actions. If you have a 50 page SAR it will not be an effective improvement tool.

 Helping you to produce position statements – if you think you are likely to be inspected it is important to be able to say where you are ‘now’ as self-assessment looks back on the past year - we’ll support you in writing effective position statements for key areas that tell you and others exactly where you are for that area. They are a great way to demonstrate to inspectors that you know your provision and have helped a number of LIS clients move from a grade 4 inadequate to a grade 2 good. Phil has also helped a number of colleges achieve grade 1s for their leadership and management. An exemplar position statement can be seen here but is not as good as what you will finish up with (samples can be shared)!!

 Conducting a confidential ‘health check’ of your organisation by one or more of the top and most experienced recent HMIs (and previously lead inspectors with the FEFC, TSC and ALI) – if it is sometime since your last inspection or there have been significant changes in management or what you offer, a ‘health check’ could be invaluable. We’ll examine your leadership, management, performance and quality improvement against and beyond the requirements of the September 2015 Common Inspection Framework in a way that can only be achieved by being carried out by the right people. Depending on institutional size and complexity, this totally confidential and focused ‘health check’ will ensure you know your provision inside out and have no surprises should you be inspected. It will help you to decide and prioritise how to move your provision on.  


Being prepared for inspection with two days notice – we’ll support you in developing your capacity to be ready at short notice to show your institution in the best light, honestly but robustly, as it should be. With just two days notice to prepare it is worth investing in being ‘institutionally ready’. Phil has been in colleges when the call came and those prepared well respond calmly and effortlessly. We can tell you what to expect and what to have ready, dispelling the myths and taking the ‘fear’ out of inspection by having leads for the key areas that inspectors will focus on.  Some colleges have benefitted from bespoke training for individual key staff including their governors.


Providing resources that really impact to help you improve particular areas of your work – for example, materials to train governors, staff and learners in areas such as safeguarding, Prevent, British Values, equality and diversity, attendance, course reviews, self-assessment reporting, general quality improvement and the improvement of teaching, learning and assessment through observation and improvement planning. For example, Phil has designed poster campaigns to improve attendance and raise awareness of safeguarding and radicalisation, as well as with English and maths


Supporting leaders, managers and governors to understand their role and part in monitoring performance and promoting improvement – we’ll work with you to understand exactly where you are now and provide tailor made support that responds specifically to your needs, whether it be individual one-to-one support or workshops for groups of people.


Providing ‘Masterclasses’ in key areas that are often cited as areas for improvement in inspection, providing resources that can be adapted for use in the institutions that attend or commission for internal delivery - these will be a full or half day of hard, but rewarding work. They should only be attended by staff who have the ability and authority to introduce the ways of working that are covered. Attendance at a masterclass gives your institution a licence to adapt the materials shared with you. Our Masterclasses are completely different from anything that has been offered previously by others, and in terms of possible improvement impact, will be the best money your institution has ever invested. They can be offered on site for key managers in a college. They will include customisable resources such as posters to encourage attendance for the Improving Attendance and Punctuality Masterclass.