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Developing an evidence base for effective quality assurance of education and training


The GMC commissioned this research to review how the provision of education is quality assured by other regulatory bodies in order to identify good practice. The findings will be used to inform the GMC’s comprehensive review of the QA of medical education that will take place in 2012.

The study adopted a mixed methods approach comprising literature review, questionnaire and depth interviews with comparable UK and international regulatory bodies. Views and opinions were additionally sought from Medical Schools and Deaneries.

The final report considers existing international guidelines and standards for QA and examines, in detail, how organisations plan, target and carry out QA. The report also focuses on the type of evidence used to support QA activities and the manner in which this is assessed and reported on. It includes 12 detailed case studies of approaches adopted by specific regulators to illustrate good practice examples.

Key findings from the research:

  • Though application varies, there is an almost universal framework for the QA process which involves:
    • setting standards / criteria
    • self-assessment
    • external assessment/validation
    • public reporting of outcome.
  • The emphasis of QA is starting to shift to give greater priority to quality enhancement over accountability; proportionate risk based targeting over cyclical models and standard setting which focuses more on outcome than process.
  • These shifts align current practice across the wider QA environment more closely with the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care's principles of ‘Right Touch Regulation’.
  • Transparency throughout the process and clarity in reporting results promote effective QA.

The researchers provide ten QA good practice suggestions for all health based regulators of education and training. They relate to the use of thematic QA to recognise and share good practice among providers, the composition and training of QA visit teams, methods to validate data, tailoring reports for intended audiences and the promotion of good practice among regulators.

Full Report

Developing an evidence base for effective quality assurance of education and training (pdf)

Published 8 May 2012.