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Written Answers - Departmental Agencies

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 151.  Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if the following reports relating to issues in FÁS north east have been published in full (details supplied); the cost of each report; the actions of each report; the actions taken arising from each report; if all matters being investigated have now been resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6695/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciaran Cannon Zoom on Ciaran Cannon FÁS staff members in the North East region identified issues in respect of the operation and administration of FÁS assessment procedures, the resultant certificates to be awarded and several of the underlying processes. While these issues were initially identified in the North East Region, it became apparent that there were systemic problems in this regard within the organisation.

FÁS undertook a wide ranging examination of the underlying issues and a series of reports were produced, either internally by FÁS or by or with the assistance of external consultants or bodies. Some relate solely to the North East region and others to FÁS as a whole. The details requested are set as follows:

WRC Report: This report details a review of all FÁS regional centres in respect of Contractor Training. The report was part of a three phase review. Phase 1 and 2 were carried out by FÁS and involved monitoring over 300 courses and reviewing over 32,700 individual assessments in respect of 4,825 learners. Phase 3 was carried out by WRC Economic and Social Consultants to independently ratify that Phase 1 and 2 were conducted consistently and to a high standard in accordance with the agreed processes. Arising from the outcome of this report, FÁS implemented a number of new systems and procedures, including:

—The introduction and implementation of a new Training Standards System;

—A new and automated Contractor Training System (CTTL) with new procedures and safeguards;

—A dedicated unit for Curriculum and Assessments.

The report was published in October 2010 and is available on the FÁS website. The total cost of this report was €40,560, excluding VAT.

Boyle Report: In September 2010 an independent review was carried out at the request of the FÁS Assessment Standards Group, in relation to the process for handling thirteen non-conforming contracts in the North East Region. The review was undertaken by Dr Liam Boyle of the Limerick Institute of Technology. Arising from this review, the FÁS Assessment Standards Group approved certificate requests for eight courses, recommended that the marks for four courses be reviewed and that a re-sit was required for one course. In addition Dr Boyle made seven recommendations ranging from “Shared understanding of assessment requirements [388]across Training Standard Officers in all regions” to “The need for a feedback mechanism to gather information from second providers on assessments and assessment issues”. All recommendations have been addressed in full by FÁS. This is an internal report to FÁS and has not been published. The total cost of this report was €3,000, excluding VAT.

Investigations Report 2010: “An investigation surrounding the inputting of information in respect of applications for FETAC Certification in FÁS North East” was an independent report prepared by Michael Tyrell (former Managing Partner, Matheson Ormbsy Prentice Solicitors). Its purpose was to establish the facts behind the inaccurate inputting of results which could have resulted in the issue of incorrect certificates to certain learners. In establishing these facts Mr Tyrell was asked to assess whether this occurred deliberately. The main finding of this report was “that there is no evidence of a deliberate intention on the part of any person to incorrectly seek certification for a person not so entitled”. It also reported on the sequence of events leading to this inaccurate inputting of certain results. This was an internal report for FÁS and has not been published. As it was an investigative report, there were no recommendations. The total cost of this report was €9,350, excluding VAT.

North East Review 2011: The North East Project Report (North East Review) was a follow on from an in-depth review of issues relating to assessment results which arose in FÁS North- East. This major review was carried out by FÁS, involving External Examiners to review and mark Summary Assessment Forms. An Independent Chair was appointed to oversee the Results Approval Group. Of the 103 courses reviewed by the External Examiners, a total of 92 courses involving 1,884 learners were recommended for certification. An extensive exercise was completed on the remaining 11 training programmes and issues were resolved. Arising from the feedback from the External Examiners, FÁS has addressed issues of concern by means of the Training Standards System, its new contracted training procedures and revised contracts. This process also involved the introduction of External Authentication prior to requesting certificates and the rollout of the RCCRS (Results Capture Certification Request System). This report was an internal report prepared by FÁS to summarise the outputs of the exercise and it has not been published. No additional costs arose. For the sake of completeness, the cost of the services of the External Examiners who undertook the primary exercise was €61,169. This includes costs in respect of the Independent Chair of the Results Approval Group.

FETAC Report 2010: An examination of FÁS procedures regarding requesting certificates was published in full by FETAC in February 2011. FETAC conducted the examination and produced the report from within their monitoring resources and no additional costs were incurred. There was no cost to FÁS in relation to this report. A follow-up report on implementation of the examination’s actions, which outlines the corrective actions taken by FÁS, was published by FETAC in November 2011. The follow-up report states that FETAC is satisfied that FÁS is implementing the corrective actions identified and enhancing their quality systems as outlined in the February report. Both reports are available on the FETAC website.

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