The voice of specialist further education

Understanding the Natspec quality assurance review

The Natspec quality assurance review supports established Natspec member colleges to improve the quality of one specific aspect of their provision (or possibly two linked aspects) which they have identified, through self-assessment, as in need of improvement.

What can I expect from a quality assurance review?

The quality assurance review is intended as a developmental and supportive process through which you gain an external perspective from an experienced practitioner. At the same time, it should help you further develop your own capacity to self-assess and quality assure your provision.

The output is a report written by the associate and quality assured by Natspec. The report will include a short statement about the focus of the review and the methodology used, a summary of what is working well, where improvements are needed in relation to the aspect(s) of provision reviewed and some suggested improvement actions.

What is the scope of the quality assurance review?

The review is a comprehensive assessment of one (or possibly two linked) specific areas of your provision which you have already identified as in need of improvement. It is not designed to cover the whole of your provision in the way that an inspection does. You might focus on, for example, a specific pathway; an aspect of your curriculum such as sex and relationships education or CEIAG; or a particular approach, for example, to progress monitoring, behaviour support, or safeguarding.

Who are the reviewers?

Quality assurance reviews are undertaken by a small team of Natspec associates with extensive knowledge of specialist FE provision. All have experience of self, peer, and external review of FE provision for learners with SEND.

How does the quality assurance review work in practice?

Natspec assigns an associate from its quality assurance review team to conduct your review, based on the aspect of provision you want to review, your location and associate availability. The associate contacts you to set up an initial conversation with the college principal and named lead for the review. This allows:

  • you to explain in more detail what aspect of provision you want reviewed
  • the associate to explain the review process
  • both parties to agree dates for the visit and material to be sent to the associate to review in advance.

Once the associate has reviewed the material, they get in touch with a proposed set of onsite review activities from which you create a schedule for the two-day visit. Most review activities are carried out jointly with the college lead, so you should make sure they are free to participate in these during the visit.

The two-day visit

The visit usually begins with a discussion involving the college lead for the review, the principal, and other senior leaders as relevant. The college lead and associate then carry out the agreed review activities, mostly working together. Depending on the area of focus, review activities might include but are not limited to:

  • discussions with senior leaders
  • conversations with staff in different roles, governors, learners, employers, family members or other key people, as appropriate
  • observation of sessions or activities, including work placement
  • site tour
  • work scrutiny/review of learners’ folders
  • review of learner progress, attendance or safeguarding records
  • review of achievement or destination data
  • sharing reflections at the end of the visit or at the end of each day.

After the visit

You receive a comprehensive report detailing what is working well and what needs to improve along with suggested improvement actions. If you want further support to undertake any improvement actions, you should contact to discuss your needs.

You can also expect a follow-up call from Natspec three to six months after the review in which we will ask you what impact the review has had. This helps us to assess the effectiveness of the service and identify and implement improvements to it.

Request a quality assurance review

To request a quality assurance review, please complete the form below. If you have any other queries, please email

We aim to respond to your request within five working days. Please note that to ensure quality of service, we require sufficient time between confirming details of your requirements and delivery of the training / consultancy support. We therefore request that form submissions are done at least 1 month advance of desired date of delivery.

    Organisation details

    Quality assurance review details

    Finance Details

    You will not be invoiced until it has been confirmed that you are proceeding with the service but you must have the authorisation to continue with this request.

    Once submitted below, a member of our team will be in touch shortly. Thank you.

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