Preparing for audit – Part One of Two
Advice Column: September 2012
The audit process can often feel quite overwhelming for RTOs, and if it’s your first time, you may not know where to start. In this article, Shashi Hodge, Director of RTO Advice Services, explains the audit process and discusses documentation requirements.
RTO: I have just received notice of my audit date. What are the first steps I should take to begin preparing for the audit?
Ideally, you should have been preparing for your audit for some time. Generally, a good place to start is to conduct an internal audit against the standards you are being audited on (if you haven’t already done so) to make sure that you have the evidence required, available for the audit.
The scope of the audit (the standards on which you will be audited) depends on the type of audit you are having.
If it is an initial registration audit (to become an RTO) then you should expect to be audited on all the standards and to have to demonstrate your ability to comply with the VET Quality Framework (SNRs) or the Australian Quality Training Framework (whichever is applicable). In Victoria and if you are registering with the VRQA, then you will also need to demonstrate compliance with the VRQA Guidelines for VET Providers.
If you having a re-registration audit, usually you will be audited on most standards but it depends on the level of risk assigned to your RTO by the registering body. Some of the standards may not be audited in a re-registration audit, but prepare as if you were being audited on everything.
If you are having an audit for extension to scope, the audit scope will usually be much smaller. An extension to scope audit usually focuses on the details surrounding the course you are wishing to add to scope. That means that you should have everything ready particular to the course you are adding such as the training and assessment strategies and materials, staff, pre-enrolment information, and industry consultation records. Sometimes you may also be audited against some areas of operation that are not purely about course delivery such as continuous improvement, national recognition, marketing, client services or transition of training packages and accredited courses.
RTO: What should I check for when I do an internal audit?
The purpose of this process is to help you think about how you comply with each standard (or guideline) and to gather the evidence that you have to demonstrate compliance. This means you should go through each of the standards (from the SNRs, AQTF and/or VRQA Guidelines) and make a list of the evidence that shows how you meet the standard. You may also like to write down a summary of how you comply so you have it ready for the auditor. Sometimes, it can be useful to print (or organise electronically) folders for each standard so that it is easily accessible during the audit. Remember when you go through this process to take a critical eye. Read the standard again, make sure you understand what it is requiring and consider the evidence you have. Does the evidence you have clearly demonstrate compliance with the standard?
RTO: What sort of documents should I have available?
You need to have all the documents and records available at audit that demonstrate how your organisation complies with the standards. For initial or re-registration audits, a sampling approach is usually taken to the qualifications, course and units of competency you have on scope. However, usually you do not know prior to the audit day, which qualifications or courses will be focused on so you need to make sure you have everything ready for all your programs.
For each program you should have:
- A Training and Assessment Strategy
- Industry Consultation records
- Trainer/Assessor files with signed resumes, certified qualifications and skills matrices. Your skills matrices should demonstrate vocational competency against each unit, going to at least element level.
- Pre-enrolment information which may include a student handbook plus detailed information about the course to allow a person to make an informed decision about enrolment into the program
- A validation and moderation schedule that clearly shows when each unit will be moderated and validated and by who
- Training and assessment materials including relevant session plans, learner guides, assessment tasks, recording tools, benchmarking guides and mapping.
- An approach to identifying and supporting language, literacy and numeracy requirements of students.
You should also have:
- Detailed RTO Policies and procedures that comply with the standards along with relevant forms and systems in place. If you are an existing RTO, the auditor will want to see that your records demonstrate that you operate in accordance with your own policies and procedures.
- An AVETMISS-compliant student management system. If you are an existing RTO, you will need to demonstrate that students are entered correctly onto the database.
- Compliant qualifications, statements of attainment and records of results. Make sure these follow the guidelines provided by the AQF released in 2011.
- Record management systems which may include clear guidelines that are followed on maintaining physical student and staff files, an approach to electronic file and record management that is followed, version control etc.
- An approach to identifying the needs of your learners.
- Evidence of collecting and reporting quality indicator data.
Remember (!) the above list is not exhaustive and you should go back to the standards to check that you have everything to demonstrate compliance. The article above gives you a guide to work from.