FDS Quality Assurance
All member schools run several courses, and these vary in terms of the courses offer in terms of a training and learning experience – and also the kinds of institutions that they are.
All partner schools offer registered qualifications, which allows them to be considered for funding of various kinds. Some partner schools also offer internal courses which do not receive direct funding eg foundation and short courses, and do not lead to a registered qualification. The registered qualification is just one factor in the assessment of the quality of the course, but typically registered qualifications and those institutions who provide them are reviewed by external bodies.
In order to make sure that the training provided is of the highest quality, all member schools are reviewed by EXTERNAL bodies regularly, and these bodies are nationally approved to have scrutiny and oversight. Most member schools are reviewed by more than one external agency, (some will have up to 5 separate external review processes ), as well as meeting the FDS hallmarks and criteria (link to page).
External review bodies include:
QAA (Quality Assurance Agency)
This is the body that oversees all higher education provision in the UK, ensuring that the quality of teaching and learning, standards of achievement and information provided about these are fit for purpose, and that each provider has good internal processes for identifying and developing high quality programmes . They also make sure that the registered qualifications meet the UK standards of achievement and content (eg what indicates a BA degree rather than an MA). Some member schools are reviewed individually by this body (alternative providers), others are part of a larger university operation and are reviewed as part of that. Each member schools’ website will indicate IF/ how they work with this organisation.
OfSTED oversees further education courses, and those member schools which offer TCL DIPLOMA courses are likely to be reviewed by this body to ensure the quality of teaching, learning and standards of the training.
The Office for Students is a relatively new agency that over sees all higher education provision in the UK, and they ensure that institutions are viable, sustainable and accessible; and also look at information such as teaching, student satisfaction and graduate destinations (through the TEF (Teaching excellence framework)) Again, member schools will vary between those who have a direct relationship with this body, and those which are part of a larger institution, but individual schools websites will indicate how they work with OfS, and where reviews can be found.
University Validation/ Approval
A majority of the member schools also go through review processes with a higher education institution- whether being validated by a University, or being part of one. University validation and review processes review the content, delivery and coherence of a programme to ensure that it meets UK standards, is fit for purpose in respect of what it says it does and has appropriate resources and capacity to deliver these. University validations have to make use of external advisers who are subject specialists/professionals within these processes, and also will appoint external examiners to make sure the standards and content of the courses are relevant and appropriate every year, outside of just one institution.
CDMT (Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre)
Some member schools are also reviewed by this body, which provides another external review process to ensure the quality and standards of the training by accrediting the programmes and the institutions which provide this. This body has a specific engagement with the vocational and professional hallmarks which define performance training, and works most directly with those member schools who offer the TCL Diploma courses in Musical Theatre. Their oversight of Acting courses is a relatively recent development, so not all member schools are reviewed by them, but this is not an indication of lower standards in those who are not.
TCL (Trinity College London)
For those schools which offer the TCL Diplomas, Trinity also maintain oversight of the content and delivery of these qualifications, to make sure courses are meeting their standards and criteria. This might be viewed as the equivalent of a validation for a BA degree programme. It is important to note that the TCL programmes are specific and recognised qualifications, some institutions may have unregistered programmes which are also called diplomas etc. This does not mean the quality is poor, but it may mean there are no external review processes and no access to funding.
Graduate eligibility for Professional Organisations
There are certain Industry membership organisations which are regarded as indications of professional status- these being Spotlight UK and Equity for performers, BECTU for technicians, ALS, SMA, ABTT. Graduates from partner schools, subject to the eligibility of the programme they have studied on, are considered immediately for membership as the training is considered to be of a professional calibre.