I’ve worked for the fire and rescue service for 18 years now, and over the last 9 years I’ve been involved in the training and assessment of new firefighters and incident commanders. When I did my NVQ all those years ago, I remember collecting evidence and printing it out – I wasn’t sure how relevant the evidence would be, as it was always tough to identify the outcomes as they were never to hand. I kept all my evidence in two lever arch files, which became so full that I eventually had to put a belt around it to keep it all together.
In 2013, we started using OneFile – and it’s completely revolutionised how we deliver training across 29 fire stations in Nottinghamshire.
Assessors used to have to traipse from station to station to collect evidence, but OneFile has completely changed this. Now, they can collect all their evidence remotely, as the firefighters and crew managers can upload their evidence straight into OneFile, and the assessors are notified when their work has been submitted. Of course, assessors still visit for observations, but their time with learners is now spent much more productively.
When our processes were paper-based, the files used to be left at the station, so they could only complete work there as it was a pain to take home and remember to bring it back. Now, our trainees are so engaged – and their eportfolios are so easily accessible – they continue to work on their assessments at home. This would never have happened before! They’re really motivated by seeing their progress increase in OneFile when they complete their work.
OneFile enables us to be much more efficient. On paper, the write-up and cross-referencing of an observation of a crew manager debrief would have taken well over an hour. Now, with OneFile, it can take as little as 15 minutes – saving 75% of the time! It’s so convenient, and all the criteria are available to us within a couple of clicks, so we can clearly see other areas that may have been covered, too. After the assessment, the IQA can give feedback, which is invaluable, especially for trainee assessors. This makes the quality of assessments so much better.
Some of the older crew managers or firefighters can be a little reluctant to use technology, but once I explain how it used to be on paper, they all give OneFile a go. It’s so straightforward that they don’t take long to get to grips with it, and the younger ones absolutely love it straight away.
On paper, it could take 18 months for someone to complete their Watch Manager NVQ – on OneFile, it takes between 9 and 12 months, so our firefighters and managers are being trained up to 50% more quickly.
Everyone at OneFile should be very proud of their software, as it’s been a game changer for us. I would definitely recommend OneFile!