Awards 2019

What are these awards about?

Through our work in assessing organisations against a variety of quality standards, we recognise the impact that using different frameworks can have on performance and customer experience. The Assessment Services Ltd Annual Awards seek to recognise those organisations who have gained demonstrable benefits from using one or more of our quality standards.

How to enter

There is no limit to the number of categories that can be entered, although only one entry per category will be accepted. There is no set format for entries, however each entry must not exceed 1,000 words. When considering an entry please ensure your organisation is accredited/certificated to the Standard Award within the categories.





Using Standard to

Improve Performance

Recognising an organisation that has embraced a Standard as a framework to help them manage their journey of continuous improvement. 
An organisation can choose any one or more of the quality standards: Merlin, the matrix Standard, Customer Service Excellence or Leadership and Management. 

Applications are likely to: 

  • Demonstrate measurable increased performance through application/implementation of one or more quality standard/s 
  • Demonstrate the impact upon their client group/s 
  • Demonstrate sustained improved performance over a period of time 
  • Demonstrate continued commitment to use of quality standard/s as a benchmark 

Using Standards to

Support Change

Recognising an organisation that has used one or more Standard/s (Merlin, the matrix Standard, Customer Service Excellence or Leadership and Management) to help manage a change process in an effective way. 

Applications are likely to: 

  • Demonstrate a change journey using quality standard/s framework/s 
  • Demonstrate the barriers overcome to enable change 
  • Demonstrate the intended and unintended benefits of the change journey 
  • Demonstrate change that might not otherwise have been considered without the use of the quality standard/s 

Effectively working with


To Improve Performance

In recognition of organisations that work with a community or create partnerships that are mutually beneficial to all parties. 

Applications are likely to: 

  • Demonstrate the impact of working with a community or partnership 
  • Demonstrate that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” 
  • Describe how the effectiveness of working with the community or partnership is evaluated 
  • Describe the benefits to themselves, partners/community and client group/s 

Customer Service Excellence Award

Building a Customer Focused Organisation

Recognising an organisation that is driven from the top to be Customer Focussed and capable of sustaining. 

Applications are likely to: 

  • Demonstrate the approach taken to build a customer-focussed organisation 
  • Demonstrate how customer insight shaped changed 
  • Demonstrate the impact of customer-focussed strategy both internally and externally 
  • Demonstrate how use of the Customer Service Excellence Standard delivered results/changes that may not otherwise have been realised 

Merlin Standard Award

Working with Effective Supply Chains

Recognised by their Supply Chain as an organisation that creates a win-win partnership with their supply chain to deliver excellent value to the customer. 

Applications are likely to: 

  • Demonstrate commitment to the development of Supply Chain Partners 
  • Demonstrate the benefits to themselves, Supply Chain Partners and their commissioning body 
  • Demonstrate the impact upon their client group/s through effective supply chain management 
  • Describe how the Merlin Standard has delivered results/changes that may not otherwise have been realised 
  • Be endorsed by one or more of their supply chain partners 

The matrix Standard Award for defining, delivering and improving the

Information, Advice and Guidance

to their customers

In recognition of an organisation committed to the delivery of highquality information, advice and guidance that makes a difference to the client group/s they work with. 

Applications are likely to: 

  • Describe the strategy of defining the IAG offer 
  • Demonstrate the planned and actual impact upon the client group/s 
  • Demonstrate how review and evaluation has shaped the IAG offer 
  • Describe how the matrix Standard has delivered results/changes that may not otherwise have been realised 

The Families First Quality Award for desfining, delivering, and improving the

Information for Families

In recognition of an organisation committed to the delivery of highquality information, advice and guidance that makes a difference to the client group/s they work with. 

Applications are likely to: 

  • Describe how they go beyond statutory requirements in the provision of information to families 
  • Demonstrate innovative ways of working 
  • Demonstrate the impact on families 
  • Describe how the Families First Quality Award has delivered results/changes that may not otherwise have been realised 

winners 2018


Using Standards to Improve Performance

This organisation uses the matrix Standard, and has realigned its Business Plan to the four elements of the Standard; Leadership and Management, Resources, Service Delivery and Continuous Quality improvement.  They report that through this realignment, particularly around those aspects of the Standard that relate to management of the service, the intended outcomes and linking to wider organisational goals, has not only maintained the quality service provided, but has also been the driving factor for continuous improvement. – with the recent matrix report stating ‘The business planning and management processes have been redefined to ensure that they are effective in communicating the overarching Council strategies, they clearly outline aims, objectives and outcomes and they provide a platform for robust evaluation of the service. The matrix Standard has driven this comprehensive process and it enjoys a greater clarity for managers and staff.’ 

The application described a range of developments; for example as a result of an area for development in their 2015 report, they have implemented further communication strategies including weekly bulletins, Impact Project updates, regular task and finish groups, team meetings and ongoing professional discussions. This has resulted in the 2018 report stating ‘Communication is highly effective from strategic to operational delivery. Staff are fully informed … and their views are listened’. 


The organisation also described  improved performance and impact of their work on the young people receiving their services, for example their September Guarantee figures are now in the top quartile nationally. 

Connexions Sandwell


Using Standards to Support Change

This entry described an organisation that faced a number of challenges: the merging of two organisations, where one had received poor inspection feedback, and a fragmented information, advice and guidance provision, with the assessor recommending a number of improvements.  A new vision IAG was rolled out to address the issues and to ensure that all students and apprentices received the best information, advice, guidance and support that would transform student success and life chances. As part of the strategy to drive change all IAG was benchmarked against the matrix Standard.  Furthermore. the College benchmarked its current level of performance with the Gatsby standards and created an action plan to close the gaps within one year.  

Since September 2017, the organisation implemented new initiatives to secure rapid improvements. This includes: Bringing together 30 colleagues from two sites and 15 departments under one umbrella of Student Support Services; Developing a clear set of values through consultation with student and staff groups;


The latest report states in June 2018 ‘it was evident that there had been extensive development of the information, advice and guidance (IAG) service following the appointment of staff in senior positions. Of each of the, “Areas for Development,” identified in 2017, clear evidence was provided to demonstrate the actions taken.’  


The organisation stated that the matrix Standard provided a clear framework to support change and a structure totally in line with the college strategy and that the support from their matrix assessor proved invaluable and provided a number of best practice examples to support the transformation of the IAG service. 

Cambridge Regional College


Effectively Working with Communities / Partnerships to Improve Performance

This organisation is a provider of mental health and wellbeing services who offers support for people with a wide range of mental health issues including anxiety and depression, psychosis, alcohol and substance misuse, personality disorder and dementia. The vision is ‘A World of Wellbeing’ and adopt a holistic approach to inspire people to accomplish this. 


Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) was adopted to attain maximum impact for Service Users with the aim to extend the capacity and effectiveness of the service by empowering Service Users to focus on what they are good at to help build a community of sustainable support. 


Working with people’s strengths increases the confidence, self-esteem and aspiration and leads to a more sustainable improvement in mental health. Staff support Service Users identify community assets which can help them achieve their goals. A bespoke ABCD outcome monitoring tool has been developed drawing attention to “what’s strong, rather than what’s wrong”. 

This is a different approach to support, extends beyond service delivery and recognises the resources and strengths of local communities and the importance of community action and collaboration. 

Community Links


Customer Services Excellence Award

This organisation is a local authority service who is introducing 4 weekly waste collection service, the first 4 weekly waste collection service in the UK, which requires excellent customer communication to make it successful.  The Council has statutory obligations to manage waste responsibility based on the principles of sustainability.


A year-long trial of 10,900 properties throughout the county showed recycling increased by 14% and black bin waste reduced by 31%, saving 1,040 tonnes from landfill, the equivalent of 87 double decker buses. Communicating the change was key. Information from the trial was used to gain feedback and fine tune the planned changes to the service provided. It enabled them to address some of the concerns of customer groups.


A comprehensive communications strategy is in place, to get the message out as widely as possible about the change in collections: using traditional and electronic means.  They have made the consultation of customers integral to continually improving our service and advise customers of the results and action taken. 

Conwy County Borough Council


The Merlin Standard Award

This award recognises effective supply chain management, that creates a win-win partnership with their supply chain to deliver excellent value to the customer. 


This organisation describes how they have embedded the Merlin principles across all our Supply Chain practices, from ‘Design’ to ‘Exit’. 


This has helped the organisation to achieve ‘Excellent’ in the Merlin standard for the last three consecutive assessments. they recognise that through effective relationships with supply chain partners it enables them to deliver stable contracts and strong Payment-by-Results outcomes, which in turn delivers excellent results to commissioning bodies.


They have embedded the Merlin principles across their ‘Contract Lifecycle Framework’, and all partnerships are managed through this lens, meaning that Merlin has grown from employability programmes, out into the Youth and Health sectors, bringing quality practices to commissioners including the National Citizen Service Trust and NHS.


Merlin’s focus on collaboration has encouraged them to build Partner consultation and service co-design into internal governance and these structures and processes help them create sustainable supply chains and long-term relationships.



The matrix Standard Award

This is a relatively young organisation, that was formed in 2015; a training provider who has positioned itself to work with large employers who now form part of the apprenticeship levy delivery.  It prides itself on programmes which are embedded within employers and will have impact on the organisation and ultimately the learners, because of this they look for business buy in and ownership of apprenticeship programmes which are strategically aligned – a win/win/win situation. 


Feedback on the service delivery has directly led to the development of an “apprenticeship Foundation”, the Foundation is a series of IAG based workbooks which provide learners with the opportunity to demonstrate clear understanding of their progression routes, their expectations in terms of programme attainment and to leave the programme with an impartial development plan for their personal career aspirations.


This is a training provider that fully understands the value of high quality IAG about and within a learning programme. 

Performance Learning Group


The Families First Quality Award

This organisation is a co-education Church of England Academy with over 1,400 pupils on roll, supported by approximately 120 teaching & 130 support staff.  The organisation described how they have worked to the provision of information to families, to make information available in several formats and make school accessible and welcoming to all.  They have changed the way they do things, to make the experience of parents visiting the school a positive one.  Feedback has been that parents are now more engaged with school and see attending a positive and informative experience.  The school’s parent forums have expressed concerns over mental health,  they now have staff trained in Mental Health First Aid and employed two full time counsellors, run mindfulness sessions and have a ‘walk a mile’ for students and staff on a Wednesday lunch time. 


They felt they were always moving in the right direction but the Families First Quality Award allowed us to explore everything we already had in place and identify where improvements could be made; stating:

“As a school we feel we have benefitted from the process and have since made further steps to enhancing the service we provide to students, parents and the wider community.” 

Woodchurch High School, Wirral