As an assessor your backbone is the procedures in your own area of practice. Assessors working in different areas will have their own unique procedures in place. For example, assessors working on business qualifications will be able to use simulation while those working in health and social care sector use this method of assessing only in exceptional circumstances. It is also worth remembering that systems vary from centre to centre. It is only the assessment process that should remain the same.
The systems in place could be:
-equal opportunities and inclusion procedures
-assessors have support from management to take appropriate action and help candidates develop their competence.
-assessors are supported by the lead assessor or internal quality assurer to change assessments in order to meet individual learning needs.
-candidates are supported to access safe, fair, valid and reliable assessment in line with relevant legislation.
-there are procedures and policies designed to meet the different needs of candidates.
-signpost to other organisations in order to address some learner needs we cannot meet internally.
-work with other organisation to meet needs of learners.
You should always take a holistic outlook when working as an assessor. It is important for you to reflect on the influence of your organisational and external requirements. Also consider the influence of all parties involved such as your colleagues, learners and employers. You then need to focus on their needs and how you are going to address them in your role. For example, learners will expect you to support them to gain skills while employers might expect you to provide a value for money service. You might find yourself, having to balance the needs of various parties. For example, learners might want fast track while your awarding body might not recommend or endorse this method.
One thing which sticks is the need for you as a practitioner to respect your working environment. Respect involves following procedures in place and ensuring you are maintaining the quality of services and qualifications. It is important you are also professional and recognise the potential consequences of being a rogue practitioner which not only can damage your career but can also result in various legal problems.
It is also important to recognise that learners should be treated as vulnerable and should be protected. A working environment that is not conducive can lead to all sorts of problems. If you consider some of the current affairs in the United Kingdom where International students have fallen foul to dodgy colleges which have resulted in some of them being deported.
Another case some time ago involved Bright International who were discovered to have falsified evidence for learners which resulted in awarding bodies withdrawing certificates and asking candidates to be reassessed. Jobs that relied on these certificates where put at risk. The moral here is that failing to honour your obligations as an assessor can have dire consequences to a number of parties. You could easily be complacent in allowing a dangerous person to be unleashed on an innocent public as a holder of qualifications they have not earned.
Assessors have to adhere to the rules of their micro and macro environment. The micro-environment refers to your own organisational requirements. The macro-environment refers to the influence outside your organisation such as awarding bodies, Ofqual and Ofsted.
You will be expected not only to know all the policies and regulations that affect you. You will need to show an understanding and embrace them as part of your practice. Regardless of the area, you will be assessing there will be an expectation that you will work in line with your organisational policies and applicable legislation.
Usually, a majority of policies are mapped against awarding body, skills sector and regulatory requirements. This settles well with some regulations, policies and legislation which we will discuss later on under roles and responsibilities. There are a number of organisations, regulations, policies and legislation you should be aware of as an assessor. Some of these are discussed below:
In your role you will most likely be influenced by awarding bodies. These are United Kingdom government approved organisations allowed to regulate qualifications. The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) acts on behalf of the government in England, Wales and North Ireland. The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) acts on behalf of the Scottish government to perform a similar role. These government bodies work with sector skills councils when developing the qualifications. Sector skills research and come up with the occupational standards linked with job roles.
Awarding bodies role and duties include designing qualifications following any framework in place such as the Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF). They approve centres and provide guidance and support to ensure qualifications are run safely. They have other roles such as generating certificates to successful candidates and ensuring the credibility of qualifications is maintained.
You are expected to follow all awarding body regulations and terms of your organisation’s registration. Not doing so might result in your organisation having sanctions, which can even result in suspension. Prior to the introduction of QCF qualifications, awarding bodies relied on the NVQ code of practice 1996 which they used to regulate training organisations and assessors. For example, the code of practice required verifiers to prove they were also qualified assessors as the argument was how they could support assessors if they were not qualified assessors themselves?
Funding bodies requirements
You might also need to be aware of funding bodies especially if your organisation provides funded courses. The main body is the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) especially when you assess apprenticeships. Other funding sources could be banks under the Careers Development Loans? Some funding might also come under various schemes, which help learners to get back into work. All these funding bodies have a number of characteristics, which are common such as the eligibility criteria? You will be expected to check if learners are eligible to be funded. Other expectations will be to provide a value for money service, which includes ensuring learners are supported and maintaining records. You are tasked with maintaining standards to avoid clawback of funds or non-payment. At one point the SFA clawed back some funds after discovering some providers who were giving learners a multiple choice question where they were expected to clearly identify regulations that affect them in their own practice.
Health and Safety
Your practice should be ethical. Do not expose yourself, learners, staff and yourself to any unnecessary risks. For example, insisting on assessments to be carried out in a risky environment.
As a quality assurer, you have to ensure any place of learning is safe and conducive to learning. You can imagine unheated classrooms during winter. Imagine classrooms with untested electrical equipment and exposed cables. This is just asking for trouble.
You have to ensure you carry out risk assessments to ensure the environment is safe in line with the Health and Safety Act 1974. You might be expected to report any injuries to your learners, customers and staff especially if this occurs at your premises in line with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).
It is also worthwhile considering other legislation that protects and safeguards learners such as the also Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 which established the legal basis for the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and the Disclosure and Barring Service. Depending on your setting, the green paper “Every Child Matters’ might apply. The green paper stresses the importance of information sharing between agencies and promotes a framework of services, which will support every child. Also depending on the organisation, you work the Education Act 2011 might apply to help teachers maintain good discipline, using resources fairly and freedoms for schools and colleges.
As an assessor, it is essential you maintain confidentiality and safeguard information and the privacy of others. Your work should be in line with the GDPR regulations 2018 which gives learners the right to know what is recorded about them and how this information will be stored. Learner’s personal information should be protected and not shared with anyone who is not authorised. This can be done by locking away the information, ensuring there a secure password on all the gadgets you use to access confidential information.
It is important to ensure your records are accurate and appropriate. Your learners have a right to access their information. It is also worthwhile to bear in mind that if you work for any public body the Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives members of the public the right to request information that might be considered in the public interest. The consequences of not respecting confidentiality could be very severe. You need to consider this from a number of some perspectives.
Learners could lose confidence in your organisation if you break confidentiality which could result in bad reputation. Think of the recent negative press regarding big companies such as TalkTalk and Tesco when their services were hacked.
You could also be sued and fined by the Information Commissioner. They famously fined Google for collecting information without the owner’s permission. You, therefore, need to ensure you are not asking for any information that is not relevant to their enrolment such as wanting to know if a learner is in a relationship or any other inappropriate personal information. Awarding bodies and other regulators could also sanction your organisation for confidentiality which might result in loss of contracts. You, therefore, need to embrace the importance of maintaining confidentiality and data protection.
It is important for you to fully embrace the Equality Act 2010 as part of your practice. You have to ensure that learners have access to resources, facilities and treated fairly particularly when it comes to assessments. Awarding bodies will want you to make a statement about inclusion and equal opportunities. They might want to know how you are promoting and monitoring equality.
When thinking about equality consider how your organisation and practice satisfies all the protected characteristics. You could start by examining the resources you have in place. Are they offensive, stereotypical or delegatory in any way? Changes will need to be made if you find anything negative.
It is also your task to ensure that your staff embrace equality. You could also consider the timing of workshops or classroom-based work. If you are working in the adult sector, have you considered the needs of all your learners? Other considerations include an understanding of cultural and religious needs. It is quite known that some candidates who are Muslim or Jewish might not want to be doing activities during a Friday afternoon. The same can be said for learners who belong to Jehovah’s witness who might find it hard to attend workshops on a Saturday.
You might also want to ensure there is disabled access and the needs of those with medical needs such as diabetes are addressed during course delivery.
You need to ensure you comply with the law and remember not to overdo it which could result in reverse exclusion. For example, assessors spending more time with learners with learning needs at the expense of those who do not have.
Remember as an assessor you have to contribute to the government’s agenda when it comes to promoting minimum core skills (language, literacy, numeracy and information technology). It is not equality to allow your staff to deliver lessons in another language for the simple reason that English is not their first language. It is illegal in the United Kingdom to deliver courses in another language unless it is a languages course and the specification allows this. Only learners in Wales have the opportunity of studying in another language besides English.
When thinking about equality please also consider the Human Rights Act 1998 and its principles. You also need to consider aspect such as safeguarding. How are you protecting your young learners? How have you also address the PREVENT agenda in your work setting?
Linked with Equality is Inclusive Practice is a concept that features throughout your course. This refers to recognising, accommodating and meeting the needs of all your learners. For example, a learner with a disabling medical condition may also have English as an additional language and be a single parent. Inclusive teaching avoids pigeonholing (profiling) learners into specific groups with predictable and fixed approaches to learning.
Inclusive practice is creating and presenting opportunities for learning in such a way that they are accessible to all learners. It also involves making what you teach and the way you teach it much more flexible.
Inclusive practice also includes taking into consideration different learning styles, teaching and embracing diversity. As a teacher, you also need to consider good communication and your behavior. You should be a role model and should stay away from using offensive language and jargon. It is also important to ensure you give all your learners attention and consider your class management skills. There will be more discussion about this during the next topics.
It is important for you to recognise that inclusive practice is not about making radical changes to a course and just focusing on under-represented groups.
Conflict of interest, reasonable adjustment and prior learning
Other policies that are key to the assessor role are reasonable adjustment, considering recognised prior learner and conflict of interest. You should apply reasonable adjustment to assessments to meet learner needs. This should however not give the learner an unfair advantage compared others but to simply meet their needs. For example, increasing the time a candidate who has an injured hand can take. Some instances of reasonable adjustment require awarding body approval. The first assessment method should always be consideration of prior learning. You should apply the principles of assessment before accepting any evidence. Assessors should not quality assure their own work. You are expected to declare an interest that might affect your assessment decisions. For example, assessing a family member or someone with whom you have a financial link.
Another important work of a teacher concerns the need to protect copyrights and ensure sources are acknowledged. You need to have systems in place to detect plagiarism and ensure learners are not cheating their way into getting qualifications. It is important for you to ensure learners understand the need to use and the importance of references. This will
Please provide information about referencing earlier on during induction and throughout the course. It is easier when you make links to the course specification and any other requirements. For example, the QCF Framework does have some descriptors that require learners studying at level five to be proficient in Harvard Referencing by the end of the course. It will be good if you have a system which includes a warning stage to give learners the chance to learn from their mistakes and hopefully value the need to acknowledge sources and intellectual property.
You can use services such as Turnitin and Grammarly. A simple google check can also identify sources used by learners. There is a massive temptation for learners these days to tap into a lot of information found on the internet. Websites offering write up services have increased this temptation and have made the job of ensuring the authenticity of evidence more difficult. Awarding bodies and regulators such as Ofsted treat learners who plagiarise as cheats.
It is also important to ensure resources being used by learners respect intellectual property in line with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. It is both unprofessional and embarrassing for you to fail to be role models when it comes to copyrights. Reminds me of a recent story in the press when a teacher used some handout borrowed from an American website that had content not suitable for school children.
Complaints and Grievances
You will be expected to follow the complaints and grievances procedure in place. This should be accessible to both your learners and staff. You should also allow access to your customers and any third parties you network with. These procedures should be clear and state what exactly needs to happen and time scales from when a complaint is raised. Each and every organisation will have its own procedures which suits its needs and services. The general gist is for you to explain all the procedures a learner will need to follow when they are dissatisfied from the internal to external stage. A typical procedure might involve a learner being expected to raise an issue with their assessor first. If everything fails, then they are expected to seek audience with the internal quality assurer. If there is no resolution, then they might be expected to appeal to the Centre Manager. If their grievance remains unsolved, it might be time for the learner to seek address with your awarding body. Awarding bodies will normally only intervene when all internal procedures have been followed. They will normally not comment about your organisational procedures and system unless if they are unfair.
As already stated above, there should be grievances procedures. Procedures for customers and employers should follow various consumer laws in place. It is important you ensure that third parties such as employers do not interfere in the assessment and quality assurance process which could disadvantage your learners. It is important for you to ensure learners are aware of their rights and responsibilities from enrolment and throughout their period as a learner. The procedures are there to empower and be used.
Another policy that belongs to the same family as grievances is the appeals procedures. Learners should have the right to appeal against assessment decisions. You need to ensure these procedures are clear and state roles, responsibilities and timescales. It is very important that learners remain being supported and assisted to better understand the rational for any assessment decisions. Appeals procedures should not be used to intimidate staff and compromise the quality of assessment. Although this varies from organisation to organisation, a typical appeals procedure might require a learner to speak with their assessor first. They are then expected to appeal to the internal quality assurer if the first stage fails to bring a resolution. The learner will also have the option of appealing to the Centre Manager before the appeal is eligible to be heard externally. There might be a fee associated with any appeal directly to the awarding body.
As established above the assessor role is not isolated from the legislative and regulatory requirements. You should always embrace internal (policies) and external (awarding body policies) requirements.
Failure to work in line with external requirements can have severe consequences such as loss of your job, bad reputation, fines from regulators, sanctions and being sued.
In short you need to embrace the following:
– GDPR Regulations 2018
– Human Rights Act 1998
– Health and Safety Act 1974
– Equality Act 2010
-Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
– Every Child/Learner Matters
– Need for DBS’s
– Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers in Education and Training – England (2014)
– professional codes of conduct
– awarding body regulations:
– Ofqual,Ofsted, funding bodies and ther stake holders.
Ask your self how you work in line with data protection?
-you need to write about how recording is done
– how confidentility and data protection is maintained?
– how data stored?
-how assessment decisions are passed on to other people within an agreed system?
How do you promote equality and inclusion?
-you use language and behaviour which does not discriminate against any candidate
-you encourage candidates to ask questions and get advice
-you give feedback to candidates with different levels of confidence and experience
-you encourage candidates who have different levels of confidence and experience to take an active part in their assessment
– you recognise and challenge unfair discrimination
How do you minimise risks?
When you think of risks consider health and safety requirements. Do you require certain training, qualifications, licenses to use certain equipment? You need to discuss the importance of carrying out a risk assessment as part of minimising risks. Consider all the initiative promoting the welfare of your learners (social distance, providing breaks, toilets etc). Consider your methods of safeguarding your learners.