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Working within Internal and External Requirements

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You should always have a holistic outlook when thinking about the working of an internal quality assurer. It is important to think about all players involved from your staff, learners and external parties.

You then need to focus on their needs and how you are going to address them from the perspective of the internal quality assurer. 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 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 recent case 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 which relied on these certificates where put at risk. The moral here is that failing to honor your obligations as an assessor can have dire consequences to a number 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.

Quality Assurers 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 of you to 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:

Awarding bodies

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 Framework. 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 qualifications framework, 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 for 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 helping teachers maintain good discipline, using resources fairly and freedoms for schools and colleges.

Confidentiality

As an teacher, it is essential you maintain confidentiality in line with your organisation registration with the Information Commissioners Office and the Data Protection Act 1998. 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.

Also make sure you have a password on any memory sticks you have just in case this gets lost. You will be expected to encourage your assessors to also maintain confidentiality and not include any sensitive information as part of assessments. 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 public the right to request information which might be considered in the public interest such as the number of staff. 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 owners permission. You, therefore, need to ensure you are not asking 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

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.

Equality

It is important for teachers 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 over do it which could result in reverse exclusion. For example, teachers spending more time with learners with learning needs at the expensive of those who do not have.

Remember as a teacher 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?

Intellectual Properties

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 Qualifications 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 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 which 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.

Appeals Procedures

Another policy which 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.