Evaluate the importance of planning and preparing internal quality assurance activities. It is extremely important to plan and prepare for IQA activities to ensure that all requirements are met. A quality calendar and regular team meetings with a clear and concise agenda would ensure that any necessary points are addressed in manageable amounts. We are a small team and work closely together but unless we adhere to the above, things can get overlooked or forgotten. As the courses we deliver are ITQ, we have to continuously monitor the learning and the assessments to ensure we are up to date with most recent software packages that our learners may be using; this is something that has been overlooked previously and has now been scheduled into our quality calendar to be updated, ensuring that all past and current software packages are included in our course area. Our Feedback forms need to be improved upon, at present; the questions require a yes or no answer which is not allowing the learners to expand on their response and evaluate fully our service, provision, and their overall learning experience, which can help us to improve and develop on our existing practice, this has been included on our agenda to take to our next team meeting.
We also have an Assessor who is not based at our regional office and changes and updates to our provision were not always relayed, this has been improved upon by creating a Learnwithunite folder on our central V-drive and all updated documents are stored and shared. This also highlighted the need to hold more regular internal standardisation events to be held with all assessors in attendance. During these standardisation events it was suggested that attending external standardisation events, more frequently, would be beneficial, to share best practice with other centres.
Evaluate different techniques for sampling evidence of assessment, including use of technology
Our centre would use 100% sampling for a new assessor to the team, until the IQA is satisfied that the assessor is competent in the assessment process. Previously samples were chosen with no particular strategy in place, within our centre samples are now selected by a pre-designed, colour coded RAC, learners are entered onto the RAC in alphabetical order which ensures the learners are sampled at random, and that a good mixture of portfolios are selected and no preference is given.
We sample a minimum of five for a small group and 10 % of portfolios for a larger group and 100% of learner’s work, which gives good coverage of assessments and assessors. Previously all our sampled portfolios were printed and filed, whether or not the learner had achieved the learning outcomes was not always clear, as formatting could not be checked on a paper based document. We have now changed this process and store all our sampled work electronically on an external media storage unit, which is password protected. This has improved the effectiveness of our sampling, as the formatting carried out can be checked against the assessment criteria, to determine whether the learner has achieved the learning outcome and whether the assessor is being thorough and consistent with their marking.
Evaluate requirements for information management, data protection and confidentiality in relation to the internal quality assurance of assessment. Our centre is required to adhere to the data protection Act and confidentiality. We have a robust system in place within our centre. All filing cabinets are secure and electronic files are all password protected. We only gather information that is relevant and serves a purpose, E and D data are asked for upon registration, with the option of ‘Prefer not to say’ included. Learner details are only kept for the required period of time and all excess is disposed of appropriately.
Learners are informed of any information that will be shared with another organisation, such as the Learning services record to obtain a unique learner number. This ensures that the learner feels confident and secure with providing their personal details to our centre. All documents are dated and signed to allow us to have a visual audit trail which is easily identifiable. Any paper based documents that are no longer current are archived, clearly labelled and stored securely. Records of Assessment, achievement and Internal Verification activities are kept for the requested three year period and are readily available to the awarding body upon request.
Evaluate legal issues, policies and procedures relevant to the internal quality assurance of assessment, including those for health, safety and welfare.
As our centre provides on-line and distance learning, policies and procedures are accessible on the learning platform for learners, assessors, internal verifiers and external verifiers, hard copies are available and also stored in the ROD, which is checked on a monthly basis and updated accordingly, this enables all learners, staff and any other persons using our centre and learning platform to be fully aware of the current policies and procedures we practice. Although Unite provides these documents to all, there is no way of knowing whether the individual has read them, this is an area for improvement, where we could have an additional declaration document included to the site, asking the user to confirm that he/she understands and has read the policies and procedures and will be raised at our next team meeting. With these policies and procedures in place, Unite recognises that all people regardless of age, disability, gender, race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation have an equal right to protection from all types of harm or abuse and is committed to safeguarding the welfare of vulnerable adults that we work with.
The IQA process should ensure that organisational and regulatory requirements are always followed, such as the regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework (2008) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are designed to reflect the qualifications regulators’ policy commitment to a strategic, risk-based approach to safeguarding the interests of learners. Our centre adheres to these requirements along with the requirements of the Awarding body, by maintaining regular contact and having regular visits from an external verifier, to monitor our practice and ensure that any areas for improvement are implemented. Communications from the Awarding Body, such as updates, courses and reports are occasionally missed by some team members, as only certain members of staff have been privy to this information.
This can be addressed, by requesting to be included to the mailing list and creating a folder within our shared V drive, to store all the necessary updates, and will be an item on the agenda, at our next team meeting. All staff within our centre are DBS checked due to the nature of our work. A Health and Safety activity is built into our course to ensure learners are aware of the issues and hazards whilst using a computer to complete their assessments. If we intended to carry out a blended learning approach, with classroom based tuition, a risk assessment would be carried out before the course commenced, by Unites’ Health and Safety Officer. If the course was to be in another organisations workplace we would be reliant on the company to ensure all these checks had been made, this is an area for improvement and a relevant procedure needs to be put in place. We also provide links for further information on hazards, risk assessment, working with VDUs, and health and safety in the education sector.
6.2 Evaluate different ways in which technology can contribute to the internal quality assurance of assessment Technology contributes enormously to our IQA, all our learners’ assessments are stored on the learning platform alongside the assessors feedback and grades. Learners, Assessors and IV’s are able to communicate through the messaging system on the site, enabling the Assessor, to support the learners, the IV to support the assessor, at any given time. By now storing sampled work electronically, this has also given ease of access for Internal/External verification as this process can now be carried out at any time from any location which has enhanced the IQA process. This has raised issues around navigation on the site for new Assessors, IV’s, EV’s and college partnerships. To overcome this we have added a webinar to the course area, where we intend to add video tutorials for navigation, this is not yet fully developed and is a work in progress and will be a valuable tool in our IQA process. Training sessions for our centre staff will need to be scheduled to ensure everyone is competent with its usage.
Evaluate requirements for equality and diversity and, where appropriate, bilingualism, in relation to the internal quality assurance of assessment.
Our centre strives to ensure that Equality and diversity (Bilingualism) requirements for the assessment process are inclusive. Previously there was no online ICT initial assessment to determine which level the learner should commence with, some learners struggled and others were not adequately challenged, this has now been addressed with an ICT Initial Assessment Test, ensuring that learners are enrolled to the correct level. Our course area includes audio and video, as well as written activities. A blended learning approach would be made available to learners requiring tutor support and access to our learning centre for those who do not have the available resources to partake in the course. Previously there was a language barrier for migrant workers wanting to access the course; this has now been improved upon by providing an online ESOL course at levels 1, 2 and 3, on our learning platform, with experienced facilitators available to support.
On request reasonable adjustments and special considerations can be made for learners and approved before commencement of assessment, doing our upmost to assist learners to achieve and progress whilst still ensuring that the validity of the award of credit is not undermined.