We are seeing so many requests for support from learners on social media to help them complete their assignments, where to find evidence and people struggling as assignments have been returned with minimal feedback. We thought we would explain the role of the assessor in vocational qualifications. We have both been so lucky that any qualifications we have undertaken or when we both started out as assessors we were supported by an amazing team of assessors and tutors, who really encouraged our learning and professional development. We hope that we pass this on to our assessors and learners.

The main role of the assessor is to help and support the learner to complete their qualification.

Assessors should be qualified and are trained to assess work through a variety of sources. All assessors are working within a set criteria for each level of the qualification; standardised by their training provider, whether it is a school, college, apprenticeship provider or training company. The awarding body will hold annual visits to all their centres by an EQA – External Quality Adviser to make sure that they are all following the strict guidelines that are set out to all centres. Assessors should be attending standardisation meetings throughout the year to ensure that all learners are being assessed the same way and that all assessors have the same expectations.

Each centre will have a lead IQA – Internal Quality Assurer whose main role is to ensure that all assessors are fulfilling their job role. The IQA will sample the learners’ work throughout their course, not to check the learners’ work, but to ensure that the assessor is fulfilling their role correctly and to the standards set out by the awarding body. It is the same for the EQA who will be checking the IQA and the centres roles and work. Assessors should complete annual CPD to ensure their own knowledge is up to date as possible. They should also be informed about the most up to date adaptations of each course that they assess on.

An assessors main role is to support each of their learners individually to meet the criteria of the qualification that they are on. Some learners need more support than others, this could depend on their job role, experience, where they are working/volunteering, experience of previous education or an additional learning need.

For each level of qualification assessors should be marking work at a certain level; assessors’ expectation of learners knowledge will vary hugely from a level 2 to 5. At level 2 assessors should be teaching for most of the qualification, at level 3 assessors would expect a lot more reflection and knowledge already gained from doing the job role, at level 4 and 5 the learner would be expected to do a lot more self studying, analysing and research. A learner should expect support throughout their learning journey irrelevant to the level of their qualification.

Work should not just be sent/ given back without guidance as to how to expand to meet the criteria. Assessors should be able to support and guide learners as to where they should be looking to find the correct evidence.

So what should you do if you feel you are not getting the support you need? In the first place you should speak to your assessor, they may be unaware that you want more support or feel you are not getting enough. If possible try to have the conversation via email or a record of the conversation in writing. The assessor should record this in a work plan/feedback sheet. If you still feel after that conversation that you are not getting the support you need, speak to the IQA, you should be aware of who this is from your induction, again try to have a written record.

If after this if you feel that you are not being supported then speak to the awarding body, who will look into this and if necessary issue sanctions against the training provider. You should be enjoying your learning journey and not struggle. That is why it is so important that you are sign posted to the correct level of qualification from the start and you are supported throughout.

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