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The Role of the Work-based Assessor

This article first appeared in On Course - Issue 27

David Golding, GTC's Education Director, has invited Alistair Fraser, a lead verifier from one of the British Awarding Bodies, the NPTC, part of the City & Guilds Group, to explain how Vocational Qualifications are viewed.

The GTC is currently heavily involved both in the apprenticeship review and the development of the British Vocational Qualifications to fit into the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) so it is clear that on-the-job training and qualifications are going to be in demand throughout the countries in the European Union and beyond.

For golf club employers it is a message that a skilled workforce is more often than not the result of understanding the modern system of training in which Course Managers/Head Greenkeepers are key individuals in the VQ process.

Approved centres and training providers are far more flexible with their delivery methods both to support the VQ system and the vocationally related highly acclaimed Higher Education qualifications such as the HNC/D and Foundation Degree.

Alistair Fraser is a Lead Verifier for the NPTC and with his turf background has a great passion for the sports turf sector, he comments:

"In order for an NVQ programme to be most effective and efficient, it is essential that centres fully involve the Work-Based assessor. The GTC has trained numerous Work-Based assessors who are largely under-used and at times under-valued.

"The Work-Based Assessor is frequently the candidate's line manager and is the best person to validate whether or not the candidate is competent in meeting the standards prescribed by the NVQ (SVQ in Scotland)."

He continues, "Many candidates are certificated where the majority of the evidence has been assessed by the centre's visiting assessor.

This is a huge lost opportunity, as the ethos of an N/SVQ is to collect naturally occurring evidence in the workplace. It is particularly valuable as it testifies to the candidate's own performance in the workplace. The evidence can include: observations, candidate's statements, witness testimonies, photographs and product (for example, mown greens).

"The most cost effective and naturally occurring method of assessment on a golf course has to be observation since often the assessor is working alongside the candidate.

"Where the workplace has a qualified assessor then that evidence must be assessed by them as to whether it meets the standards. As a consequence the role of the centre should be solely involved with internal verification and auditing and supporting the workplace assessor. The evidence that contributes to the candidate's portfolio is gathered and assessed solely in the workplace and by their workplace assessor." He added.

A frequently asked question in the implementation of this process is "How do we standardise the assessment team when they are spread over a wide geographical area, the assessors have work commitments and do not turn up for meetings, standardisation sessions etc?" Standardisation may take many forms. In the case of widespread assessors, standardisation can be carried out remotely with the internal verifier photocopying assessment evidence and forwarding it to the Work-Based assessors to comment on validity and then the internal verifier can provide feedback on issues.

As to involving the assessor team in meetings, the availability of modern electrical 

communication systems such as video conferencing and telephone conferencing lends itself to these situations.

Where the ethos of work-based assessment is implemented fully within other industrial sectors, candidates complete the award in far more economic timescales. This is surely a major advantage to all those concerned i.e. candidate, employer, centre.

Alistair continues, "Occasionally a candidate has to wait for weeks (in some cases months) for an assessor to visit and assess them mowing a green, when their line manager/assessor has observed them competently carry out the process many times. As stated earlier "Who is the best person to judge that candidate's competence?" Let's make the assessment process work in the way it was designed almost twenty years ago.

"The NPTC will continue to work with organisations like the GTC who are totally 100% behind a quality range of qualifications for the sector they represent and a strong Awarding Body - industry partnership should result in an efficient and effective centre - verification - assessor - learner system."

"Watch this space..."

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