An insider’s guide to Assessor and Verifier Qualifications

Scholefield reviews the new Assessor and Verifier Qualifications for NVQs and
asks are they are a threat or an opportunity?

The quality assurance aspect of National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
has always been a matter for debate. So the current changes being implemented
to NVQs are welcome news and long overdue for those who believe that they are a
valuable part of the qualifications structure.

The Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA) has published The NVQ Code of
Practice1, to replace the previous Common Accord. While the code makes for
heavy reading, it gives those involved in NVQ implementation an approved centre
criteria. These are designed to be used by awarding bodies such as City &
Guilds, OCR and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

A tariff of sanctions has been drawn up in consultation with the awarding
bodies to ensure:

– Transparency, equity and consistency of treatment between awarding bodies
and their approved centres in response to identified shortcomings

– Public confidence in the quality assurance and control arrangements that
underpin the implementation and assessment of NVQs

The qualifications for assessors, internal verifiers and external verifiers,
fall under the standard-setting body for learning and development, the
Employment National Training Organisation. The revised standards were finally
agreed in December 2001. Awarding bodies then worked to agree the evidence
requirements and have prepared their responses to these new standards.

Those responsible for the operation of NVQ centres will face some
interesting challenges in the years ahead. They will need to carefully evaluate
their systems and procedures to see how they measure up to the approved centre
criteria and how they monitor the working practices of their assessors and
internal verifiers.


Over the years, a number of qualifications have been offered to ensure that
those assessing competence were in fact competent assessors. These were a
cascade model, the Workplace Trainer and Assessor award; an assessed model, the
City & Guilds 929 series; the D units, and now the A and V units.

For the assessor units A1 and A22, it will be important to decide who will
take the lead in assessment, especially as there is another unit, L20 – Support
competence in the workplace, which could be a suitable unit for a team leader or
supervisor of the NVQ candidate.

– Unit A1: Assess candidates using a range of methods. This is the
most complex assessment unit as it requires the assessor to use at least four
methods including observation, questioning, accreditation of prior experience
and achievement and simulations.

The use of observation is a mandatory requirement. Evidence of knowledge
will be required for the four assessment methods not used.

The NVQ Code of Conduct stresses the need for independent assessment. This
means some standard-setting bodies will include formal testing and evidence
from others in their assessment strategy for their qualifications.

D33 has three elements and A1 has four. The last element, A1.4 – Contribute
to the internal quality assurance process, is all about how the assessor has
processed candidate assessment records and contributed to standardisation
meetings. A written statement from an internal verifier is also needed to
confirm how the assessor has contributed to agreed quality assurance procedures.

– Unit A2 is closely linked to D32. The changes are about the need to
have written outcomes from progress reviews combined with updated assessment
plans. Assessment plans must also show how issues of safety, minimum disruption
to work activities and unobtrusive assessment have been planned.

The theme of continuous improvement is stressed, as the last element
requires the assessor’s internal verifier to state how the candidate has
contributed to quality assurance procedures.

– L20 Support competence achieved in the workplace This is another
unit worth looking into. It covers:

– Assessing performance in the workplace against agreed standards

– Giving staff members support in the workplace and feedback on their

It could really help managers to see the value of NVQs because if standards
of performance are aligned to the NVQ standards, a powerful performance
management tool is available to them. The evidence requirements of this unit
are currently being devised by the awarding bodies offering it.

– V1 Conduct internal quality assurance of the assessment process It
has some major changes when compared with D34. The chart below gives an

This unit will give NVQ centres that have been operating a high-profile
quality assurance system a very real sense of satisfaction. It places emphasis
on internal verification being a continuous process, rather than an end

The unit describes some of the activities that internal verifiers are likely
to undertake including:

– Monitoring the performance of assessors

– Supporting assessors to develop their skills

– Monitoring and supporting the people and organisations who provide
administrative support to the assessment process

– Monitoring and reporting on the achievement rates of candidates

– Monitoring the progress and satisfaction of candidates

– Meeting the assessment requirements of awarding bodies and other external

These activities show that the scope of this unit is much broader. It
describes a role that is not fulfilled by many internal verifiers. Is this a
fault in the unit specification, or is it a fitting challenge for aspiring and
existing internal verifiers?

It may well be that the development of internal verifiers will be a much
longer process in the future, which in itself is not such a bad thing. It will
give verifier candidates time to consolidate and build on existing skills. The
EMPNTO Learning and Development Assessment Strategy2 has given internal
verifiers the criteria which includes that "all internal verifiers will
have sufficient experience of having conducted assessments of the specific
national occupational standards they are verifying or in an appropriate and
related occupational area".

Sufficient occupational competence is defined as:

– Having been an assessor for the standards being assessed, or for a set of
standards in a related occupational area, for a minimum of one year within the
last two years

– Having demonstrated updating within the last year involving at least two
activities, including:

– Attending awarding body verification training courses

– Studying for learning and development units

– Study related to job role

– Collaborative working with awarding bodies

– Qualifications development work

All internal verifiers will have direct responsibility and quality control
of assessments of the occupational standards, or the quality assurance of the
assessment process within an assessment centre which has been approved by an
awarding body.

Other requirements include that all internal verifiers will either hold the
relevant qualification for internal verifiers of national occupational
standards, or have a development plan indicating progress towards that

Internal verifiers of assessor candidates are required to have achieved
their Internal Verification unit before they can start to internally verify
assessor candidates. Similarly, internal verifiers of internal and external
verifier candidates must have achieved their own Assessor and Verifier Units
before they can start to internally verify the verifier candidates.

The development of internal verifiers needs to be more considered. A
suitable development programme would be to focus on V1.2 first, then move on to
V1.3. Once these elements are consolidated V1.1 should be tackled, and finally,


The implications for those managing NVQ centres will be the need to evaluate
current practices against the NVQ Code of Practice, and the requirements of
EMPNTO’s Assessment Strategy and the A and V units. It is an excellent time to
re-evaluate procedures, systems and processes.

The regulatory aspect of the NVQ Code of Practice will place pressure on NVQ
Centres and awarding bodies. Those NVQ centres benefiting from government
funding also need to take account of the Adult Learning Inspectorate3 (ALI) The
transparency of their operations is excellent, and at last, an employer wishing
to work with a funded organisation can immediately see the status of the
potential partner by visiting the website.

Those who are passionate about the value of vocational qualifications will
rise to the challenge. Those who do not provide a quality service to their
candidates will see the changes as another imposition. Overall, the marketplace
for vocational qualifications will be the better for these changes as long as
funding agencies such as the Learning and Skills Councils start to take note of
NVQ centres failing to meet awarding body requirements and those who have
problematic inspections from the ALI.

Comparison between the D units and the A and V units

D32 Assess candidate                                     A2
Assess candidates’   
performance                                                     performance
through observation

D33 Assess candidate                                     A1 Assess
using differing sources                                       using a
range of methods of evidence      

D34 Internally verify the                                    V1 Conduct internal
assessment process                                           assurance
of the assessment process

D35 Externally verify the                                   V2 Conduct external
assessment process                                           assurance
of the assessment process

Maureen Scholefield is managing
director of Cullen Scholefield – a personnel, management and training
Consultancy. Maureen has been a National Verifier for Training and Development
with City & Guilds. She works with organisations to devise strategic plans
and tactical responses to the management of NVQ systems


1 NVQ Code of Practice published by
QCA. Order Ref QCA/02/875

Free from QCA Publications Telephone: 01787 844 444

2  Learning and
Development standards published by EMPNTO. Available on CD-Rom: visit

3 Adult Learning Inspectorate

Comparison between D34 and V1

No easy link to D34                                         V1.1
Carry out and link to D34 evaluate internal assessment and quality assurance systems

D341 Advise support assessors                        V1.2 Support assessors   

D342 Maintain and monitor arrangements
        No easy match in the
new standards
for processing assessment information

D343 Verify assessment practice                      V1.3 Monitor the quality
of assessors’ performance

No easy link to D34                                         V1.4
Meet external quality assurance requirements

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