Excellence in initial assessment

Excellence in Initial Assessment
Published by ENTO 
Price: £25 plus p&p
Reviewed by John Charlton


“We all need someone we can lean on,” sang Sir Mick Jagger while he was still in the final phase of wasted youth. The same can be said of advice manuals, which are there to provide a prop when needed.

One that may appeal to training managers responsible for NVQ training programmes is Excellence in Initial Assessment (EIA), published by the Employment National Training Organisation (ENTO), which describes itself as the learning network for assessors and verifiers.

It provides detailed and structured information on the basic steps in assessing the individual training needs of staff who want or need an NVQ qualification.

It covers common assessment topics, such as how to assess occupational suitability, prior skills and learning and support needs. It also looks at how to devise a personal learning plan and set learning targets and objectives.

EIA also provides advice on relevant legal issues such as discrimination and human rights.

The points covered are spelt out simply and succinctly, and backed up with practical examples. For instance, the section on initial assessment methods includes a specimen application form used with 16 to 19-year-olds with suggestions for particular questions that will help in assessing learning needs and setting out individual learning plans.

This is followed by advice on effective questioning in assessment interviews, right down to the level of types of questions and the sort of responses they elicit.

But some of the tips are far too obvious. For example, the specimen interview preparation list includes checking whether the furniture is suitably arranged. Clearly, the authors – Hilary Read and Jane Wells – have adopted the old journalists’ maxim, ‘assume nothing’.

Such caveats aside, this is a handy, focused and easy-to-read guide to assessing training needs for NVQ candidates, and will appeal to training managers who have to do just that.

Finally, I’m grateful to the authors for providing me with a new saying: “feedback is the breakfast of champions”. And I thought it was Wheaties.

Excellence in initial assessment costs £25 plus p&p from ENTO on 0116 251 7979

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