External Verification Process
‘A system that confirms the Quality Assurance of all aspects of a programme’s preparation, resourcing, delivery, assessment, documentation and certification’.
The process is designed to be rigorous but at the same time positive and supportive, and is intended to highlight areas of good practice within a subject, sector or area of provision, as well as identify any areas of concern.
The External Verifier(s) appointed to a centre will be detailed on the Quality Plan and will be the result of discussions between the Quality Assurance Manager and the Quality Reviewer. The number and frequency of External Verification visits will be determined by:
- The number of sectors being delivered by the centre
- Outcomes of previous External Verifier reports
- National/regional priorities.
The role of the External Verifier is to:
- To ensure that Agored Cymru accredited provision is delivered in accordance with regulatory requirements
- Verify the standards of achievement of learners
- Monitor the learners experience of the programme
- Provide an ongoing source of objective and impartial advice to centres
- Support the continuous improvement of the quality and fitness for purpose of Agored Cymru accredited provision.
External Verifiers will either have expertise in a specific subject / sector area, in a particular type of provision, or both, in addition to proficiency in Agored Cymru procedures, systems, etc. All will have had experience as practitioners in fields relevant to their verification responsibilities and as a result will have experienced many similar successes and problems that are possibly encountered within the provision they are now verifying. They will have no connection with the centre of the programme being verified.
A Sector Verifier will have expertise in, and responsibility for, the external quality assurance of a specific subject area within the provision. Appointment may be in very specific sector areas such as Health and Social Care (Sector 1.3), Travel and Tourism (Sector 8.2), and Creative Art and Design (Sector 9.4) or may be in wider more generic areas such as Learning Skills, Return-to-work Skills, Communication Skills, Adult Literacy and Numeracy, ESOL, and Team Working all of which are in Sector 14 (Preparation for Life and Work)
For smaller centres one Verifier may be appointed for the entire provision. With larger centres, where it is possible, a single verifier will be appointed for all courses taking place within a specific Sector, e.g. Art, Languages or Health, or area of provision such as Family Learning.
Verification will be targeted, with successfully documented, well internally verified provision being subject to reduced external scrutiny and fewer external verification visits. While broad areas of the total provision will be externally verified this does not mean that every course or individual unit within large areas of provision, such as a ‘Return to Learn’ programme, will be externally verified each academic year. However documentation for such courses, particularly that relating to internal verification, should be available for the verifier.
In addition to providing the external quality assurance related to the particular sector, the external verifier has responsibility for confirming that the systems and processes identified by the Quality Reviewer are actually being implemented. This will include confirmation that a robust Internal Verification is in place.
Contact with the External Verifier
Agored Cymru makes every effort to allocate Verifiers to specific centres and areas of provision as early as possible. However confirmation of appointment can only be made once the Agored Cymru knows that the provision is running.
Once verifiers have been appointed to a particular centre the main contact for the organisation will be notified of the verifier contact details. Although it should be noted that it is the responsibility of the Verifier to make contact with the relevant centre to arrange the date and venue for the verification visit.
At this stage the Verifier will give an indication of what they may wish to see and who they would like to talk to during the visit. If they have given no indication then the co-ordinator should ask for clarification.
Preparation for the external verification visit
Verifiers may wish to visit different venues when a programme or course is delivered at multiple sites, although these may be visited on rotation over a period of time. If only one site is visited internal verification documentation from other sites should be available, along with samples of learners’ work if requested.
A Sector Verifier may wish to see some or all of the following:
The Programme / Course Co-ordinator
Wherever possible, or failing that another designated person with knowledge of the programme. This person will receive feedback from the Verifier.
The Subject Tutor
The Subject / Tutor File
It should be noted that choice of samples is the responsibility of the Verifier and not the tutor. Files should contain ongoing valid evidence of achievement, cross-referenced to the relevant assessment criteria, and separated from handouts and other non-evidential paperwork such as course notes. For verification close to the end of a course run there should be evidence that the files have been sampled by an Internal Verifier.
A Subject Verifier will not necessarily wish to meet the learners on each visit.
Internal Verification Documentation
This should provide evidence that, internal verification systems are implemented. Evidence would include documentation of planning to cover all tutors and all units, sampling of sufficient learners’ work, feedback to tutors, and records of what internal verification has actually taken place. Documents for recording internal verification can be found on the Agored Cymru website.
It is important that, if possible, a room is made available for the Verifier’s use during the visit. Tutor / Course files, work to be sampled, and any other documentation such as that related to internal verification, should be available in this room so that the Verifier can view them without distraction.
If a Sector Verifier is visiting a central venue but also reviewing learners’ work and documentation from outreach centres, arrangements will have to be made to collect and deliver the work and documentation into the central venue.
The co-ordinator should talk to any tutors involved to make sure that they are familiar with the verification processes and know what to expect. This is particularly important when a tutor is new to Agored Cymru accreditation and may be apprehensive about the visit. Likewise, any learners who will be involved with the visit should have the process explained to them. Please prepare learners and explain that any issues they raise should have been discussed with the tutor or course team before being raised with the Verifier.
Remember that it is not part of the Verifier’s responsibility to assess work but to confirm the decisions made by internal verifiers and assessors.
If the provision has been moderated previously make sure that you read the last Verifier’s report and are familiar with the contents, both positive and negative. Check that any action agreed by the team as a result of the last verification has been acted upon.
The reporting process
When the Verifier has completed the visit they will give feedback to the co-ordinator or designated person. This feedback is an important part of the process and should include all the main points that appear in the final report. A copy of the key issues discussed at the feedback session must be signed by the centre representative and the External Verifier and left with the centre. The External Verifier will also keep a copy.
The Verifier will complete their final report and forward it to Agored Cymru. Copies of the final report, together with a letter highlighting areas of good practice and any issues arising, are sent to the Chief Executive of the centre and, if requested, to the co-ordinator. Reports will be sent with 20 working days of the visit taking place.
If there are any issues or areas of concern a ‘Verification Response Form’ will be enclosed, which normally has to be completed and returned to Agored Cymru within four weeks. This form is used to detail the action to be taken by the centre / course team in response to the issues raised.
Service standards regarding external verification can be found here.