Developing Qualifications Differently

Developing Qualifications Differently

What does CFI Awarding do?

Did you know that there are currently over 16,000 qualifications on the Regulated Qualification Framework? But many of them do the same thing and test the same or very similar things in the same way.

The challenge that CFI Awarding embrace is to create new and different qualifications – often in specialist fields where nothing currently exists. More than this, we look to help develop qualifications which feel meaningful and relevant to today’s learners and their aspirations for the future.

A wonderful example of this is something like the Crossfields Institute Level 3 Certificate in Community Orcharding, as community orchards are consistently growing in popularity and will need skilled people to develop and maintain them in years to come.

Similarly, the Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine was developed to reflect rising levels of interest in lifestyle interventions and person-centred medicine, and is designed to help clinicians and non-clinicians develop their personal practice.

The Qualification Development process

The process of developing a qualification begins with CFI Awarding talking to schools, learners, employers, the public, government – anyone really, to establish a need.

If a new qualification is needed, how many students are likely to want to take the qualification in any given year and then: what knowledge, abilities and skills the qualification should be instilling?

This is not a simple process. A qualification can be for hundreds of schools, or just one college or employer; it can be a large qualification that takes up to 3 years to complete or a small qualification that only lasts for one day.

Having agreed that a qualification is necessary and desirable the next step is to work together with a group of staff and stakeholders and agree what should be covered and how the student’s progress and achievement should be measured or tested.

Traditionally a lot of assessment of learners has been done by exam, but this can be unpopular with learners and many argue that this “high stakes testing” is just not the best way to find out what a student actually knows. 

Exams are also rarely designed to show what a student can do. A person’s future can rise or fall on the outcome of one day – and that is very stressful.

Because of this, CFI Awarding favour using portfolio-based assessment which looks at a wider variety of what a learner can do over a longer period of time, and in context.

If an awarding organisation is developing a qualification with this kind of assessment in mind, it has to be done carefully and with very strict quality controls around it so that the evidence of student achievement can be relied upon. Our role is to ensure rigorous quality assurance procedures around assessment before certificates are issued to learners.

Qualification Development in a changing world

Many people these days are more concerned with knowing that a learner can actually demonstrate what they have learned, rather than simply writing about it in a test. So some awarding organisations are evolving to make their qualifications more integrated, and about practice as much as theory.

Also, with information being so readily available, good qualifications these days shouldn’t be just about facts, but about how you interpret them, what you think about what you have learned and how it relates to your life or work.

Qualification development is an intense process of making sure that the qualification is asking the right questions of the learner, in the right way, at the right time and that you can be confident of the result.

Typically we will work with the stakeholders and ask questions like:

  • What exactly is the subject of the qualification?

  • What level should the qualification be? (for example, level 2 – GCSE level – or level 6 – degree level)

  • Who are the learners taking this qualification?

  • What experience or qualifications do they need before they start?

  • What are they likely to do after they complete this qualification? (for example, further study/work)

Once we have a clear idea of who the learners are and what the qualification is aiming to do, the next stage is to ask more detailed questions, such as:

  • What are the key things that the learner needs to know, understand and be able to do at the end of the qualification? (these are the learning outcomes and are a key part of any qualification)

  • How are we going to confirm that the student understands what they have been taught?

  • What experience or qualifications do those teaching the students need?

  • What quality assurance processes and systems do we need to put in place so that we can be sure that the qualification can be relied upon?

All these are important to know in order to contextualise the qualification and ensure that it is relevant and valid. This is how employers or the public in general know that someone really can do what a qualification says they can.

After asking all these questions, a qualification specification will emerge, examples of which can be found here. The specification is the key document which full information about the qualification as well as guidance to teachers.

Does my programme need to be regulated?

In many cases, developing an Ofqual-regulated qualification is the option which best meets the needs of all stakeholders.

However, there will be occasions when it makes more sense to develop a CFI Quality Mark programme.

This could be because:

  • the learners are already educated to a level where a regulated qualification wouldn’t benefit them and are looking instead to further their professional development.

  • the course sits within an industry that doesn’t require a regulated qualification.

  • the training provider prefers the additional flexibility that a Quality Mark programme offers them in terms of shaping their course just the way they want.

A Crossfields Institute Quality Mark means that a programme and centre is endorsed by Crossfields Institute. We will develop the Quality Mark with an approved centre and then monitor and review its delivery to learners. A Quality Mark can be quite flexible with regards to process and structure and is built around the specific needs of the provider. Nevertheless, our quality assurance team will work closely with the centre to ensure that standards are upheld and learners are at the centre of all assessment and administrative processes.

Quality Mark certificates bear the training provider’s logo and the CFI logo. As with the process for the delivery of regulated qualifications, a prospective centre must go through the Centre Approval process, in which we ensure that the centre has the correct staff, systems and processes in place to deliver this training (our existing centres would not need to repeat this process if interested in developing a Quality Mark programme). This is reviewed at least annually with an external quality assurer to ensure all our centres are delivering programmes to an CFI-approved standard.

Why develop a qualification?

Qualifications are important because they confirm to a learner, a future employer, a member of the public or whoever sees the certificate that this person has successfully studied and achieved something at a particular level.

Usually the certificate has a front sheet with the name of the qualification and a transcript, which describes in detail that modules that have been covered, the level of study and length of time it took to complete.

This is important because it allows (for example) a future employer to know what you are capable of. The transcript also shows exactly what a student knows about a subject and how to carry out particular tasks or processes. This is particularly important in some areas, for example, health and social care.

The real point of an awarding organisation is that an independent organisation, separate from a learner’s college or workplace, is confirming through a rigorous process what the learner has achieved.

This is very different from when a college, employer or training provider issues its own certificates. With an awarding organisation the level of independence and the “outside in” perspective gives a strong measure and assurance of the quality of the learning.

If you’d like to explore the qualification process further, or have an idea you’d like to discuss with us, please get in touch:

About Crossfields Institute

Crossfields Institute is an educational charity specialising in holistic and integrative education and research. The Institute develops specialist qualifications which aim to support the development of autonomous students with the intellectual rigour, practical skills, social responsibility and ability to think creatively and act decisively.

Crossfields Institute
Stroud House | Russell Street | Stroud GL5 3AN | United Kingdom
T: +44 (0) 1453 808118
Company no: 06503063 | Charity no: 1124859

IQA Q & A

Internal Quality Assurance – Questions & Answers

As the Level 4 Award in Internal Quality Assurance enters its second year since launch, we wanted to dive a little deeper into the topic of IQA, for those who are interested in learning more about the area in general and how our qualification prepares participants to undertake high-quality quality assurance within their organisation.

Below, we explain what IQA is, why it matters to an organisation and how our course works.

To get more information on the qualification or register on the course, please contact course providers Kato Education via: hello@katoeducation.com

What is ‘IQA’?

Internal Quality Assurance. It is a process that seeks to ensure that assessments are undertaken using a consistent and fair approach across one or several assessors.  It monitors the teaching, learning and assessment systems and processes of a programme of learning as well as the evidence produced by the learners. This ensures that the requirements of the awarding organisation and the qualification have been fully met and helps to keep the centre in a continuous improvement cycle.

Why is IQA important?

Internal Quality Assurance helps a centre to identify areas of good and not-so-good practice. When used as a continuous process throughout the year, a well-planned IQA strategy can efficiently and effectively scrutinise every aspect of a programme to allow for continuous improvement of the process and the assessment practice of the assessor.

What can effective IQA do for an organisation?

Effective IQA will support the whole assessment process from all aspects of teaching and learning through to assessment of the learner.  Areas of good practice will be identified, shared and built upon whilst any areas of poor practice can be addressed through working with individuals who need professional development to improve their teaching and assessment skills.  Ultimately effective IQA will ensure that a centre is meeting all relevant requirements whilst also giving the learners a positive teaching, learning and assessment experience.

What makes the IQA course delivered by CFI unique?

The CFI course is unique because it allows the trainee IQA to focus on their own organisation’s programme(s) of learning and to generate naturally-occurring IQA evidence that they will be required to undertake by their awarding organisation as part of being an approved centre.  

This means that the evidence requirements are possible to meet (unlike other similar IQA qualifications).  Another unique point is that the course starts with the trainee IQA demonstrating that they understand the assessment requirements of the qualifications they will be quality assuring before moving on to the knowledge they are required to have around IQA systems and processes.  It then moves on to a more practical element, where by doing their job, the trainee IQA will be generating appropriate evidence.

What kinds of organisations have taken the IQA course?

Organisations that have a programme of learning with learning outcomes and/or assessment criteria.  These organisations have had a mixture of regulated (RQF), self regulated (SRQ) and quality mark (QM) programmes.  The types of organisations have ranged from schools and training organisations to employers who train their own staff.

What is important for people to know about IQA?

Knowing about IQA is the first step to being able to implement IQA.  Without it, a centre is not likely to be meeting the requirements of the awarding organisation and therefore the qualification.  They will also less likely to be in a position to ensure consistency and fairness in the teaching, learning and assessment of the learners within their centre.  They certainly will not be demonstrating best practice.

How can people sign up to the next course?

They can contact the course providers, Kato Education, via hello@katoeducation.com, to express an interest in signing up or ask for more information about the qualification.

Innovation runs in the family

Today, the Guardian is celebrating Joseph Bazalgette’s amazing innovation that was the London sewers. This piece of innovation saved the great capital from complete disaster and unavoidable risk to the health of all those who lived there. Here at Crossfields Institute we are celebrating the involvement of two direct descendants, John Bazalgette, Honorary Fellow of the Grubb School of Organisational Analysis and our Senior Advisor for Social Innovation and Simon Bazalgette, CEO of the Jockey Club, active member of Crossfields International and contributor to our Organisational Analysis and Leadership pathway. Innovation runs in this family!

Map of the London sewerage system from 1882. From https://en.wikipedia.org
Map of the London sewerage system from 1882. From https://en.wikipedia.org