Our awarding organisation (AO) Training Qualifications UK (TQUK) have recently moved up the rankings to be confirmed by Ofqual (The Office for Qualification and Examinations Regulations) as the NINTH largest awarding organisation in the UK.
We have worked with TQUK to offer their regulated qualifications since our conception, over three years ago. We have found TQUK’s support and customer service to be second to none. They are always available to offer us advice and guidance when needed and to ensure we maintain the high standards of the qualifications we offer to our learners.
This got us thinking – What is the role of an Awarding Organisation and what is Centre Approval?
Qualifications in the UK are designed and awarded by AOs. An AO, often in collaboration with industry experts and employers, create the units, learning outcomes and assessment criteria that learners must meet in order to successfully achieve a qualification.
In order for an education provider to offer regulated qualifications, they must become an ‘Approved Centre’ of an awarding organisation. Approved centres may be a school, college, training provider (like Educating UK) or a sole trainer.
Gaining Approved Centre Status from an AO confirms that a provider has met the set standards of that AO. These standards include:
- Having qualified and competent tutors and assessors
- Having appropriate resources to deliver and assess qualifications
- Having robust Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) practices and procedures in place.
An approved centre must also have in place a range of policies and procedures to protect learners and ensure all staff are maintaining the requirements of qualifications. The policies an approved centre must have include and are not limited to:
- Health and Safety Policy
- Data Protection Policy
- Safeguarding Policy
- Complaints Policy
- Maladministration and Malpractice Policy
- Internal Quality Assurance Policy
- Equality and Diversity Policy
When a centre gains centre approval from an AO, they are agreeing to adhere to the AO’s terms, conditions, requirements and regulations for delivering, assessing and internally quality assuring their qualifications. The centre is also agreeing to allow the awarding organisation to externally quality assure their procedures, policies, delivery and assessment judgments – everything related to a qualification.
An awarding organisation will assure the above through the use of External Quality Assurers (EQAs). EQAs undertake external quality assurance activities within an approved centre, on behalf of an AO. EQA activities can be remote based, where an EQA works from home or the AO premises, to review the work of an approved centre. EQAs can also undertake a visit to an approved centre.
During EQA activities, an EQA will make judgements on how well the assessments and quality assurance activities are undertaken within an approved centre. The EQA will produce a report of their findings for the AO.
EQA activities take place on a regular basis. If, during EQA activities, an EQA identifies an issue or problem at an approved centre, an AO can impose sanctions. Sanctions can include:
- More regular EQA activities
- EQAs checking all assessments judgements made in a centre, before a certificate is issued by the AO
- A centre being prevented from registering learners with the AO
- The AO withdrawing a centre’s ‘approved centre’ status.
An approved centre must allow an EQA to visit them when a request has been made. EQA visits are usually planned in advance between the centre and AO.
If the EQA is happy with the findings of their external quality assurance activities, they can award an approved centre ‘Direct Claims Status’ (DCS). DCS is a reward system where an approved centre is able to claim learner certificates without an EQA having to check learner evidence, assessment judgements or IQA activities. As soon as an approved centre claims a certificate, the certificate will be printed and issued to the centre. DCS is only given to approved centres who have proven (during EQA activities) that they have suitable staff and a robust and effective system of internal quality assurance.
The role of an EQA and AO is to offer an approved centre support, advice, guidance and feedback on how they are assessing and internally quality assuring their qualifications. When an AO are satisfied an approved centre has met the set standards for their qualifications, they will issue learner certificates.
Educating UK have Diamond Approval Centre Status with TQUK. The highest centre approval TQUK offer.
Educating UK offer a range of qualifications. More information can be found at www.educatinguk.com