Qualification verification process
The qualification verifier will ensure national consistency in assessment decisions. SQA appoints experienced practitioners to carry out qualification verification in centres. These practitioners have good, recent experience of delivering and assessing their qualification.
Qualification verification is the process we use to confirm that SQA centres are assessing their candidates in line with national standards. It is performed by a team of SQA personnel who are appointed on an annual basis.
Qualification verification focuses on:
- ensuring the validity of assessment instruments
- verifying the reliability of assessment decisions
- verifying that assessment instruments are being used correctly and in line with any assessment specification
- ensuring that the appropriate resources are in place to support the delivery of the qualification
SQA gathers intelligence on centres which allow us to determine the frequency of qualification verification visits to your centre. Intelligence can come from a variety of sources and several factors will impact on the number of qualification verification visits your centre will receive in one year, for example:
- the number and variety of qualifications you are delivering
- specific rules for SVQs, stipulated by the accreditation body
- monitoring of qualification verification reports
- findings from previous systems verification visits
- our risk assessment procedures
Planning a qualification verification visit
Visits will always be arranged in advance with your SQA co-ordinator and you should never find a qualification verifier arrives unannounced. The qualification verifier will compile a visit plan for your centre and advise on all necessary documentation that you will be expected to have available on the day of the visit. They will also ask you for the location of all assessment sites used by your centre. When the proposed date and time for the visit has been agreed, the qualification verifier will send you confirmation and a copy of the visit plan.
One of the qualification verifier’s main tasks is to check that all assessors of a Unit are assessing to the same standard. The qualification verifier will ask to sample assessed evidence and decisions of different candidates and will consider the effectiveness of the system for internal verification within the centre. The qualification verifier will also ask to see standards (for SVQs), assessment instruments, and evidence of assessment for the Units being verified. Checklists and records of meetings of assessors, and internal verifier reports will also be reviewed. Visits are also likely to involve interviews with assessors, internal verifiers and candidates.
What happens during a qualification verification visit
Your centre will be assessed against the qualification verification criteria.
The qualification verifier will need to see evidence of implementation and of adherence to documented systems, policies and procedures in line with the qualification verification criteria.
Decisions and outcome of qualification verification visits
The findings of the quality assurance visit will allocate an outcome rating of Significant strengths, Strengths outweigh weaknesses, Some strengths and some weaknesses, Weaknesses outweigh strengths or Significant weaknesses to Resources, Candidate Support, Internal Assessment and Verification and Records/Data Management categories within the quality assurance criteria. This will result in an overall outcome rating for the centre. For more information on this, please refer to Outcome Ratings and Sanctions.
SQA has developed a series of sanctions that will be invoked when approved centres whose management and quality assurance systems do not fully comply with the quality assurance criteria.
Based on the requirements detailed in the quality assurance criteria, the sanctions are designed to ensure:
- consistency of decisions across all centres
- an incentive for change and continuous improvement
- confidence in the integrity of SQA’s candidate certification
There are five levels of sanctions that can be imposed, depending on your overall outcome rating. For information on sanctions, please refer to Outcome Ratings and Sanctions.
What happens next?
At the end of the visit, the verifier will give a verbal report on the findings of the visit.
A completed qualification verification report will be sent to the SQA co-ordinator after the visit. If the findings of the visit confirm that your centre has successfully shown compliance with the quality assurance criteria, we may reduce how often we monitor your centre.
If we identify non-compliance with the quality assurance criteria during the visit, we will apply appropriate sanctions in relation to the risk identified. The level of the sanctions will depend on the impact on candidates and the credibility of SQA qualifications.
We have a range of methods to help you get back on track if our quality assurance activities identify problems in your centre. If issues arise, we will work with you to resolve them, and to ensure that candidates are not disadvantaged.
If you cannot carry out the required action in the agreed timescale, sanctions will be reviewed and your outcome rating may be increased.
You have the right to appeal against a decision that you consider inappropriate. Please refer to the section on Appeals.