Trailblazers Jargon Buster

Our trailblazers jargon buster will help you to understand some of the key terms used in the education sector and in assessment.


Awarding Organisations - An organisation or consortium which awards qualifications. Awarding organisations must meet the requirements of regulatory bodies.


An apprenticeship is a job that requires substantial and sustained training, leading to the achievement of an apprenticeship standard and the development of transferable skills.


Assessment is the process of evaluating an individual’s attainment of knowledge, understanding and skills. It has many uses but these can be divided into two major categories: uses for individual candidates, and uses for external organisations.

Assessment Plan/Approach

Trailblazers will be responsible for setting out their high level approach to the end-point assessment. This will be a document that outlines what should be assessed, how it should be assessed and who should assess.


The designated person who is responsible for judging and recording the apprentice’s evidence.

Audio/video recording

Audio and video can be used in place of more conventional written assignments or presentations. They also allow for the assessment of specific skills that are not easily captured by other means, such as presentation and interview skills.


SQA Approved Centres are organisations which have been approved to offer SQA qualifications.


The process of providing certificates for achieved qualifications.


The possession of skills, and knowledge which meet predetermined standards.


Continuing Professional Development - Term used to describe the professional development of staff.

Diagnostic assessment

An assessment can be used to discover a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, to identify a learning programme for them, or to assign them to a specific group. For example, if you enrolled to learn a foreign language in an evening class, you could be asked to complete an online test to establish your proficiency to allow the centre to allocate you to the right class — beginners, intermediate or advanced. This use of assessment is called ‘diagnostic’, and aids individual progress by identifying an appropriate learning path.


Equality and Diversity - A term used to define and champion equality, diversity and human rights as defining values of society.


English & Maths

In apprenticeships, apprentices who have not yet achieved level 2 English and Maths must, as a minimum:


The use of electronic media in the assessment process.


Electronic learning – learning which is supported or enhanced through the application of information and communication technology.

Employer Occupational Brief

Employer Occupational Briefs are being developed by some Trailblazers to inform awarding organisations of the required elements of knowledge and skills within qualifications within apprenticeship standards, and to provide a clear basis for the development of the assessment of the apprenticeship.

End-point assessment

All new apprentices will be required to demonstrate their competence across the whole standard. The end-point assessment will be assessing skills and knowledge in an integrated way. In most cases it will also be graded.


An electronic portfolio that allows candidates to store digital artefacts and streamlines the process of review and verification for candidates, assessors and verifiers.

External assessment

An assessment set and/or marked by Examiners who are not associated with the organisation providing the candidate’s learning.

External verification

The process of ensuring that national standards are being maintained consistently across all centres.

External Verifier

Person appointed by an awarding organisation who is responsible for the quality assurance of a centre's provision and for ensuring that standards of assessment are applied uniformly and consistently across centres. An external verifier is often appointed on a subject area basis or for a verification group of Units.


Further Education - Provides education, training and lifelong learning, at all levels, for young people and adults.

Formative Assessment

Assessment that provides developmental feedback to a candidate so that they can adjust their plan for future learning. It is not recorded for external purposes. Formative assessment is often called ‘Assessment for learning’.

Grading/Graded Assessments

Apprentices completing their training in England will be graded as either pass, merit or distinction. A pass grade in an apprenticeship will demonstrate full competence against the standard that has been set. The grade will be applied to the whole apprenticeship, or as a minimum, to the end assessment.

Some exceptions to this may be possible if the Trailblazer can submit evidence against the criteria outlined in the ‘Guidance for Trailblazers’.


Group Training Association - A type of training provider.


Higher Education - Qualifications at level 4 or above such as Foundation, Bachelor and Masters degrees and NVQ 4 and above.

High Level Assessment Approach

This is a short document that describes how employers think an individual should be tested at the end of their apprenticeship, to demonstrate they are fully competent in the occupation. An apprentice must be able to demonstrate the knowledge and skills specified by employers in the standard to achieve their apprenticeship. The Trailblazers will be asked to set out their high level approach to end-point assessment as an annex to the standard.

Holistic Assessment

An assessment process which integrates key subject knowledge and/or applied skills within a larger process or activity.


Information, Advice and Guidance - Term used to describe advice given to people about education, training and employment opportunities.

Internal quality assurance

The process of ensuring that the provision at centre and subject level conforms to the approved procedures and that consistency is being achieved within the centre.

Internal verification

The process of ensuring that standards of assessment for qualifications are applied uniformly and consistently within a centre.

Internal verifier

A staff member appointed by the centre who ensures that assessors apply standards of assessment uniformly and consistently.


Apprenticeships will be assigned a level which will be either Intermediate (level 2), Advanced (level 3) or Higher (levels 4 and above). Guidance on levels can be found in Annex E of the Regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework – please note that level descriptors are being reviewed.

Method of assessment

A means of generating evidence of a candidate’s knowledge and/or skills.

Multiple choice

Multiple choice questions or items consist of an incomplete statement or a question, known as the ‘stem’, followed by at least four plausible alternative responses from which the candidate has to select the correct one. The correct response is known as the ‘key’, while the incorrect ones are referred to as ‘distractors’. Multiple choice questions are often called ‘objective tests’.


National Vocational Qualification - An NVQ is a work-based qualification which recognises the skills and knowledge a person needs to do a job.

National Occupational Standards

National Occupational Standards are statements of performance that individuals must satisfy when carrying out functions in the workplace, together with specifications of the underpinning knowledge and understanding. They are drawn up by Sector Skills Councils.

Observed assessment

This is where an assessor observes the apprentice as they carry out tasks. Observation often takes place in the workplace, or the conditions of the workplace, but it can also be carried out any other place where the candidate is undertaking practical activities.

On-demand assessments

Assessments where there is a high degree of flexibility in the date and time so that tests can be offered to suit the learner or their learning programme.

Online assessment

An on-screen assessment that relies on an internet connection during the test to download subsequent questions and upload candidate responses.

Pass mark

The minimum score in a graded assessment required to achieve the lowest ‘pass’ grade in the range. May also be used in a minimum competence test for the minimum score for which a pass award will be given.

Portfolio of evidence

A portfolio is a means of presenting evidence of a candidate’s achievement. It is a representative collection of different pieces of evidence of the candidate’s skills, knowledge and understanding which indicates that they have met the requirements of a qualification.

Professional dialogue

A professional discussion between a candidate and an assessor that focuses on evidence already provided or demonstrated by the candidate. This is likely to consist of real work activities, practical tasks, a case study, project, portfolio or some other form of assessment.

Professional registration

Professional registration is recognition, through membership of a relevant professional institution, that an individual’s competence has been assessed, and they have attained the standard required for admission to the national register at the appropriate level.


A project is a task that usually requires a research or investigative approach. A significant part of the work is carried out without close supervision, although guidance and support may be provided by the assessor. The choice of project may be directed by the assessor, usually by providing the candidate with a topic or brief as a basis.


Qualifications and Credit Framework.

The QCF is a credit transfer system that recognises qualifications and units by awarding credits.

Every unit and qualification in the QCF has a credit value that tells you how long it takes to complete – one credit represents 10 hours’ work.

Each unit and qualification has its own level, between Entry level and level 8. The level indicates the challenge or complexity of the qualification with level 3 being equivalent to ‘A’ levels and level 8 being equivalent to PhD.

Quality Assurance System

Any system at local, regional and national level that promotes confidence in a qualification by guaranteeing the maintenance of standards.


Skills Funding Agency - The SFA distributes government money to learning providers for all provision for people aged 19+.

Relationship Manager

A Relationship Manager is a single point of contact within BIS for a Trailblazer Group and is responsible for answering queries and providing feedback on draft standards.


In assessment, reliability is the extent to which a test’s results are repeatable and fair from one candidate to the next, and from one occasion to the next (for example with a different set of candidates), ie a measure of the accuracy of the score achieved, with respect to the likelihood that the score would be constant if the test were re-taken or the same performance were re-scored by another marker, or if another test from a test bank of ostensibly equivalent items is used.


An abbreviated case study or history which can be used as part of an assessment. Also a group or cluster of items in a test, usually presented to a candidate sequentially or as a group, which share some common element or purpose in the test (eg stem or source material) and cannot easily be separated into individual items.


Any structured assessment exercise involving the organisation and achievement of a specific task which seeks to reproduce real life situations.

Simulations are used where assessment is difficult to carry out (eg for safety reasons).


Sector Skills Councils - Government-sponsored industry councils made up of trade bodies, employers and specialists.


Trailblazers are tasked with writing standards that are approximately two pages, and these clearly state the skills and knowledge requirements, and in some standards the behaviours, that define full competence in an occupation.


Standardisation is the processes of checking, adjusting and ensuring that assessment processes and criteria (including both the administration of the assessment itself, and its marking) are applied consistently by assessors, examiners and verifiers. Standardisation can be carried out within centres as well as by awarding bodies.

Summative assessment

Summative assessment is generally undertaken at the end of a learning activity or programme of learning, and is used to make a judgement on the candidate’s overall attainment. A key purpose of summative assessment is to record, and often grade, the candidate’s performance in relation to the stated learning objectives of the programme.

Summative assessment is used for awarding formal qualifications when individual learning is assessed against a particular specification or standard. All SQA assessment is summative, whether it is carried out by the centre or administered externally by SQA, because it assesses performance against national standards.

Summative assessment may take place at different points of the learning process, but the candidates must have been informed that their assessment results will be recorded and quality assured.


Validity is the degree to which an assessment tests the abilities that it is supposed to test — the appropriateness of the interpretation and use of the results for any assessment instrument. (For example a driving test where a candidate is observed driving is highly valid. A test where a candidate describes how they would drive is less valid.) There are many different measures of validity.


Verification is the process of ensuring that quality assurance systems are being maintained. Verification can be either internal or external.

Viva interview

Interview to assess theoretical or technical knowledge and understanding (professional discussion) or to:


Work Based Learning - Work based learning is learning which predominantly takes place in the workplace. Some learning may take place in a classroom environment but this will be minimal.

Written assignments

These are (online or paper-based) assessment tasks or tests (including multiple choice) to assess theoretical or technical knowledge.