Assessor Awards: A short guide

To become an apprenticeship assessor, as well as normally having occupational experience you may also need to have or be working towards a recognised assessor qualification. The names and types of assessor qualifications held by assessors has changed over the years, with newer ones often replacing older ones. Apprenticeship specifications can also vary in what type of assessor qualification they require, as well as if they are needed at all. Whereas some assessors may find that an assessor qualification is not a prerequisite to assess, others may be required to hold a specific assessor qualification before they can assess for a particular apprenticeship syllabus. In this article, we briefly go over some of the assessor qualifications available as well as the basic facts behind each one.

Previously available assessor qualifications

In the past, the number of routes available to qualify as an assessor was more limited than it is today. The two main assessor qualifications we’ll mention here are the D32/D33 and the A1 assessor awards. The former were composed of two separate units of study, D32 and D33, which when passed together amounted to a qualification in assessment which could be used by assessors to assess for any number of apprenticeship courses. These were eventually phased out in the early 2000s and replaced by the A1 and A2 units, which are commonly known as A1 assessor awards. Whilst it’s unlikely that these two qualifications would be available to study today for new assessors, there are still plenty of assessor qualification routes available. Conversely, these older specifications should still hold validity for assessors who gained these qualifications before the newer ones were introduced, unless instructed otherwise by their EPAO or training provider.

Currently available qualifications

Nowadays the two main assessor qualifications that gain the most attention are the TAQA (Training Assessment and Quality Assurance) and CAVA (Certificate for Assessing Vocational Achievement) assessor qualifications. Most job vacancies for assessors will normally either mention one or the other as a stipulated requirement to assess, but you may be left wondering what they actually entail.

The main difference between both is that TAQA refers to a suite of qualifications whereas CAVA is a distinct qualification that covers all forms of assessment. TAQA is usually made up of three qualifications that relate to training, quality assurance and assessment. These qualifications could cover courses such as the Level 3 Award in Education and Training (AET) for the training aspect of TAQA. The assessment component of TAQA could be covered by completion of the CAVA qualification or a course such as the Level 3 Award in Assessing Vocational Achievement. Finally, the quality assurance aspect of TAQA would normally consist of a qualification such as IQA or Internal Quality Assurance. All of these qualifications are only examples of the three specialist units needed to become a TAQA qualified assessor, whilst TAQA itself does not exist as a stand-alone qualification.

By contrast, CAVA is a separate qualification in its own right and successful completion allows any assessor who gains it to be qualified in all forms of assessment. This undoubtedly makes it the most important assessor qualification available today, as it can be used for assessment activities in any classroom or work-based setting. It can also be used as the assessor qualification component for the TAQA suite. If your goal is to focus purely on assessment rather than training or quality assurance, gaining CAVA should be more than sufficient to quality you as a vocational or apprenticeship assessor. Like with TAQA, CAVA is also comprised of three separate units that need to be completed in order to pass the qualification.

How do I study for an assessor qualification?

Increasing numbers of training providers do offer the qualifications mentioned above, with the exception of discontinued ones such as D32/D33. If you work for a particular training provider, college or end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) such as ORCA EPA, they may also be able to point you in the right direction for where to study for one of these qualifications and may even assist you with funding. Online or distance learning is becoming increasingly common as a way of studying for these qualifications, whilst the course fees and time lengths can vary. It may be possible to study for and gain an assessor award in as little as a few months, or longer depending on your existing work or study commitments. Qualifications such as CAVA can also require assessing for other learners to form part of the training, so you need to make sure that these areas are covered by whomever is providing your training.