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Retail Nvq Skills Scan - PDF

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					Chief Verifier Report Retail Sector September 2009

                                                             Chief Verifier Report
                                                                Retail NVQs Levels 1 - 3

                                                                               2008 to 2009

                                                                          United Kingdom

                                                                   By Mary F Mulholland
September 2009

1. The qualifications and standards
    Structure and content

         1. Good practice seen in centres during the year and identified by the external
              verification team includes:
              • a continued holistic approach to assessment
              • increased use of digital tape recording of witness testimonies
              • increased use of digital tape recording oral questions and answers
              • introduction of video recording especially in Visual Merchandising NVQ
              • good use of professional discussion particularly for level 3
              • provision of resources e.g. recorders (MP3, digital, video, Skype)
              • collaboration with retailers to develop workplacements opportunities
              • collaboration with shopping malls to contribute products for use in training
              • setting up shop window in training facility for use in Visual Merchandising NVQ
              • setting up retail stores in college or shoping centres to provide real work
              • sign posting evidence to the workplace to improve progression
              • use of environmental portfolios / eNVQ packages
              • improved recording of standardisation activity

         2. There have been no major changes to the Retail NVQs to affect centres during the
            2008/2009 academic year. Analysis of 220 visit reports relating to 112 active
            centres shows guidance given includes:
            • the development by centres of holistic approaches to assessment
            • defining retail environments as the changing face of retail has lead some
                centres in to incorrect definitions, following this OCR sought advice from
                Skillsmart Retail and an up-to-date definition has been disseminated
            • interpretation of OCRs assessment guidance
            • approval of centres own tracking (ERS) grids
            • identifying opportunities available for occupational updating for CPD
            • advising on the use of Expert Witness and the recording of their competence
            • guidance on the use of digital recording systems and e-portfolios, where
                appropriate to the needs of the candidate
            • encouraging the use of Interchange for registration and certification
            • providing information on OCR events and network meetings
            • offering guidance on suitability of environments for achieving a retail NVQ

Chief Verifier Report Retail Sector September 2009

              •     requesting additional visits to support centres with large numbers on
              •     referring queries from centres to the Chief Verifier, the Qualification Manager
                    and Skillsmart Retail
              •     offering availability between visits to answer queries, for example, to confirm
                    occupational competence for new staff and interpretation of the standards

The following table outlines the findings of the external verification team in relation to six key
areas, Assessment Team, Resources, Candidate Support, Assessment and Verification,
Management Systems and Records and Assessment Summary.

Assessment Team:               Findings:
                               External Verifiers (EVs) have met centre teams to confirm
                               they are occupationally competent, qualified and sufficient in
                               number to deliver the schemes offered by the centre. Target
                               dates have been set for unqualified centre team members to
                               achieve A1 or V1 within ENTO requirements.

                               A common theme for action was the original D/A/V certificates
                               not being available in the centre to enable EVs to
                               authenticate team members’ qualifications. This was
                               particularly prevalent when new members of staff joined a
                               centre. It was also noted that on occasion new members of
                               the assessment team were not available to meet with the EV
                               in order to confirm occupational competence. This was
                               despite EVs making it clear in their pre-visit documentation
                               that the new team members were required at the visit.
Resources:                     Findings:
                               Resources specific to the retail NVQs have been varied and
                               include training programmes to develop knowledge and
                               understanding; workbooks to assist with knowledge and
                               understanding; recognised qualifications in Health & Safety,
                               Food Hygiene, etc and audio and digital recording equipment.
                               In-house and external training packages have been quality
                               assured by OCR to ensure they meet national standards and
                               are used by a small number of centres as the main source of
                               evidence for the NVQ.

                               Resources specific to assessors and verifiers have included
                               electronic equipment (laptops, mobiles, MP3 players) and, in
                               a few centres with geographically spread teams, the
                               introduction of Skype for Internal Verifier feedback to
                               assessors and the recording of standardisation and interviews
                               of candidates. Digital voice recorders have also been used
                               for candidate interviews.

                               Centres have demonstrated improved links with retailers to
                               collaborate on the development of training facilities and
                               resources. In particular the building of a shop window in a
                               training centre within a national shopping mall.

                               Compliance with Health & Safety legislation has mainly been
                               through use of specialist personnel and risk assessment of
                               the workplaces. LSC funding requirements demand

Chief Verifier Report Retail Sector September 2009

                               compliance with Health & Safety.

                               One of the main areas for development in centres is to ensure
                               that CPD updating is fully and consistently recorded; and to
                               formalise staff development plans for their teams.

Candidate Support:             Findings:
                                  The quality of the induction process has improved to
                                  ensure that candidates have all relevant information about
                                  the qualification. All centres are using an Initial
                                  assessment / Skills Scan process to ensure candidates
                                  are on the correct qualification at the correct level and to
                                  assist in identifying appropriate optional units.

                                   Appeals procedures have been documented and
                                   interviews with candidates confirmed their understanding
                                   of the procedure. Many centres revisit the Appeals
                                   procedure when giving feedback to candidates, at review
                                   or through the Internal Verifier interviews.

                                   Assessment planning and review has consistently shown
                                   an holistic approach to assessment. The methods of
                                   assessment have met the needs of the candidate and the
                                   OCR Assessment Guidance. The main method of
                                   assessment has been observation, questioning, product
                                   evidence and professional discussion.

                                   Increasingly assessors and internal verifiers are using
                                   alternative approaches to assessment i.e. digital
                                   recordings, video recordings, e-portfolios, this innovation
                                   is to be commended.

                                   Centres have demonstrated an understanding of the need
                                   for the involvement of the line manager in assessment
                                   decisions, as required in the Assessment Strategy set
                                   down by the Sector Skills Council, Skillsmart Retail. On
                                   occasion when a candidate does not have a line manager
                                   (i.e. owner/manager), centres have sought the advice of
                                   the External Verifier which has ensured an appropriate
                                   approach to assessment.

                                   Unit certification is made available to candidates by
                                   centres, but in general, due to the criteria set for funding,
                                   centres have a tendency to wait for full awards to be

Assessment and                 Findings:
Verification:                     Improvements continue to be made in approaches to
                                  Internal Verification which, in general, meet the
                                  requirements of the NVQ Code of Practice.

                                   During the academic year 2008/2009 this was the
                                   common theme relating to sanctions under the NVQ Code
                                   of Practice. In total, two centres received a sanction 3b;
                                   one centre received a sanction 2 and eight received a

Chief Verifier Report Retail Sector September 2009

                                   sanction 1. Each of these had significant shortfalls in
                                   Internal Verification, in particular in supplying relevant
                                   information to the External Verifier within timescales set in
                                   OCR letters or in a format that was accessible to the EV.
                                   The effect of these shortfalls leads to candidates being
                                   disadvantaged and a loss of integrity of the NVQ process.

                                   The circulation, within centres, of EV reports and feedback
                                   has been commented on as good practice. Centres have
                                   used intranets to circulate EV reports; some centres have
                                   used the report as an agenda item at team meetings.

                                   The External Verifier report is sent automatically, by OCR,
                                   to named senior personnel within centres. In a few
                                   centres, predominantly colleges, this has caused delays in
                                   circulation to the teams who need to respond to actions
                                   raised by the External Verifier. A further issue has been
                                   ICT specific where the centre server reads the e-report as
                                   SPAM and does not accept it. This is an internal issue
                                   that centres need to address; however, OCR will send a
                                   hard copy of the report if requested by the centre.

Management                     Findings:
Systems and                       The common theme related to communication with OCR
Records:                          when changes were made to the assessment team within
                                  the centre. The importance of this communication has
                                  been re-asserted by EV team; this is of particular concern
                                  when the centre has DCS status which is awarded
                                  following successful visits and is based on a particular
                                  confirmed assessment team. The integrity of DCS is lost
                                  if a member of the confirmed assessment team has left
                                  the centre and will be suspended immediately by OCR.

                                   Evaluation of provision, policies and procedures has been
                                   positively commented on by EVs. Centres are ensuring
                                   three way feedback – centre, candidate and line manager.
                                   This is considered good practice by LSC and OFSTED.

                                   A re-occurring recommendation has been a request for
                                   EVs to meet team members or candidates or to observe
                                   an assessment at the next visit. This is not necessarily a
                                   reflection on the centre as EVs frequently use
                                   recommendations of this nature as an aide memoir to
                                   ensure they meet OCR’s sampling requirements.

Assessment                     Findings:
                                   Analysis of reports confirms that centres have made
                                   portfolios available from all stages of assessment to
                                   facilitate the EV meeting in OCR sampling requirements.

                                   In general, the total numbers of candidates registered has
                                   matched the total number of candidates in the centre
                                   undertaking the qualification. Any delays in registering
                                   candidates have been where centres want to ensure

Chief Verifier Report Retail Sector September 2009

                                   candidates are committed to the NVQ. Centres may face
                                   issues with centres inspection grades and future funding if
                                   candidates starts an NVQ and then leaves without

2. Sector Developments
         Retailers are operating in extremely challenging and difficult times with the ongoing
         effects of the recession, these challenges are felt by retailers irrespective of size or
         sub-sector. This has lead to a reduction in retail outlets and ultimately to staff
         redundancies. Retailers are focusing resources on meeting sales targets, achieving
         margins and maintaining like for like sales rather than training and development. The
         retail outlet, whether based on the high street or internet based, is still the main means
         of getting products from manufacturer to the customer. Retailers need qualifications
         that will enable their staff to develop the very best customer focused skills. With so
         much competition for an ever decreasing spend, retailers need to differentiate their
         offer through niche markets and improved customer service. To do this, their staff
         need to be fully equipped with a variety of skills and knowledge.

         In response to market intelligence, the Sector Skills Council for the Retail sector,
         Skillsmart Retail, along with partner awarding bodies, reviewed the content of the NVQ
         qualifications and designed bite sized units for delivery on the Qualifications and Credit
         Framework. Each unit carries a level and credit value. The bite size units combine in a
         logical and flexible way to enable learners to achieve recognition of the knowledge,
         skills and competencies they develop when undertaking employment within the retail
         sector. The new qualifications were available on the Qualifications and Credit
         Framework from 1 September 2009.

         The Sector Skills Council, Skillsmart Retail, is proactive in working with retailers and
         awarding bodies to raise the profile of retail as a first choice in career pathways, and
         has developed excellent working links with many diverse organisations. Skillsmart
         Retail is promoting the qualifications and sector through sponsorship of retail events
         such as Retail Solutions and by collaborating on articles with retail publications
         including Retail Week.

         Funding issues for newly developed qualifications continue to cause anxiety in centres.
         Previously Train-To-Gain funding has been a driver in the uptake of retail qualifications,
         however an overspend by LSC has resulted in a suspension of funding until April 2010.

         There are some difficult times ahead for the retail sector, but with the support of
         awarding bodies and the development of exciting new qualifications, it is a time to look
         forward positively.


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