Friday, 18 March 2011

Busy, busy, busy ... again!

I was so busy yesterday that I did not have to write even a short blog entry. This was due to the need to prepare for the NSS. Sounds ominous, doesn't it?

The NSS is the National Standards Sampling, and it happens every year for vocational courses in the UK. Basically, it is the means by which the awarding body – BTEC (the Business and Technical Education Council) – is able to show that the students are getting both the right level of work set, and that it is being assessed correctly. The process by which this is done is currently changing, and because the courses I teach are sampled using the older method rather than the newer one, we seem to have been asked to do even more work than usual for the NSS. They process works like this:
  • I write a Unit assignment that matches the assessment criteria laid down by the awarding body.
  • This is then checked by a colleague (the internal verifier), and any changes that need to be made are made.
  • The assignment is then given to the students, who do the work.
  • I then mark the work according to the assessment criteria.
  • A colleague then marks a sample of the students’ work (usually the work of four students whose results cover the spread of possible grades), and if they think that I have graded it incorrectly or that the students have not quite met the criteria, changes have to be made or additional work done.
  • Once the grades have been agreed, the Unit assignment and the checked work is sent to an external verifier, who checks that everything meets the requirements of the awarding body. If it does, our grades are ‘signed off’ by the awarding body.
The problem is that this all takes a lot of time, and that is one thing that always seems to be in short supply.

I have to make sure that all my work samples are ready for the internal verifier by Wednesday of next week at the latest … and then I will act as the internal verifier for one of my colleagues. Once we have both done our ‘bit’, all the paperwork has to be sent off to the external verifier by the end of March. I am going to have a very busy weekend, as besides doing all the work that I can for the NSS, I also have to visit my father and deliver a tumble-dryer to my father-in-law.

I will be lucky if I get time to breath, let alone blog over the next few days … but if the opportunity arises, I will take it!

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