Clackmannanshire Council is training some of their early learning and childcare (ELC) staff as SVQ assessors to support new trainees. Kirsteen Carmichael, Education Support Officer (Early Years), tells us why it’s bringing benefits all round.
Why did you decide to train your own ELC staff as assessors?
We take on trainees every year who work towards the SVQ Social Services (Children and Young People) at SCQF level 7. We could’ve brought in people to assess their SVQ but we wanted to give our own staff the opportunity to gain their assessor award as part of professionalism of the workforce. We also made links with City of Edinburgh Council who currently offer this model.
How did you go about this?
We decided to train four assessors this year, staff had to apply and take part in an interview, as we wanted them to think hard about what they were doing. We had a very good response and have a variety of different staff doing it, an assistant education support officer, a deputy head, an early years practitioner and a senior early years practitioner. All ELC staff had the opportunity to apply.
They are going through their training just now and we are all learning together, the trainees and assessors, supported by Clackmannanshire Works, our registered SVQ provider.
The assessors have had their induction and are now carrying out observation visits where the training provider accompanies them to observe them; they are all taking to it very well.
We have eight trainees so each assessor has two, one in 2-5 provision and one in 3-5 provision to give them a range. They work as peripatetic assessors and have to commit half a day a week. That might not be every week; they might do one full day a fortnight as we need to make sure we can backfill for them in their own centre when they’re out.
What difference has it made to staff acting as assessors?
It is giving them opportunities. The assessor award is a commitment to trainees, there will always be opportunities at the council to use it and there will be opportunities elsewhere as well.
It has given the early years practitioner in particular a big boost as she’s not in a promoted post and is delighted to be doing this. She had experience of assessing in a previous job and is doing this rather than her BA Childhood Practice this year.
What difference does it make for the trainees?
Because the assessors are experts in their field, current and up to date, the support they can give the trainees is more current than someone who might have been out of the workforce for a while.
They have their own examples of practice they can bring with them on visits and can bring trainees into their own centres too. These are highly qualified staff. We bring them in to talk at our Early Years Academy so other staff can hear from them too. Our Early Years Academy is where we meet weekly with our trainees to help provide the underpinning knowledge for their qualification.
How is this supporting ELC staff in their practice and their careers?
It’s given our core staff something different to be involved in.
The assessors are supporting each other and have set up their own support network that meets every three weeks which they use to moderate evidence from trainees. The trainees have also formed a really good support network.
We have good people that are current, they have got experience they can bring, so if trainees have any queries or concerns assessors have probably been doing it themselves recently.
What are your future plans for this work?
As part of preparing for the increased hours entitlement in 2020 we want to bring in 10 trainees a year for three years and not just young people on Modern Apprenticeships but career changers too. The trainees are with us for two years and we will put them through the SVQ.
We already have two early years practitioners identified to train as assessors next year who will backfill for current assessors who will be stepping up to become internal verifiers.
We’re looking forward to continuing to see the professionalism of our entire ELC workforce grow as a result of this approach.