Access to HE Diploma Handbook for External Moderators

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Access to HE Diploma
Handbook for
External Moderators
2015/16 – Version 2 (15/12/15)
Contents
Section 1: Introduction and Overview .................................................................................... 4
The Purpose of Moderation ............................................................................................... 4
The Role of the External Moderator ................................................................................... 5
Overview of External Moderation Model ............................................................................ 6
Internal Moderation............................................................................................................ 7
Purpose and Focus of the External Moderation Visits........................................................ 7
Recognising Good Practice ............................................................................................... 8
Identifying Poor Practice .................................................................................................... 8
Responsibilities of the AVA to Access to HE External Moderators ..................................... 9
Section 2: Timetable of Events ........................................................................................... 10
Section 3: The First Visit .................................................................................................... 12
Section 4: The Final (2nd) Moderation Visit ......................................................................... 14
Section 5: Sampling Guidance for External Moderators ..................................................... 16
Section 6: The Awards Board............................................................................................. 17
Section 7: Writing the External Moderation Report ............................................................. 18
Section 8: The Role of the Lead Moderator ........................................................................ 19
Section 9: Supplementary and Support Visits .................................................................... 20
Supplementary Visits ....................................................................................................... 20
Support Visits .................................................................................................................. 20
Section 10: QAA’s Licensing Criteria (relating to Moderation Practice) .............................. 21
Section 11: Summary of External Moderator Roles ............................................................ 29
Section 12: Code of Conduct for External Moderators........................................................ 33
Section 13: Maintaining Records of Continuous Professional Development ....................... 34
Section 14: Monitoring of External Moderator’s Performance ............................................. 36
Certa Access Diploma External Moderators Handbook - 2015/16
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Certa Access Diploma External Moderators Handbook - 2015/16
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Section 1: Introduction and Overview
Certa (formerly Open College Network Yorkshire & Humber) is an Access Validating Agency
(AVA) licensed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), to develop and quality assure
Access to HE Diplomas. The QAA provides an integrated quality assurance service for
Higher Education in the UK and is also responsible for assuring the quality of approved
Access to HE Diplomas through the ‘QAA Recognition Scheme for Access to HE in England,
Wales and Northern Ireland’.
This handbook aims to provide External Moderators with information relating to:
i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
the purpose of moderation,
the roles and responsibilities of the External Moderator,
the procedures to be undertaken, and
the completion of documentation.
This handbook should be read in conjunction with the following documents:


Certa Access to HE Handbook (primarily written for providers)
QAA’s AVA Licensing Criteria for the Licensing and Relicensing of AVAs’ May 2011
(up-dated July 2014)
Certa’s Moderation Protocol

The Access Team can be contacted by email at: [email protected]
The Purpose of Moderation
Precept 5: Moderation, monitoring and certification of the QAA Access to HE Licensing
Criteria relates specifically to the quality assurance and enhancement of Access to HE
courses and academic standards. The quality model operated by Certa is designed to
ensure compliance with the QAA Licensing Criteria and to meet the requirements of the
AVA.
External Moderators
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are key personnel in the quality assurance processes of Certa
provide an important link between the Access to HE provider and Certa
operate with due regard to objectivity, impartiality, fairness and equity
are appointed annually
demonstrate a sufficient degree of independence to be able to moderate the Access
to HE Diploma(s) to which they are appointed.
There will be no conflict of interest. All External Moderators must be external to the provider
and not hold a position in any receiving institution,
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The Role of the External Moderator
It is essential that External Moderators carry out their roles and responsibilities in a
professional manner and to the highest possible standard. All Certa External Moderators
are curriculum specialists and are appointed to appropriate Diplomas.
All Certa Access to HE Diplomas are subject to external moderation. At least one External
Moderator will be appointed to each Access to HE Diploma offered by each provider.
Where additional curriculum expertise is required, additional External Moderators will be
appointed.
The role of the External Moderator will include:

Providing subject expertise

Ensuring the award of the Diploma is secure

Making contact with the provider to plan and undertake: support; supplementary; first
visit and final moderation visits

Attendance at awards boards

Acting as AVA Rep, when required, to represent Certa at awards boards

Ensuring the evidence of achievement is appropriate and sufficient

Verifying the standards of student achievement leading to the award of credit for
specific Access to HE Diplomas, paying due regard to fairness and equity.

Verifying the standards of student achievement leading to the award of the Access to
HE Diploma, paying due regard to fairness and equity

Ensuring that assessment judgements are valid and consistent

Ensuring grading implementation has been applied correctly across the curriculum and
that grade decisions are consistent

Ensuring that the delivery of the course is in accordance with the AVA’s Learning
Programme Plan and the Provider’s Approval to Run documentation

Monitoring the student experience and ensuring that all students are receiving fair and
equitable treatment

Monitoring that internal moderation is taking place in a planned and structured way

Providing support to the course team and assisting them in continuous improvement of
the course, identifying areas of good practice and areas of improvement or
development
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Overview of External Moderation Model
An External Moderator is recruited from September in each academic year and is appointed
for one year to a named Access to HE Diploma for a specific provider/s.
An External Moderator can be appointed to a specific Access to HE Diploma for a specific
provider for normally no longer than three years. This can be increased to four years in
exceptional circumstances where consistency of the External Moderator would benefit the
provider (for example: a new tutor team).
The External Moderator will usually make two visits to the provider: January/early February
following commencement of the Access to HE Diploma in September and a final moderation
visit (usually July).
The final moderation visit usually coincides with the awards board at which the External
Moderator is normally required to attend.
Where a named Access to HE Diploma is being run for the first time with a provider, the
External Moderator will usually accompany the Access Development Officer to undertake an
additional support visit during the first few weeks in order to offer additional support to the
tutor team.
Following each visit, External Moderators are required to complete a detailed report on the
quality of a particular Access to HE course.
External Moderators are also expected to attend up to two standardisation events each year.
The Lead Moderator is responsible for writing an Annual Report which is informed by the
individual External Moderators’ reports. This report may indicate actions for both External
Moderators and the AVA. The report is submitted to the Access to HE Committee for
approval as part of the AVA Self-Evaluation Report (ASER).
To summarise, the main focus for the External Moderator must be the delivery and
assessment of the Access to HE Diploma. External Moderators must check that the
following are in place:


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Robust quality systems and processes
Consistent and appropriate documentation and record keeping
Consistent and high quality assessment practice
Student satisfaction with the Access to HE course experience
In addition, the External Moderator is responsible for the final sign-off of the
Recommendation for the Award of Credit (RAC) at the awards board.
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Internal Moderation
The AVA requires that providers undertake a transparent and effective system of internal
moderation. Providers will be required to have in place systems for pre-delivery internal
moderation and on-going internal moderation throughout the Diploma. External Moderators
are key to ensuring that this process is in place and is sufficiently robust to ensure internal
quality.
Purpose and Focus of the External Moderation Visits
Whilst there may be some slight differences according to the needs of the provider
(experienced providers may require a lighter touch than other providers), the purpose of a
moderation visit is:

To meet with the tutor team and review previous action plans
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To agree sampling methods
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To discuss assessment strategies, including grading
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To discuss assessment briefs and other assessment document
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To discuss issues raised from previous reports
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To discuss internal moderation policy and review internal moderation documents
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To sample student portfolios to verify assessment of achievement

To review any requests for extensions

To review any evidence presented for APL (in accordance with the AVA’s policy)

To obtain information to enable a judgement to be made on whether the Access to HE
Diploma course accurately represents the content of the documents previously
supplied to the AVA as part of the validation process

To safeguard the security of the Access to HE Diploma and to ensure it remains fit for
purpose

To provide a risk rating to enable the AVA to take appropriate action and to put in
place appropriate safeguarding measures

To meet with students at the first visit, listen to any concerns but also identify areas of
good practice. External Moderators are not able to meet with individual students under
the age of 18 or with vulnerable students without a parent or tutor being present
The External Moderator is not required to observe teaching.
External Moderators must always bear in mind the Lone Working Conditions as prepared by
the AVA and to conform to health and safety requirements set by the provider.
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Recognising Good Practice
The AVA requires External Moderators to make every effort to identify and record good
practice in the operation and delivery of Access to HE Diplomas. Good practice will differ
across tutor teams, Diplomas and providers. It is for the External Moderator to seek out
good practice and report accordingly.
Good practice can be identified where policies,
systems or other methods of operation, management or organisation of the Access to HE
Diploma courses are seen to be exemplary.
Examples of good practice could include, but are not limited to:

Timely and thorough internal moderation both pre-delivery and throughout the
academic year

Innovation in teaching, learning and assessment practices

Accurate monitoring of end of year progression routes

Excellent assessor feedback using focused and developmental language to provide
future skills development, particularly at distinction and beyond

Effective and developing use of virtual learning environments (VLEs) to enhance
teaching and learning

Effective student induction including the early issue of assignment schedules

Effective use of specialist software programmes to detect plagiarism eg Turnitin

Tutor teams who possess a strong sense of ownership of the Access to HE Diploma
course

Regular and minuted team minutes with action points
Identifying Poor Practice
External Moderator comments should be detailed, clear and constructive and report on
areas for improvement referring to appropriate evidence and clear timescales for action
required.
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Responsibilities of the AVA to Access to HE External Moderators
The AVA is fully committed to supporting External Moderators. They are ambassadors for
Certa. Our commitment to External Moderators includes:

Offering at least two full training days each academic year when External Moderators
are required to attend. They receive payment and travel expenses

Ensuring that External Moderators receive an early indication of their allocated
provision, usually September/early October

Payment and re-imbursement of travel expenses for attendance at up to two
standardisation events each academic year

Additional support and advice provided by the Lead Moderator who can be contacted,
via Certa. The aim is to respond to enquiries and queries within two working days

Ensuring that the latest documentation, policies and procedures are always available
on the Certa website

Provision of a Certa email address. Full details will be provided on appointment. It will
be of the format: [email protected]

Prompt and efficient response time from the Access to HE Team to queries and
enquiries

Acknowledging receipt of all reports promptly and forwarding these to the providers
once any inconsistencies identified by our quality checking have been amended

Listening to any recommendations for improvement and considering such
recommendations as part of the AVA’s on-going development and improvement
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Section 2: Timetable of Events
Date
Activity
July/August (prior to the External Moderators will be required to complete a CPD
start of the academic Record and submit a self-assessment report on their previous
year)
year’s activity.
September
Certa compiles a provisional EM allocation which is formally
approved by the Access to HE Committee.
Once student enrolment numbers are confirmed by providers,
the AVA will appoint External Moderators to specific named
Diplomas. The previous year’s External Moderator reports will
be supplied to the appointed EM by the AVA.
October/early November
External Moderators may be required to undertake a support
visit with the AVA’s Access Development Officer when a
provider is offering a named Diploma for the first time or where
there is a new tutor team.
October
External Moderators are required to attend the first of two
mandatory training events. These CPD events will up-date
External Moderators on any new processes/procedures,
consider issues and trends that have arisen from the previous
year and prepare them for their first visit to the provider.
November
The External Moderator will make contact with the provider’s
quality contact and suggest dates for the first visit.
The
quality contact is responsible for ensuring that details are
passed to the appropriate curriculum contact. Once the date is
confirmed, this should be advised to the Access to HE Senior
Administrator. A visit planner is then prepared by the External
Moderator and submitted to the provider.
January/early February
The first visit is undertaken (and the External Moderator meets
with the students). A report is written and submitted to the
AVA within ten working days. The report is reviewed before
being forwarded to the provider.
March
External Moderators are expected to attend up to two
standardisation events within their areas of specialism, to
assist the Lead Moderator.
April
External Moderators are required to attend the second
mandatory training event.
This will be an opportunity for
External Moderators to up-date their knowledge and prepare
for the final moderation visit and awards board.
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May/June
The External Moderator will make contact with the provider’s
quality contact and suggest dates for the final visit. A visit
planner is then prepared by the External Moderator and
submitted to the provider.
June/July
The awards board date is usually planned at the previous
year’s award board, although this will be confirmed by the
Access to HE Senior Administrator nearer the date in
discussion with the provider’s quality contact.
External Moderators attend for the final moderation visit and
awards board. Where more than one awards board is being
held, the External Moderator may be asked to act as AVA
representative for a different diploma. The final report is
submitted to the AVA within ten working days to be reviewed
before being forwarded to the provider. The awards board
minutes are completed at the time of the board, signed
immediately and subsequently submitted to the AVA together
with the signed Record of Achievement (RAC).
After the awards board, the EM (or AVA Representative) will
post hard copies of both the RAC and awards board minutes
to Certa.
July/early August
External Moderators will receive any queries from the AVA
and the provider relating to extensions agreed at the awards
board for students to complete work.
July
Submit final claim for fees and travel expenses for payment in
August.
There may be circumstances where an additional supplementary visit is thought to be
required by the External Moderator. In these circumstances, the External Moderator must
discuss this requirement with the Access to HE Manager before finalising arrangements.
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Section 3: The First Visit
The first visit should take place in January/early February. It is expected that the visit will not
last longer than three hours. The purpose of the visit is to:

Meet the quality contact and course co-ordinator

Meet as many of the tutors and internal moderators as is convenient, given teaching
commitments

Check that the course co-ordinator has all the necessary documentation

Ensure that problems that may prevent the confirmation of award of credit are resolved
early in the delivery of the course
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Check that recommendations made from the previous external moderation report have
been addressed
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To sample evidence of achievement to date
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To meet with students to monitor and discuss:
o
o
o
o
o
how they settled in
their understanding of the assessment process and grading requirements
the support available to them by the provider
the requirement to appoint a student representative who will be invited to
Certa to take part in the student representative meeting
students’ intended progression routes

To check that the Record of Achievement (RAC) is being completed as assessment
decisions are made

Use the RAC to choose a sample of assessed student work and if possible externally
moderate completed units by signing off those units, ensuring that a copy of the RAC
is retained by the External Moderator
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To check that all quality assurance processes are progressing satisfactorily. The
course co-ordinator should maintain a quality file which contains the following
documents:
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
Course Handbook
calendar of quality assurance activities set at the start of the course, including
all quality assurance activities required by the quality manager of the provider
list of assessors and tutors
table of internal moderators and curriculum responsibility for the process
pre-issue verification tasks, reports and resultant incorporation into a rolling
action plan
copy of Course and Learning Registration Forms (CLRF)
sampling frame or other evidence for internal moderation samples
completed quality assurance reports of visits to students and tutors
completed internal moderation reports for all assessed units and resultant
incorporation into a rolling action plan
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o
o
o
o
minutes of meetings which clearly identify internal moderation and quality
assurance items with the current rolling action plan with responses
reports from internal standardisation activities and resultant incorporation into
a rolling action plan
reports from external standardisation activity and resultant incorporation into a
rolling action plan
a rolling action plan indicating responses to External Moderator’s
recommendations or conditions, internal moderation reports, and any internal
quality assurance activity
Certa will forward to the External Moderator:

The previous year’s moderation reports relating to each of the Diplomas allocated to
the External Moderator

The AVA’s Learning Programme Plan for each Access to HE Diploma

A list of all other External Moderators appointed to the provider

The most recent Access to HE Handbook (the latest version will always be available
for reference on the Certa website)
At least ten working days before the visit, External Moderators will send a visit plan to the
quality contact or nominated curriculum contact as appropriate. The template for the visit
plan is available to download from the Certa website.
External Moderators provide oral feedback to the quality contact and the course team. It is
expected that at the end of the visit, the External Moderator will discuss the findings from the
visit with provider staff and clearly indicate areas of good practice and those for
development. Such discussions will ensure that any recommendations are written in such a
way as to be effected successfully by the provider.
External Moderators write a report after the visit, which will be sent directly to the Access to
HE team at Certa. This will then be reviewed and may be referred back to the External
Moderator for amendment or clarification. Once the final version is agreed, the report will be
forwarded to the provider’s quality contact by the Access to HE team. It is the responsibility
of the quality contact to cascade the report internally. The report proforma is available to
download from the Certa website.
These reports are considered by all parties concerned with the quality of the Diploma
provision: the Lead Access to HE Moderator, the AVA’s Access to HE Committee, the
Principal or Head and the Quality Manager of the provider, as well as the course team.
If there is a serious problem, the External Moderator should immediately contact the
Access to HE Manager to enable the AVA to initiate prompt action.
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Section 4: The Final (2nd) Moderation Visit
The final moderation visit should take place between mid-June and the middle of July to
complete the sampling and external moderation of all units, and to confirm the achievement
of the Diploma and/or credits. The second visit will be that of final moderation when students’
work is sampled, and the quality assurance documentation is closely monitored.
The purpose of the visit is to:

Sample from formally assessed work to confirm that the student has achieved against
specific learning outcomes and assessment criteria and to assist the AVA to mitigate
against malpractice

To assure that assessment decisions are appropriate, consistent, fair and transparent
across the sample

To assure the correct implementation of grading requirements

To assure that grade indicator and grade decisions are appropriate, consistent and fair
across the sample

To assure that grading processes are correctly applied to result in a grade for the unit,
and that any grade information is clearly shown at all stages of the process

To check the quality file to ensure that all activities planned in the calendar for quality
assurance have been completed

To ensure that the internal quality assurance system has been effectively applied to
the provision throughout the year
The External Moderator is responsible for confirming the achievement of the Access to HE
Diploma at this visit.
The External Moderator is charged with sampling from formally
assessed work to confirm that the student has achieved against specific learning outcomes
and assessment criteria. The External Moderators do not and should not need to see the
trail of learning which has led the student to the point of being able to complete the
assignment.
All internal moderation and standardisation must be completed at least one week before the
final visit so that the External Moderator can make a decision about the sample they wish to
see. It is considered to be good practice for providers to hold a pre-awards board meeting to
confirm readiness for final moderation. Any student portfolio that requires a tutor to walk the
External Moderator through it is not ready for external moderation. Such portfolios should be
referred back to the student for additional work.
At least ten working days before the visit, External Moderators will send a visit plan to the
quality contact or nominated curriculum contact as appropriate. The template for the visit
plan is available to download from the Certa website.
External moderators provide oral feedback to the quality contact and the course team. It is
expected that at the end of the visit, the External Moderator will discuss the findings from the
visit with provider staff and clearly indicate areas of good practice and those for
development. Such discussions will ensure that any recommendations are written in such a
way as to be effected successfully by the provider.
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External Moderators write a report after the visit, which will be sent to the Access to HE team
at Certa within ten working days. This will then be reviewed and may be referred back to the
External Moderator for amendment or clarification. Once the final version is agreed, the
report will be forwarded to the provider’s quality contact by the Access to HE team. It is the
responsibility of the quality contact to cascade the report internally. The report proforma is
available to download from the Certa website.
These reports are considered by all parties concerned with the quality of the Diploma
provision: the Lead Access to HE Moderator, the AVA’s Access to HE Committee, the
Principal or Head and the Quality Manager of the provider, as well as the course team.
The final moderation visit is usually followed by the awards board. However, this may have
been arranged on a different day where there is large provision or where specialist subjects
such as Art and Design are concerned.
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Section 5: Sampling Guidance for External Moderators
Providers will often make the whole body of student work available to the External Moderator
at the final moderation event. However, an External Moderator may decide for a variety of
reasons to choose a sample before the event (for example: a number of sites are involved
and there is a logistical problem, there is a large number of students, level of satisfaction of
quality processes in assessment at previous visits). It is essential that for new and high risk
providers, the whole body of evidence is available.
The completed electronic form of the RAC must be available to the External Moderator at
least one week before the event so that a satisfactory sample can be selected. The sample
chosen by the External Moderator is then identified on a hard copy of the RAC. Hence, the
AVA has a record of the sample taken.
In choosing a sample there will be a strategy that takes a number of key factors into account:

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Delivery sites
Tutors/assessors
Curriculum strands
Unit level and credit value
Rules of combination – mandatory and optional units
Delivery format: one/two year, evening provision etc
Assessment methods
Work that has been internally moderated
Grade range
Unusual or unexpected patterns in the award of grades
Reasonable adjustments to meet special requirements
Resubmission, appeals, representation and referral cases.
Issues from previous internal and external moderation
External Moderators will sample in two ways: by looking in detail at the work of individual
students throughout the Diploma and by sampling particular tasks or units across a range of
students to evaluate grading decisions.
If there are less than 10 students it is advisable to sample all portfolios. If there are 20
students, a 50 % sample should be taken. No minimum percentage is stipulated.
External Moderators should consider the profile of grades awarded to students and establish
the reasons for the profile. For example, if there are a larger than expected number of
distinctions awarded for a particular unit or by an individual tutor, the reasons should be
explored.
A RAC not completed on the arrival of the External Moderator will result in the
cancellation of the event. The provider will be charged to meet the cost of a reconvened event in accordance with Certa’s charging policy. If in doubt, the External
Moderator should contact the Access to HE team for advice during the early stages of
a visit.
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Section 6: The Awards Board
All Access to HE Diploma courses are required to hold a formal awards board. It is the
responsibility of the provider’s quality contact to arrange the awards board. It is chaired by a
member of senior management from the provider. The final awards board is normally held in
late June or early July and will usually take place immediately following the final moderation
visit. This is to ensure that:
(i)
(ii)
results can be processed and uploaded to UCAS well before A-level results day
in mid-August, and
certificates can be printed and forwarded to providers for onward transmission to
students
There are some exceptions to these dates (for example: courses which commence in
January).
If more than one awards board is taking place on the same day, External Moderators are
required to act as the AVA Representative.
Certification for students can only be progressed when all documentation is accurately
completed and forwarded to Certa. This includes:

Accurate minutes of the awards board which are fully completed and signed by the
Chair and External Moderator

Fully completed RAC which is submitted both electronically and in hard copy
External Moderators should make themselves fully aware of the contents of the awards
board Policy and Specification.
Whilst the Access to HE team will have contacted the quality contact of the provider to
finalise the date and advise who should be in attendance at the awards board, it is the
provider’s responsibility to ensure that the awards board business is completed on the day.
An experienced External Moderator (the ‘Moderation Co-ordinator’) is allocated to each
provider, from the pool of External Moderators who have been appointed to that provider, to
assist with the co-ordination of the final visits and awards board.
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Section 7: Writing the External Moderation Report
In order to address all the relevant points, every section in the current report proformas must
be completed. If there is nothing to report under a heading then there should be some
explanation.
The external moderation report should:

Clearly express issues concisely in an objective way so that they are unambiguous
and easily understood by the potential audience

Be written about the particular Access to HE Diploma. Certa will not accept reports
that are not clearly about the individual Diploma. Where there are reasonable
comments that can apply to all diplomas at a provider (for example: resources,
guidance to students), this must be clearly identified

Avoid abbreviations and provide complete sentences, not notes. Be presented to a
high standard using short sentences – complex ones can be misunderstood

Omit names, use designations only

Use terms used in QAA documentation consistently and correctly (for example: grade
descriptor components)

Use terms relating to the principles of assessment accurately i.e. validity, reliability etc.

Be word-processed and on the proforma available on the AVA website

Provide balanced judgements citing evidence.

Clearly identify recommendations/conditions, following logically from points made in
the body of the report

Always provide evidence of good practice where possible and developmental action
where appropriate

Be sent directly to Certa, copies are not to be given to the provider directly. The
reports will then be reviewed and may be referred back to the External Moderator for
amendment or clarification. Once the final version is agreed, the report will be
forwarded to the provider’s quality contact by the Access to HE team. It is the
responsibility of the quality contact to cascade the report internally

Certa will send the final copy of the report to the provider’s quality contact and to the
External Moderator

The external moderation reports should not be discussed with, or made available to
anyone outside of Certa or the provider.
In addition to the formal report form, the AVA has available an Information and Issues Form
(available to download from the Certa website) that can be used to identify any issues that
are not appropriate for the visit report. This form alerts the AVA to any potential sensitive
issue, potential change at the provider, or confidential issue that the AVA should be aware
of.
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Section 8: The Role of the Lead Moderator
The AVA has a Lead Moderator for Access to HE whose role includes:

Acting in a supporting and advisory role to the Access to HE Manager and AVA teams

Attending meetings with QAA, and others, where appropriate

Supporting and/or chairing validation panels

Planning and facilitating the annual standardisation events which take place in
March/April each year

Accompanying new External Moderators as part of their induction process (other
experienced External Moderators with an appropriate curriculum expertise may also
cover this role)

Contributing to Access to HE CPD events

Supporting External Moderators to carry out their roles and responsibilities in a
professional way and to the highest possible standard

Writing a report following the annual AVA standardisation events

Writing an annual report based on the External Moderator reports. This report includes
recommendations for the AVA’s Access to HE Committee
The Lead Moderator can be contacted via Certa. The aim is to respond to enquiries and
queries within two working days.
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Section 9: Supplementary and Support Visits
Certa may arrange for support or supplementary visits in the following situations:
Supplementary Visits

When a provider offers a variation on the normal once-a-year intake of students

When a provider has transferred from another AVA
Support Visits

The first run of a new Diploma as a support to the provider. Certa’s Access
Development Officer may also accompany the External Moderator

when a Diploma has undergone substantial quality assurance or curriculum
development or is in fragile circumstance
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Section 10:
Practice)
QAA’s Licensing Criteria (relating to Moderation
Criteria for the licensing and relicensing of Access Validating Agencies
May 2011 (updated July 2014)
Precept 5: Moderation, monitoring and certification
The organisation (Certa) maintains the quality and standards of recognised
Access to HE courses, and it makes Access to HE Awards to students who have
the met the specified requirements for achievement and performance.
These criteria relate to the ways in which AVAs maintain consistency and sufficiency of
demand of recognised Access to HE courses, the quality of the provision and the academic
standards that are required for the award of Access to HE Diplomas. The criteria also require
AVAs to operate a regulated and secure process for making awards and issuing Access to
HE Diplomas, credits and grades.
Managing moderation and course monitoring
Systems of moderation and course monitoring, and the divisions between them, vary
according to AVAs' different quality assurance systems and different models of organisation
of Access to HE provision.
Moderation is principally concerned with ensuring that academic standards on recognised
Access to HE courses are maintained, in terms of a) the specific requirements of approved
Diplomas, b) the academic challenge and demand made by the curriculum, delivery and
assessment of courses, and c) the achievement and performance demonstrated by the
students who are recommended for the award of specific Diplomas, credits and grades.
Course monitoring is principally concerned with confirming that the delivery of Access to
HE Diplomas a) provides a positive and appropriate student experience and outcomes, and
b) is consistent with the criteria for provider/centre approval, including requirements relating
to internal course self-evaluation and review.
Alternative routes to moderation and monitoring
Moderation systems are often used to support the AVA's systems for course monitoring, and
moderators may be asked to provide information about the quality of provision and the
student experience. As a result, some of the requirements of course monitoring are
sometimes met through the moderation process.
Criteria
The organisation (Certa) can demonstrate that it meets the following criteria. (All parts and
sub-parts of the criteria apply, unless otherwise indicated.)
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Moderation processes
Moderation involves the appointment of moderators by the AVA. Systems and organisation
of moderation differ, however, and different models may involve, for example:
i teams of moderators considering assessment and achievement on individual Access to
HE courses, each moderator looking at one or more particular area(s) of the course
ii teams of moderators considering assessment and achievement on all of a particular
provider's/centre's Access to HE courses, individual moderators looking at related areas
on several courses, with a single lead moderator coordinating the moderation
iii teams of moderators considering assessment and achievement on particular Diplomas
delivered by more than one provider/centre
iv teams of moderators who consider assessment and/or achievement in relation to certain
subject areas (or sets of units) across a number of courses or Diplomas
v teams of moderators who determine all aspects of assessment on a set of courses or
Diplomas (and who may have no direct relationship with any particular provider/centre), and
separate (or the same) teams who consider achievement on those courses or Diplomas,
with visits to provider/centres being conducted as a separate process.
5.1 It maintains a system of regular external moderation, conducted by moderators
appointed by the AVA, which applies to all recognised Access to HE courses.
5.2 It provides information about the operation of its moderation processes (including details
about alternative processes that may be operated by the AVA), in guidance to moderators
and to providers/centres.
5.3 Its guidance includes clear information about:
a the structural organisation of the AVA's moderation processes, including the different
stages and parts of its processes and how they are related
b moderators' roles and responsibilities (including information about the roles of different
types of moderator)
c the basis, extent and limits of moderators' authority
d the purpose of visits and/or meetings and activities undertaken by moderators at visits
and/or meetings (including information about different purposes/activities for visits/meetings
which take place at different stages)
e the frequency of moderator visits and/or meetings
f requirements for monitoring and verifying student achievement, including criteria for the
sampling of evidence of student achievement
g moderation outcomes relating to student achievement, and how these are taken forward
to final awards boards
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h requirements for moderator reports, including information about the nature, structure,
content and frequency of reporting
i how, and to whom, any concerns or problems identified should be referred
j the submission of reports to the AVA and associated follow-up activity.
5.4 It routinely reviews and updates its guidance to ensure its continuing currency.
Moderation responsibilities
5.5 Its moderation (and/or course monitoring) system(s) and processes ensure that:
a the curriculum delivered on a recognised Access to HE course is consistent with the
requirements of its definitive Diploma documentation and is appropriate for its purpose in
providing a preparation for study in HE for its target student groups
b course organisation allows all students to meet the rules of combination and any other
completion requirements for the Diploma on which they are registered
c approved providers/centres continue to meet the terms of provider/ centre approval
d providers/centres monitor and enhance the quality of the student experience, including
taking action to elicit and respond to student evaluation and feedback
e assessment practices on Access to HE courses are consistent with The Access to
Higher Education Diploma and credit specifications and grading requirements
f the conduct of assessment and application
providers/centres is thorough, rigorous and fair
of
assessment
regulations
by
g details of assignment requirements and means by which they are assessed:







support the needs of target groups
provide an appropriate level of academic challenge and demand
provide opportunities for differentiation of performance
support the development of academic skills and the promotion of learning
allow students to demonstrate their learning
allow the assessor to identify whether the specified learning outcomes have been
achieved
ensure rigorous assessment of student achievement
h minimum standards required for threshold achievement and performance are consistent
with requirements for achievement of the relevant learning outcomes and grade descriptors
i consistent standards are applied in assessment, so that equivalent student achievement
and performance is reflected in consistent recommendations for credits and grades
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j students awarded the Access to HE Diploma have successfully completed the required
learning at the required standard, and their performance is reflected in grades awarded
k providers/centres operate rigorous internal moderation/verification procedures which
meet the AVA's requirements, and which ensure that consistent standards are applied to
assessment and achievement on recognised Access to HE courses
l public information about Access to HE courses is current and accurate.
Moderator recruitment, selection and appointments
5.6 It operates standard procedures, using clear and transparent criteria, for the selection
and appointment of moderators, which ensure that moderators:
a have relevant experience in adult, further or higher education
b have relevant and current subject knowledge for their area(s) of moderating responsibility.
5.7 Where moderators are involved in moderation at subject level, they are qualified and/or
experienced in teaching in the area(s) that they are responsible for moderating, at a level at
or beyond that at which the subject has been taught and assessed (that is, moderation of
level 3 units is undertaken by those with a qualification and/or teaching experience in a
related discipline at level 3 or above).
5.8 Moderators are appointed by, and are directly responsible to, the AVA and not a
providing or receiving institution or any other body.
5.9 Contractual agreements between the moderator and the AVA set out the moderator's
specific duties and term of service (see paragraph 5.10), and the criteria and process for
termination of a moderator's employment.
5.10 Moderators are external to the provider/centre and do not hold a position in any
receiving institution, the nature of which could create a conflict of interest or limit students'
progression opportunities (for example, through direct involvement in admissions decisions
for students progressing from the Access to HE course).
5.11 Where the moderator's role involves a direct relationship with individual Access to HE
courses, the moderator's period of office for work with the individual course(s) is, in normal
circumstances, no longer than four years.
5.12 The moderators involved in the moderation of any individual Access to HE course
jointly provide sufficient expert moderation at the subject level for the number and range of
subject areas included in the course.
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Moderator induction and training
5.13 Moderators receive a planned programme of mandatory induction and training,
supplemented by written guidance (see paragraph 5.4), that enables them to carry out their
role effectively.
5.14 The AVA routinely updates moderators on any changes in the AVA's requirements, or
changes which relate to the Access to HE Diploma.
5.15 There are mechanisms to enable moderators to compare standards and judgements
across the AVA's Access to HE courses.
5.16 It monitors moderators' performance, and takes appropriate action if performance is
deemed to be unsatisfactory.
Moderation reports
5.17 It operates standard procedures to ensure that action is taken in response to matters
requiring action raised in moderation reports, including procedures for:
a receiving and responding promptly to individual moderation reports
b providing copies of moderators' reports to appropriate provider/centre staff
c ensuring that matters raised in reports which require specific action by providers/centres
are brought to providers'/centres' attention, a clear timescale for action is given, and
implementation of actions is confirmed
d taking action if providers/centres fail to address issues raised in reports, including
procedures for the ultimate sanction of withdrawal of course recognition
e ensuring that matters raised in reports proposing modifications to Diplomas are formally
considered, and any necessary modifications are made (in accordance with the AVA's
Diploma modification procedures, see paragraphs 4.35 - 4.39) before the next run of the
Diploma
f taking action in the event that moderators do not meet the AVA's requirements in the
execution of their duties
g analysing the overall outcomes of the moderation (and course monitoring) system(s)
across all of the AVA's recognised Access to HE courses on a regular (normally annual)
basis (see paragraph 5.24).
5.18 It provides opportunities for providers/centres to provide feedback to the AVA on the
moderation process.
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Course monitoring and review
5.19 It monitors and reviews Access to HE courses on a regular (normally annual) basis,
collecting information which will allow it to confirm the impact, quality and standards of its
recognised Access to HE courses and to assess the effectiveness of its own quality
assurance procedures.
5.20 It collects statistical data about Access to HE courses and students according to a
standard set of categories, including those required for reports to QAA.
5.21 The process for course reviews, and the format for reports required by the AVA, takes
account of providers'/centres' own self-assessment processes and those that they undertake
to report to other bodies and draws on relevant material from the outcomes of those
processes. The information may be provided in a single course report, or through other
mechanisms which are appropriate to the AVA's quality assurance systems and the
organisation of provision.
5.22 While course reviews may allow providers/centres to report on all Access to HE
provision at the same time, they differentiate between outcomes and distinctive features of
different Diplomas that they deliver.
5.23 Providers'/centres' course reviews provide information and comment to the AVA about:
a student recruitment, retention, achievement and success
b student progression and destinations
c standards of student performance
d student feedback received about the course and the quality of their learning experience,
and the provider's/centre's response to issues raised
e examples of innovation and good practice.
5.24 It seeks feedback from its partner HE institutions about the performance of Access to
HE students and the appropriateness of the preparation provided by its recognised Access
to HE courses.
5.25 It analyses and formally considers the information and feedback (including statistical
information) that it gathers from providers/centres and HE partners, and, in response:
a identifies concerns about the quality of provision or standards of student achievement on
individual Access to HE courses or Diplomas which had not been raised by the moderation
process
b takes effective action to address issues identified, including systematic follow-up when
issues have been notified to the provider/centre
c disseminates examples of good practice among providers/centres
d identifies lessons for the effectiveness of its own quality assurance procedures, and
ensures that, where required, appropriate changes are made to procedures.
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5.26 The designated body within the organisation's governance structure that has
responsibility for quality and standards on Access to HE courses (for example, an Access to
HE Committee or other body which includes representation from HE) maintains oversight of
the moderation and course monitoring processes and it:
a ensures the robustness of the processes and consistency of their operation
b considers and confirms any decisions that relate to potential withdrawal of course
recognition
c receives the AVA's analysis of the overall outcomes of the moderation and course
monitoring processes
d ensures that the outcomes of the moderation and monitoring processes are disseminated
and used to improve and enhance recognised Access to HE provision within the AVA.
Standardisation
5.27 It takes steps to ensure that equivalent standards and requirements for achievement
apply on different Access to HE courses which lead to Diplomas, within the AVA and across
different student cohorts, with reference to The Access to Higher Education Diploma
qualification and credit specifications and grading requirements, and:
a where Access to HE Diplomas or common units are available on more than one course, it
operates mechanisms to ensure that consistent standards are applied across
providers/centres, in relation to assessment requirements and judgements about
achievement (including graded achievement), and its moderation systems take account of
the outcomes of this process
b where Access to HE Diplomas or units are available in cognate subject areas on different
courses, it provides opportunities for those involved in Access to HE assessment and
moderation to define and compare specific standards of required achievement for the award
of credits and grades, and its moderation systems take account of the outcomes of this
process.
Award of Access to HE Diplomas
5.28 It operates standard specified procedures for the award of Access to HE Diplomas to
students that are consistent with The Access to Higher Education Diploma and credit
specifications, grading requirements and assessment regulations and, in particular:
a makes clear that decisions about the award of Access to HE Diplomas, credits and grades
are made by final awards boards
b provides explicit guidance about the function, process, and appropriate membership of
final awards boards, consistent with the requirements of QAA's assessment regulations for
Access to HE
c operates effective procedures to confirm that all students recommended for the award of
an Access to HE Diploma have achieved the requirements of its specific rules of
combination
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d ensures that evidence of achievement (including evidence relating to the accreditation of
prior learning) has been verified, and the moderation process has been completed, before
recommendations for the award of credits, grades or Diplomas are made to the AVA
e decisions made by the final awards board about the award of credit, grades and Diplomas
are forwarded to the AVA in a standard format and are transmitted securely
f ensures that all students on Access to HE courses who complete the required learning
achievement are awarded an Access to HE Diploma, including the award of credits and
grades for relevant units
g ensures that all students who do not complete the learning required for the award of a
Diploma are awarded credits for all units successfully completed.
5.29 It operates secure data systems which maintain records of all Access to HE Awards
made by the AVA (see paragraph 3.9, f and g).
QAA856 - Jul 14
© The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2014
Southgate House, Southgate Street, Gloucester GL1 1UB
Tel: 01452 557 000
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.qaa.ac.uk
Registered charity
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Section 11: Summary of External Moderator Roles
The AVA needs to ensure the continuity of experienced External Moderators and has
introduced a range of roles:









Lead Moderator
External Moderator
Mentor
Mentee
Handover Moderator
Observer
AVA Rep
Subject Moderator
Moderation Co-ordinator
These roles and the applicable fees are described in the following table.
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SUMMARY OF EXTERNAL MODERATOR ROLES
Role
Experience
External
Moderator
Substantial experience in
delivery at Level 3 and above,
including assessment and
quality assurance in adult
education
Mentor
Worked as an experienced
external moderator
Subject
Moderator
Experienced subject specialist
Summary of Activity Required
 Full range of activity in line with issued external
moderator contract
 Invited by Certa to fulfil role and formally accepted
external moderator contract
 Full range of activity in line with issued external
moderator contract
 Liaise with mentee when required for attendance
at the first and/or final visit but retain responsibility
of the moderation process required at the visit
 Provide feedback to the Access to HE Manager on
mentee(s) assigned during the academic year
 Encourage and oversee the mentee being involved
in moderation of student work
 Will normally accompany the external moderator at
the final visit unless issues have been identified at
the first visit (ie no work available for moderation at
first visit), when a subject moderator will visit on
their own to moderate particular subjects
 Will provide an oral report to the external
moderator based on the sections in the EM report
 Will provide a summative report at the end of all
visits to be sent to Certa
Certa Access Diploma External Moderators Handbook
Fees/Payment
In accordance with the
contract plus reasonable
travel expenses*
Fee payable on
completion of feedback
report on appointed
mentee = £20
Fee = £60 plus
reasonable travel
expenses*
30
Role
Experience
AVA
Representative
for awards
board
Experienced external
moderator with full knowledge
of Certa procedures
Mentee
(there is no
guarantee of an
EM contract
during the
current or
following year)
Summary of Activity Required
 To attend at the time and date provided by the
AVA
 AVA to provide relevant AVA quality documents
 To ensure awards board follows the AVA
procedures
 To offer information/guidance on AVA policies as
required
 No report to write
 To carry out checks on RAC as required during the
awards board
 To carry out checks on both the summary sheet
and the results sheet to ensure accuracy
 Liaise with experienced external moderator
 Accompany experienced external moderator with
Will attend the CPD event for
same area of specialisms, for normally one visit
external moderators or been
through induction with the Lead during the academic year, to decide whether to
continue with application to become an external
Moderator
moderator
 Invited to attend at a standardisation event within
their curriculum specialism

Maintain confidentiality at all times
May have limited experience of

No report to write
Access to HE but will have

A mentee may be invited to take on full external
significant experience within a
moderator responsibilities in-year on successful
subject specialism provision at
feedback from mentoring external moderator
Level 3 or above
Certa Access Diploma External Moderators Handbook
Fees/Payment
Fee payable when
attending at AVA
invitation (ie not already at
the provider premises
undertaking external
moderator duties) = £50
plus reasonable travel
expenses* and postage
costs for sending hard
copies of documentation
to Certa
No payment
Reasonable travel
expenses to be paid but
advised to Certa in
advance*
31
Observer
(there is no
guarantee of an
EM contract
during the
current or
following year)
Moderation
Co-ordinator
 Liaise with experienced external moderator
May have limited experience of  Accompany experienced external moderator with
same area of specialism, for one visit during the
Access to HE but will have
academic year, to decide whether to continue with
significant experience within a
application to become an external moderator
subject specialism provision at
 Maintain confidentiality at all times
Level 3 or above
 Invited to attend at a standardisation event within
their curriculum specialism
 No report to write
 Going out for own interest and CPD opportunity
with a potential view to possible external
moderator work at a later stage
Experienced external
moderator with full knowledge
of Certa procedures
 To liaise with other external moderators at the
same provider to organise the date for the final
awards boards
No payment
No travel expenses
No additional payment as
included within external
moderator fee
*Reasonable travel expenses = normally the standard rail fare or 40p per mile whichever is the most convenient.
Other potential expenses should be discussed, and agreed, in advance, with the Head of Access.
An expenses claim form is available
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Section 12: Code of Conduct for External Moderators
In accepting a Contract from Certa to undertake the role of an External Moderator, an
External Moderator must abide by the following Code of Conduct:

Act in ways which do not bring the AVA into disrepute

Promote the best interests of the AVA at all times

Maintain an appropriate level of objectivity and independence, notifying the AVA
where there is any possibility of this being compromised

Act in a supportive and professional manner at all times

Treat students, provider staff, Certa colleagues with courtesy and respect at all times

Not discriminate against students or tutors on the grounds of their origin, race, status,
sexual orientation, age, disability or beliefs

Respect the privacy of students and not divulge any confidential information

Respect the confidential nature of the External Moderator’s role and not divulge nor
communicate any confidential information to any company, business entity,
organisation or the media

Respect the laws of copyright

Give precedence to the professional responsibility of the role of the External
Moderator over personal interests

Observe the Health and Safety Policy of both the provider and Certa and comply with
accident reporting procedures.

Declare any conflict of interests
In addition, External Moderators are required to:

Supply a telephone number on which Certa can make contact (including a mobile
telephone number when the External Moderator is away from home)

Access their Certa email on a regular basis and respond to AVA correspondence
promptly

Read, and respond to, the Monthly Bulletin
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Section 13: Maintaining Records of Continuous Professional
Development
Certa will support External Moderators in their work through both formal training
(attendance at the two mandatory CPD events each academic year) and through informal
guidance. The informal guidance can be provided either by the Lead Moderator or the
Access to HE Manager.
In August each year, the AVA will contact each External Moderator and request the
following information to be supplied. Responses to the request will in part determine
whether the AVA feels that a further year’s contract can be offered to the External
Moderator:



A report on their experiences throughout the year
A record of their CPD
Expression of interest in future work with Certa
It is recommended that a log of CPD undertaken is maintained throughout the year ready
for submission to the AVA. An example is given on the following page.
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Summary of CPD undertaken during 2014/15
Name:
NB: CPD may include lectures attended, membership of professional bodies, working for other
Awarding Organisations or Access Validating Agencies, papers written, research undertaken,
training delivered etc.
Date
Length of time
Summary of CPD undertaken
(eg 2 hours)
4 September 2014
4.00 pm to 6.30 pm
Certa – Assisting providers with the implementation
of the new Access to HE Diploma
14 October 2014
9.30 am to 4.00 pm
Preparing for 1st External Moderation Event
15 April 2015
9.30 am to 4.00 pm
Preparing for Final Moderation and awards board
2 May 2015
4.00 pm to 6.00 pm
Visiting lecture on creative assessment held at the
University of Hull
Membership of Professional Bodies
Name: British Psychology Society
Date Joined: 27/2/1999
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Section 14: Monitoring of External Moderator’s Performance
Certa is required to monitor the performance of External Moderator’s and take appropriate
action as required.
Certa will support External Moderators in their work through training and informal support
by the Access to HE team, the Lead Moderator and the Quality Team.
To assist Certa, the following are in place:


Mandatory attendance and participation at External Moderator CPD events
Evaluations completed by providers following External Moderator visits (using the
SurveyMonkey on-line tool)
An observation cycle of External Moderators in practice
Reviewing of Visit One and Final Visit external moderation reports to establish a
standardised approach to External Moderator practices
Mentees are assigned a mentor and are supported and observed in practice. The
mentee may not be subsequently appointed if the AVA considers that the mentee
does not meet the expected criteria



A letter of resignation is required from moderators wishing to withdraw from any duties.
Notice of one calendar month is requested in order to ensure that the post can be filled with
minimum disruption to the programme.
Where an External Moderator fails to comply with the terms of the contract, the Chief
Executive Officer (CEO) will review each case individually and will normally informally
discuss any concerns with the External Moderator.
If it is not possible to resolve an issue informally:





the CEO will collate evidence and will invite the External Moderator to a meeting to
be held at Certa House within 14 days of the informal discussion. The meeting will
be minuted
actions required by the External Moderator will be forwarded to the External
Moderator within 10 working days of the meeting
the External Moderator will be required to respond in writing to the actions within a
further ten days of the date of this communication
If any issue cannot be resolved as above, the Chair of the Access to HE Committee
will consider the evidence and responses and will convene a hearing within 40
working days of the initial meeting with the CEO. The hearing will include: the Chair
of the Access to HE Committee, the CEO, the Access to HE Manager, the External
Moderator and the External Moderator’s representative if required
A letter will be sent to the External Moderator within 10 working days of the hearing
The hearing may decide to:



Take no further action
To suspend the External Moderator until further training and support has taken place
To inform the External Moderator that no further contracts will be issued and that any
existing contracts will be terminated with immediate effect
Certa Access Diploma External Moderators Handbook
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Certa,
Certa House,
Lower Warrengate,
Wakefield. WF1 1SA
Phone: 01924 434600
Fax: 01924 364213
[email protected]
http://www.certa.org.uk/
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