Unit Design

Return to index


The procedures for ensuring there is appropriate expertise for development of units submitted to the RQF/CFQW

  • The procedure starts with the Governing Body ensuring that the Chief Assessor has appropriate relevant expertise in unit design in the target sector. (See job specification in Annexe 1)
  • The Chief Assessor has access to appropriate expertise in subject sector areas through membership of professional associations and networks
  • Informal and day to day dialogue with the regulators, sector skills councils, learning and skills councils, (eg as a member of the Awarding Body Forum of e-skills) professional organisations such as NAACE, BECTA and OFSTED ensure that the Chief Assessor is kept up to date with expertise relevant to the subject matter on which unit design is based. Any delegation is limited to drafting so that final review and sign off always rests with the Chief Assessor.This ensures that the Chief Assessor's expertise is brought to bear on every unit designed and submitted to the RQF.
  • The Chief Assessor delegates initial drafting of the design of units to suitably experienced personnel either in-house or consultants with suitable experience and qualifications, for example the Principal Moderator is a Chartered Assessor and Fellow of the Institute of Educational Assessors, the Account Managers at TLM are all being trained in unit design. The Governing Body has a mandate to recruit similar personnel through its constitution and job descriptions.
  • Any draft unit designs are checked independently by at least two people, judged to have appropriate expertise by the Chief Assessor, before being submitted to the RQF/ CQFW.
  • The Chief Assessor or The Principal Moderator must be one of the checkers. (see job specifications in annexe 2 that ensure these are both suitably qualified and competent people).
  • Any guidance on unit design or unit assessment provided by The Learning Machine Ltd will be reviewed by the Chief Assessor or Principal Moderator before publication.
  • The requirements for expertise will be part of the job specification of the relevant personnel and will be required aspects of candidates during recruitment procedures based on the specifications of the job descriptions.
  • The Chief Assessor will keep up to date with professional matters associated with the RQF/CQFW by attending meetings, briefings and training provided by the regulators, sector skills councils and similar organisations.
  • The Learning Machine Ltd will provide training of relevant personnel, led by the Chief Assessor, to ensure drafts of unit are made with appropriate expertise.
  • The procedures for checking units during the moderation and verification processes will provide a focus for feedback to ensure that all are appropriately up to date.
  • The Chief Assessor will meet with Account Managers at least once per month to discuss unit design and assessment and update their skils and knowledge.



The procedure for design and development of qualifications

  • Chief Assessor identifies the need for the qualification unit E 1.3  through consultation with the Sector Skills Council, scrutiny of the Sector Qualifications Strategy and research evidence eg QCA's Foundation Learning Tier research which showed few qualifications supported coherent progression to level 2.  (As a specific example, in moving the current TLM qualifications from the NQF to the QCF it will be possible to use mostly the new e-skills ITQ units based on NOS 3. The design of a sector specific unit for schools will enable full compatibility with the National Curriculum as well as reducing the number of units needing transfer from the NQF to the QCF. The OFSTED publication "The Importance of IT" (March 2009) highlighted that many schools offering vocational IT user qualifications pre-16 are failing to meet the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum and are not catering properly for the higher attaining learners. Since the IT Diploma is targeted on future IT practitioners rather than IT users there is a specific gap to fill. Consultation in establishing a solution includes being a member of the e-skills Awarding Body Forum and the employers panel developing the new NOS, meeting with HMI responsible for "The Importance of ICT", meeting with BECTA's Director of Workforce Development, membership of the Computing at School group and BECTA's Schools Open Source Project, dialogue with representatives of the business community, members of NAACE, teachers and governors and learners in schools. In order to make a rule of combination that will resolve this issue we need a sector specific unit that covers the requirements of the National Curriculum not present in the National Occupational Standards and ITQ units. Such a unit will enable learners to achieve the ITQ (National Vocational Qualification for IT users) while meeting the full requirements of the National Curriculum, achieving additional learning units for the Diplomas (TLM is a CAB) and providing unit progression in support of the Foundation Learning Tier from Entry 1 to Level 2. This then provides some detail about the approach to identifying a rationale for unit development.)
  • Chief Assessor interrogates the unit data bank of the RQF/CFQW to ensure that an existing unit does not meet the targeted needs. In the illustrative example above, the proposed sector specific unit for schools no such unit exists and without one, no vocational IT user qualifications will meet the full requirements of the National Curriculum.
  • Chief Assessor takes part in informal dialogue with Sector Skills Council to further check that no existing unit can serve the purpose of the proposed unit.
  • Draft materials originated by those with this identified in their job description and placed in the development folder taking account of levels and credit value.
  • For new units, establish level by cross-referencing with RQF/CFQW level descriptions, EQF level descriptions, NC level descriptions, and comparability with established units in the RQF/CFQW. Chief assessor and Principal Moderator both agree that the level is correct, where possible get external opinion from the Sector Skills Council.
  • For new units, derive credit values from comparison with established units in the RQF/CFQW and a judgement about the time it is likely to take an average learner at this level to learn sufficiently to meet the assessment criteria. These judgements will be based on extensive professional experience and expertise as described in 3.1 above, not least the existing accredited qualifications that are the basis for the RQF/CFQW ones. The Senior Accounts Manager, Chief Assessor and Principal Moderator independently evaluate the credit value to assign to the unit. Where possible illustrative course materials drafted that demonstrate that the unit content is consistent with the credit value and request an opinion from the Sector Skills Council.
  • Two independent competent people review, edit, and amend units to ensure they fully meet the requirements set out in the design specification in the RQF/CFQW Regulatory Arrangements (including Diversity and Equality) and that they fulfil the purpose of enabling working rules of combination to meet the identified qualifications need.
  • Chief Assessor reviews and signs off units for inclusion in the RQF/CFQW data bank.
  • Units are finally submitted to conform to the format requirements of the qualifications regulators.


On-going review

There will be an annual review of all TLM RQF/CFQW units led by the Chief Assessor

  • Feedback from Centres is acted upon within the constraints of the regulatory framework to maximise the benefit to learners and minimise costs to centres.

Review will be based on the following criteria:

  • level of customer demand
  • needs identified by the relevant Sector Skills Council and similar stakeholders
  • support for innovation and change.

The procedures for review are:

Review the continued need for a unit

  • This review will be part of the annual review.
  • The Chief Assessor will review continued need against the stated criteria.
  • The Chief Assessor will make a recommendation for continuing or discontinuing a unit stating reasons
  • Recommendations will be presented to the Governing Body
  • The Governing Body will approve or reject recommendations giving reasons if it is a rejection
  • The Chief Assessor will contact the Regulators to inform them of any proposed withdrawal of a unit to ensure there is no damage to the interests of learners.

Review the continued accuracy and consistency in levels and credit values

  • This review will be part of the annual review.
  • The Chief Assessor will review accuracy and consistency by cross-referencing with specific units in similar fields in the RQF/CFQW unit databank.
  • The Chief Assessor will make a recommendation for any adjustments in relation to accuracy and consistency to the Governing Body.
  • Recommendations will be presented to the Governing Body
  • The Governing Body will approve or reject recommendations giving reasons it it is a rejection
  • The Chief Assessor will contact the Regulators to inform them of any proposed changes to a unit to ensure there is no damage to the interests of learners.

Ensure the continued compliance of the unit with the requirements set out in the design features in section 1

  • This review will be part of the annual review.
  • The Chief Assessor will review compliance by referencing against the requirements set out in the Regulatory Arrangements and any updates.
  • The Chief Assessor will make a recommendation for any adjustments required to the Governing Body.
  •  Recommendations will be presented to the Governing Body.
  •  The Governing Body will approve or reject recommendations giving reasons it it is a rejection.
  • The Chief Assessor will contact the Regulators to inform them of any proposed changes to a unit to ensure there is no damage to the interests of learners.

Use evidence from delivery, assessment and awarding of the unit at appropriate times as part of the review process

  • The Chief assessor will make use of evidence from delivery, assessment and awarding of the unit at the time of the annual review.
  • The Chief Assessor will receive evidence from the Senior Account Manager two weeks prior to the review that will include customer feedback, evidence from moderation and verification and evidence from centre visits to inform review recommendations.
  • The Chief Assessor will make available supporting evidence to the Governing Body on request

Reviewing Total Qualification Time (TQT)

  • The Chief assessor will as part of the review of qualifications to ensure their continued validity within the regulatory system, complete reviews of the GLH and TQT values allocated at the time of the design of the qualification.
  • The Chief Assessor will feedback from the Senior Account Manager on statements gained from centres to maintain our evidence based approach.
  • The Chief Assessor will make available through a published revised qualification specification for any changes deemed necessary.


  • Relying on customer demand alone is dangerous because in the field of technology, for example, that approach will lead to qualifications lagging behind industry change when there is a clear benefit in learning about new key technologies in order that they do spread quickly. In such circumstances initial take up might be sparse and take time to build. The relevance and need for maintenance, modification and withdrawal of units will be discussed at every Governing Body meeting.
  • The role of the Chief Assessor will include regular cross referencing of units with others in the RQF/CFQW and comparison with the requirements of other qualifications frameworks such as the EQF and the UK National Curriculum. The purpose of this work will be to ensure that the accuracy and consistency of levels and credit is in accordance with national and international standards. As described above, this will be important in the initial design of any units as well as in subsequent review.
  • The initial design of units will comply with the regulatory arrangements for design published by Ofqual. Should any errors arising from the design process arise, action will be taken in dialogue with the regulators to rectify the situation with minimum impact on learners. Procedures will be revised to ensure that the risk of any such errors is reduced in the future. Should the regulators make changes to the design requirements, TLM will make every effort to modify units to satisfy those changes as quickly as possible.
  • Feedback from staff and clients has formed an important part of the development process of TLM's assessment methods. When any new units are proposed, including the review of existing RQF/CFQW units, the views of those involved in the assessment and awarding process will be a key part of the design process.

Condition D5

On-going review

  • TLM will make available any information associated with its units and their assessment to the Regulators on request given reasonable notice. The processes used in unit development and review are defined in the procedures in 3.2 and 3.3 above. Statistics eg on take up of units, will be provided to the Regulators on request and TLM is committed to develop the technologies at its disposal to provide data and information in formats required by the Regulators subject to reasonable notice of the specific information required. At all times TLM will endeavour to reduce the administrative burdens on its clients by only requesting data that is specifically required by the regulators, over and above what is routinely provided when registering learners on the certification site. In keeping with the Data Protection Act this is kept to the minimum needed for the function of making awards.

Condition D7

On-going review

  • TLM will cooperate fully with the Regulators in modifying or withdrawing any qualifications that fail to meet the regulatory requirements. The procedure for removing a unit is to gain agreement with the Regulators, inform TLM assessors and ensure that no learners will be adversley affected by the action and then cooperate in making changes to theRQF/CFQW database as required by the Regulators. Make appropriate changes to the resources and support information on The Learning Machine's web sites.

 5 day accreditation process

1. The Governing Body delegates responsibility for  market research to the Executive. These roles have the greatest relevant connections with stakeholders and are best placed to use the information gleaned from consultation and participation in qualifications related activities to identify need and translate needs into action.There are two key aspects to market research in this field.

  • Modification of existing qualifications
  • Production of new qualifications


2. Market research informs both of these within the constraints of policies and framework regulations defined by the regulators.  In this way changes to the regulatory frameworks are part of the market and require understanding and response in the same way as response to technological change or the needs of business and industry. The Executive Board will make recommendations to the Governing Body through the CEO and Principal Moderator based on priorities and demand coming from their market research. They will also present a justification to the Executive that any proposals are financially viable and have clear evidence that they can recoup development costs in a reasonable timescale.



Return to index