Strategy procedure

The signatures below certify that this Sampling Strategy Policy has been reviewed and accepted, and demonstrates that the signatories are aware of all the requirements contained herein and are committed to ensuring their provision.

Prepared by:

Name: Sonja Morris

Position: Apprenticeship Coordinator

Date: 21/07/2019

Approved by:

Name: Andy Frost

Position: Managing Director

Date: 21/07/2019

Reviewed by:

Name: Stuart McDonagh

Position: IQA

Date: 21/07/2019

This Sampling Strategy Policy is reviewed to ensure its continuing relevance to the systems and process that it describes. A record of contextual additions or omissions is given below:

Page No:




The electronic version of this document is the latest revision. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that any paper material is the current revision. The printed version of this manual is uncontrolled, except when provided with a document number in the field below:
Document No

Document No:


Uncontrolled Copy: Uncontrolled

Controlled Copy:




The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the quality expectations of our awarding organisation are met and documents which support the course strand of our business are issued and maintained under controlled conditions. Quality assurance is critical to the success of vocational qualification delivery and this policy forms an important part of our overall Quality Management System.


Standard / Title & Description / Clause

ISO 9001:2015 / Quality management components / 7.3.5

SFJ Awards / SFJ Awards Centre Handbook / 8.2

NVQ Code of Practice 2006 / Qualifications and Curriculum Authority / Regulatory requirements for the delivery of vocational qualifications

Regulatory Arrangements 2008 / Regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework / Implementation of the QCF framework in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Joint Awarding Body Guidance / Joint Awarding Body guidance on Internal Verification of NVQs / Code of practice for Internal Quality Assurance

Federation of Awarding Bodies / Additional requirements for qualifications that use the title NVQ within the QCF September 2009 / Guidance to all awarding organisations

Sector Skills Council / Sector Skills Council Assessment Strategies / Guidance on the delivery of qualifications


Term / Definition

Document / Information and its supporting medium

Procedure / Specified way to carry out an activity or a process

Record / Document stating results or evidence of activities performed

The Sampling Strategy is designed to ensure the programmes delivered by Merlin Supply Chain Solutions are internally quality assured in accordance with the requirements of the awarding organisation. This strategy provides a common approach to assessment and outlines how verification decisions across programmes are to be recorded.


5.1 The Internal Verifier is responsible for:

  • Supporting the assessment team.
    Verifying portfolios using formative and summative verification.
    Monitoring assessment practice. This is achieved primarily through observing how assessors plan the assessment, judge the evidence, question the learners and give clear and constructive feedback, both oral and written.
    Ensuring sampling is a planned activity which drives the qualification programme and monitors learner performance, therefore sampling plans are to be produced by IQAs and retained for external audit for a period of 3 years.
    Ensuring Internal Verification occurs throughout the whole assessment process and not just at the end. It is not the best use of resources to verify every single assessment, therefore the sampling regime will account for assessor ability and programme requirements.
    Ensuring assessors are trained, competent and qualified.
    Checking CVs, copies of appropriate certificates and CPD records of assessors working in their Areas of Responsibilities (AORs) are held to ensure they are suitability qualified to assess the relevant sector’s WBL programme.

5.2 The Managing Director is responsible for:

  • The process and to ensure it remains aligned to the needs of both awarding organisations and ISO 9001 standards.
    The quality driven approach which underpins all programme delivery.
    Auditing the quality of assessment/verification activities and monitoring implementation of the strategy.
    Ensuring the company complies with all regulatory requirements for the delivery of WBL programmes.
    Maintaining and monitoring arrangements for the awarding organisation that assessment and verification practice meets the national occupational standards.
    Adopting the role of Head of Centre maintaining and monitoring arrangements for the awarding organisation to ensure that centre recognition criteria are met.
    CVs, copies of appropriate certificates and CPD records of Internal Quality Assurance staff are held to ensure they are suitability qualified to verify the sector’s WBL programme.

6. Merlin Supply Chain Solutions Work Based Learning Programme Delivery
This sampling strategy has been authorised to be used in support of the following WBL programmes (QCF).

Qualification Title:


Qualification Specification


Qualification Specification


Qualification Specification


Qualification Specification


Qualification Specification


As per course content

6.1 Sampling Strategy against Assessor
IQAs will monitor the assessment decisions of all the assessors by observing practice and sampling assessment decisions. They will also ensure learners are being treated fairly in accordance with the organisation’s equality and diversity policy and ensure learners have equal and fair access to assessment at all times.

Each assessor’s decisions will be sampled on an ongoing risk-rated basis to standardise practice. This will cover:

  • The initial stage of assessment of the learners programme.
    Interim stages throughout the programme.
    After observation of assessment performance against the standards has taken place, ensuring consistency in completion.

6.2 Evidence Checking Arrangements for Trainee Assessors/Trainee IQAs
The Federation of Awarding Bodies additional requirements for qualifications that use the title NVQ within the QCF dated September 2009 stipulate ‘All assessment decisions made by a trainee assessor must be checked by a qualified assessor or an assessor recognised by an awarding organisation’. To comply with this requirement, Merlin Supply Chain Solutions trainee assessors will request a ‘counter signature’ from a qualified assessor after each candidate visit or assessment of evidence. The qualified assessor will check and sign all assessed evidence to confirm the Validity, Authenticity, Currency, Reliability and Sufficiency (VACRS). Trainee assessors will be allocated a qualified assessor by the IQA responsible for the programme. Trainee IQAs will be allocated a mentor and experienced IQA to ‘check’ all sampling decisions. This check will be confirmed through countersigning of trainee IQA judgements. The trainee assessor & IQA will have a plan overseen by the centre to achieve the relevant award in an agreed timescale.

6.3 Monitoring Assessor Performance
From monitoring records, IQAs will observe assessors’ performance (CSOPF01-6) directly or through evidence gathered and grade each assessor’s performance as guidance for drawing up the next period’s sampling strategy. A period (changed at any time) is determined by assessor performance across the specific programme. An assessor could be graded differently across varying programmes based on the following guidance:

Performance will be monitored in the following way:

  • Red = trainee assessor/working towards, on company probation, frequent actions identified on sampling/unsafe decisions identified by the SV.
    Amber = qualified assessor/low case load, new to centre/newly qualified assessor, new qualification for assessor, few actions identified on sampling, not meeting assessment targets.
    Green = experienced, qualified assessor, rare actions identified on sampling.
    Additional Considerations = IQAs may wish to consider if other factors may affect assessment risk. Areas to be considered:

6.3.1 Monitoring

  • Success Rate – overall/timely
    Number of missed visits
    Number of early leavers

6.3.2 Compliance

  • On-Programme Reviews completed – if required
    Learner start rejections
    Quality of learner paperwork

6.3.3 Quality

  • Number of deferred qualifications
    Quality of IQA observations in the workplace
    Learner feedback

Identification of risk is critical to the quality which enshrines the company’s approach to work based learning programmes. All assessors are to be risk rated in accordance with the specification of the qualification to be delivered. Risk ratings should fluctuate and reflect assessor performance/competence on a particular programme.

7. Grading Assessors
Each assessor will be given copies of the IQA report and the opportunity to respond, even if feedback is given verbally.
Learners will be interviewed after each IV observation of practice, and further telephone interviews will be conducted if there are issues raised that give cause for concern.

7.1 Sampling Rationale
A rationale for sampling is a method used to explain reasons for sampling and for conducting quality assurance in a certain way. Sampling should focus primarily on assessor performance which will allow for grading of assessors according to ability, case load and experience.
Other areas of potential risk which you may wish to incorporate in your sampling criteria are:

  • An employer has a high leaver rate and/or is unwilling to engage with the qualification process. Their learners are at higher risk: the assessor would need to visit more and the IQA would need to sample the workplace more often.
    A new unit has just been introduced into one of the qualifications and you have a cohort of learners for whom achievement is already a problem. Here you may decide to increase sampling frequency of assessment and review across the cohort.
    You have just introduced a new evidence gathering method (e.g. discussion) across a number of units. You could sample by observing all assessors carrying this out in practice.

Sampling will be conducted under the following risk ratings. It is important to note this can be raised if any of the additional factors highlighted above are to be considered; but cannot be lowered without the express permission of the Managing Director, unless the criteria for each risk band has been met. The sampling plan is to be amended when a risk rating changes (changes of risk rating are to be recorded in the comments box). Merlin Supply chain Solutions WBL programmes are high level and low volume. Sampling should be conducted as shown:

Assessor Risk Rating – Red

100% of an assessor’s cohort, all units at interim and summative stages. Assessor observation conducted monthly.

Assessor Risk Rating – Amber

80% of an assessor’s cohort, all units at interim and summative stages and a 6-monthly observation. The remainder of the cohort are to have a quality check at the summative stage.

Assessor Risk Rating – Green

50% of an assessor’s cohort, all units at interim and summative stages and a minimum of one observation annually. The remainder of the cohort are to have a quality check at the summative stage.

Although the above cohort ratios are to be adhered to, IQAs must ensure all units in the qualification are covered by each assessor over the length of the programme. If you are in doubt the ratio is not adequate it should be discussed with the Training Director.

Cohort is a term used to define a ‘band of associates’. Learners should be placed into a cohort once they are enrolled onto a WBL programme. They can be categorised by company, geographic location, experience, employment status (part-time, volunteer etc.). This will allow IQAs to identify which learners will be sampled and which will have a quality check conducted.

7.2 Quality Check is a process which will be applied to all learners in all cohorts who are not identified for sampling at the interim or summative stage. A quality check consists of a look at the portfolio to confirm all required paperwork and evidence is evident, including a learner declaration confirming the work is their own. This is not a detailed unit portfolio check, but the internal quality assurer must raise an internal quality assurance report confirming certification can be applied for. A maximum of six learners can be recorded on the report.

8. Learner Declaration
Summative internal verification prior to presentation to the EQA will be conducted. To ensure the needs of the awarding organisation are met the following items are included:

A list of assessment decisions shown on the Individual Learner Record (ILR).
A declaration signed (via signature or email address) by the assessor and learner, (There is no requirement for all evidence and reports to be signed individually). The declaration (contained within the learner record) outlines the assessment process was conducted within the guidelines and specifications of the assessment strategy.

9. Internal Standardisation Activities and Meetings
Internal verification will comprise of live activities as well as meetings. The results of these will be used to standardise practice and will include:

Observation of assessment.
Asking individual assessors to cover an assessment topic at meetings to contribute towards the team’s CPD and aid consistency of practice.
Involving assessors in the self-assessment process.
Interviews with learners and providing results of these to the General Manager.
A buddy system for pairing experienced with inexperienced assessors.
Peer observations.

The IQA will hold a standardisation meeting dependent on the requirements of the specific programme. It is envisaged with low volume programmes and highly experienced assessors standardisation will predominantly take place electronically. These will be based on the risks identified through observation of assessment practice, monitoring decisions, industry developments, awarding organisation feedback and staff changes (if any). Meetings will aim to:

Share good practice.
Improve team performance.
Develop skills.
Compare results of assessor observations and standardise practice.
Give feedback on the progress of new assessors.
Review assessment decisions of assessors to ensure consistency.
Standardise the use of different assessment methods.
Standardise practice across programmes.

10. Documentation
IQAs will complete assessor risk rating by Red, Amber & Green (RAG) for all of their programmes and record it on the sampling plan.

10. 1 IQA Activity will:

Enforce this IQA Sampling Strategy.
Ensure assessment decisions for each qualification will be sampled in-line with the risk rating relevant to the programme sampling strategy.
Ensure new and trainee assessors are sampled as required in-line with the risk rating
Ensure qualified assessors are sampled in accordance with their risk rating and programme sampling strategy.

To enable the IQA to monitor and quality assure the assessment process the following documents will be used:

Sampling Plan

Observation of assessment practice report
Internal Quality Assurance report
Learner interview report
Assessor CPD records

A copy of all assessor relevant documentation is to be made available to the General Manager for appraisal purposes when requested. These are important documents and will reflect job role and performance, it is critical they are managed effectively.

A.1 Abbreviations & Acronyms
The following abbreviations and acronyms apply to this document:

WBL: Work Based Learning

IQA: Internal Quality Assurance

EQA: External Quality Assurance

QCF: Qualifications and Credit Framework

CPD: Continuous Professional Development