The premier professional qualification level 6 and the championship level 4 kicked off on time with Tree Life in the manager’s role and a good crowd through the turnstiles in attendance with 9 classes at 5 different venues around the UK and Ireland. The ball is now rolling – a little faster than we all anticipated as the workload becomes apparent to us all. Learners (the players) are having to produce work every fortnight for marking and the managers have to mark many scripts every fortnight. The learners and managers are certainly having to get their tactics right in order to complete the work as scheduled. More training instigated by the managers will be required to get learners fit for the tasks in hand.
It has been a learning curve for all us in this new division of QCF, and all involved in the process have learned so much already about the game. The lines have been drawn and we are all beginning to settle into our particular roles. The way forward has become clearer as each session passes, with the general agreement that the principles of the QCF are good, and that learning is already taking place. Some players have already scored on the learner tracking sheets demonstrating that they are on their way to achieving the goal of attaining a level 4 or 6 diploma in arboriculture.
Particularly at a higher level of the game, it is apparent that some players will take time to adjust to the quicker pace and demands of a higher division. However, that is where the learning comes in and developing the individual, ensuring that they are ready to take to the bigger stage when it comes along. The level 6 diploma is now well and truly pitched at a level 6 (equivalent to BA Hons degree) and is suitably demanding of the learners. When all aspects of their work have to pass the defensive line of the assessment criteria, it is no mean feat. There can be no half rights in this system, which does not leave room for any player to refuse to come off the bench! Every assignment has to be given maximum effort in order to keep a first team place.
The assessment procedure of submitting work on a regular basis (formative assessment) for both levels, although hard work, is the penalty paid for no final external examinations (summative assessment). The value of the formative assessment procedure lies in it being a learning activity as opposed to a test of what has been learnt across a small part of a syllabus using an unseen question. The manager’s role extends to the function of assisting the learner to know what improvements are required to their work to bring them to the standard of meeting the assessment criteria. This role has become more evident as we begin the process of evaluating learners work, in other words the quality of the feedback is paramount to the ultimate success of the learning.
It’s early days yet in the season, but I can already see the good principles of QCF taking shape in the midfield. The strategy of attacking the assessment criteria needs to be managed carefully by both sides to ensure its validity, reliability, authenticity and manageability. Having a new qualification, new surface on which to play and new squad to work with has, in my opinion, revitalised the level 6 qualification, myself as an educator and it appears the learners too. That’s a positive note on which to blow the final whistle on this blog and head for the shower.