We caught up with Cheryl Leadbeater, who is based in Bedfordshire and works as one of our assessors, to see what a typical working day looks like for her.
7am - A typical day will start off with a cup of tea and checking the phone for any messages or emails that would need responding to or appointments that have been cancelled.
Each day is different depending on which setting is being visited. After my drink, I will usually switch the laptop on, ensure I have observation plans printed ready or exam invigilation paperwork ready and exams downloaded. I also check that the Dictaphone is ready and has spare batteries.
8.30am - If the setting is quite a long drive away then my son will be driven to school, so we’re out the house by 8:30am at the latest. I drop him to school, ensuring the Sat Nav is programmed with the setting address. I also make a note of the distance to be travelled and make sure I have the setting phone number to hand, in case of any unexpected delays.
9.30 am - On a good day, the setting I am visiting will only be an hour’s drive away, the roads will be clear and I will arrive on time. Once at the setting, I normally have a quick catch up with the learner, ensure they have gone over their plans and they know what they are doing. I like to put them at ease and remind them that they are doing a really good job and if things don’t go according to the plan, criteria can still be covered.
9.45am - Once a learner observation begins, I start talking into the Dictaphone, recording everything I see and hear the learner do. I will also ask them spot questions as to why they are doing certain activities, for instance, cleaning the table with anti-bacterial spray.
10.45am - After a good hour, the observation is complete, so I find a quiet area to give feedback to the learner, asking them how they feel the session went. I will also point out areas that perhaps could have been carried out in a slightly different way, but at the same time pointing out areas that were really good.
11am - I then switch on the trusty laptop so I can see where the learner is with regards to their course work, guide them on any areas that they are stuck on and look at the next lot of work that will be set. I will also discuss with them what they have learnt already and how it has altered their working practice.
Together, we will have a look at how they have been using the resources for their functional skills and how they have been using those skills on a daily basis.
11.25am - Just before it is almost time to leave the setting, I will make sure the next visit is booked in with both the learner and the manager. Then, I head back to my car, unless I have a second or even third learner at the same setting, in which case I would carry out the same procedure for each person.
11.30 am - If the next learner for the day is at a different setting then I reset the Sat Nav with the next location in my car and again keep my fingers crossed that there will be no hold ups on the road. My second setting is over an hour’s drive away so I am constantly checking the time as I go, sipping a take away cup of tea.
12.40pm - I arrive at the setting and the manager greets me with the news that the learner is actually off sick that day, full of apologies as they thought the learner had contacted me. Back to the car I go and reset the Sat Nav for the journey home.
2.05pm - Once home, after almost an hour and a half’s drive, I generally pop the kettle on and have a well-earned brew. I remove my laptop from my bag, plug it in and switch on. I then send an email to the absent learner to check that they are OK, but also reminding them that they need to let me know beforehand if they are absent to save a wasted journey.
2.20pm - So is it feet up time? No! I will then upload observations that were carried out, reply to any emails that have come in and start marking work that is waiting. I will also set more plans for the learners, and take phone calls and text messages from learners that want some advice and guidance.
Before you even realise it the day has ticked away, and 5:30 has come and gone!
Being an assessor doesn’t just involve visiting learners in different settings, as Cheryl explains here...
“An admin day can be different, it will normally still start around the same time, but I don’t have the pre-rush in the morning. Admin days are also an ideal time to catch up with the learners that are perhaps not sending work in as expected and require some assistance but don’t want to admit it.
“It’s also a good time to carry out telephone discussions with learners that feel talking through their criteria is a little easier.
“Admin days are also an ideal time to book in exams that are due to be sat by the learners. Depending on the time of the month, I will also fill out management reports or expenses and log all those miles I have covered in the car.”
So, what are the best bits about being an assessor?
Cheryl says “The great thing about being an assessor is that no two days are ever the same. You just don’t know how the day is going to go when you wake up in the morning.”
She continues: “All in all, there are lots of positives to being an assessor; you can share the knowledge and experience you have gained over the years and guide all these new learners along the right path.
“You also observe learners grow as they progress through their course and are rewarded with the look on their faces when you give them the news that they have passed exams or reached the end of their course. “
Are there any downsides to being an assessor?
“There is lots of paper work involved in this job, but so long as you keep on top of it then it will not become an issue.” Cheryl says.
Would Cheryl recommend the job to others?
“Yes! The drive can be long, but the reward is as great for me as when you are working directly with the children themselves. You are helping these children by training future practitioners to be the best they can be.”