Devising high quality assignment briefs

I would like to initially introduce this blog by giving you all some top tips with regards the delivery of BTEC Sport qualifications.


As a practitioner myself I always find that learners who enrol or select BTEC Sport qualifications expect to be studying sport and been as physically active as possible. There does some to a myth which unfortunately is been lead by teachers and centres nationwide that BTEC assessments have to be word processed and evidence which is presented needs to be in the written format.


I think that the myth has developed, as this is somewhat the easy way out at external verification. The good news is that learner evidence does not need to be just the written word and that we can be inventive in our assessment strategies to challenge learners. Although, we are required to ensure that there is evidence to support the attainment of criteria. I personally would also say that now due to the changing nature of the education system that evidence should be produced for every learner and not just a small sample.


So what does this mean?


It means that no longer can a centre produce an observation checklist to say that a learner has demonstrated the skills within a sport for example. Instead we are required to produce the observation checklist but to support this we must also ensure that there is evidence of the learner actually doing what we state on the observation checklist. In this instance the performer demonstrating the skills within the sport.


This may seem like a strenuous task which requires a lot of time and a lot of preparation but it does not need to be. In what is a forever developing technological world it is now possible for learners to carry out the recording of their performance or take photographs of themselves using smart phones or relatively cheap motion cameras. Learners can then record each other for the assessments and this can be used as evidence alongside the observation record and if appropriate witness statements.


The importance of gathering evidence is to support the process of assessment within a centre. Without evidence internally the assessment and internal verification process could not be seen to be appropriate and valid. An internal verifier would be unable to make a judgement on performance without seeing the learner complete the actual requirements of the assessment criteria. It is this which the evidence which is presented should demonstrate and not just a snap shot of the learner completing in a practical assessment. if the evidence presented fails to meet the requirements of the assessment criterion/criteria and associated unit content then the internal verifier should block the assessment decision.


It because of the requirements at internal verification and when appropriate external verification that the other assessors involved within the quality assurance process for the qualification that evidence must be submitted by all learners.


Many centres fell foul to this last year when the level 3 sport programmes were reviewed externally after the awarding body decided to complete a sample of all centres who achieved 50% or more Distinction, Distinction, Distinction grades on the National Diploma programme in June 2011.Students who were registered on BTEC programmes at level 3 were randomly sampled by a visiting standards verifier. Many centres were blocked because of a lack of evidence for some criteria. With random sampling now becoming more and more evident within standards verification sampling for QCF BTEC’s I would therefore strongly recommend that evidence is produced for all learners on all sport programmes.


Top tips – Writing Assignments – QCF BTEC


When a centre is undergoing external scrutiny often it is the assignment briefs which are the catalyst to wither a good or bad standards verification.  When developing an assignment brief please consider the following points.


Ensure that the assignment brief has all the key information present. This is the first thing which an external assessor will scrutinise. Each assignment must have the following pieces of key information:


  • Programme Title – it must correct and it must include pathways if appropriate
  • Unit Number & Unit Title
  • Hand In & Hand Out date (for next generation it must also include an interim hand in date)
  • Assessor details and internal verification details (names of each and dates of IV would be sufficient)


Remember there are different rules for the development of assignments for the next generation qualification. Upon this assignment briefs you should also include the learning aim which is been targeted (each assessment must cover at least one learning aim and the tasks within the assignments should cover all of the targeted criteria for that particular learning aim).


When you have ensured that all of the key information for your assignment brief has been included the next stage of the development process should be a vocational scenario. All BTEC assignments must have a vocational context which runs throughout the assessment. When developing an assessment it is very important that you consider the vocational scenario and context very carefully.


The scenario and context should be appropriate for the level of learner. The scenario and context should be motivational and engage the learners into the tasks. The best scenarios are those that are appropriate for the learners and revolve around their own community and or experiences.


When you have decided upon your context you must then consider what evidence the learners are going to be required to produce. Remember it is not always a requirement that learners have to describe or explain using the written word. The evidence and the context should be developed together. The scenario should paint a picture of the context but also inform the learners of what they are going to be doing in each of the tasks.

The next stage of the development of the assignments is the assessment tasks. Assessment tasks should always be contextualised to the vocational scenario. This contextualisation could be linked to the vocational context or to the evidence which is required. For example, if the learners have been asked to develop a promotional leaflet the task should clearly state which component of the leaflet they are developing the evidence for and why the evidence, which they are developing, is useful for the audience.


Assessment tasks should NOT be a direct copy of the assessment criteria. If this is the case you are likely to receive some criticism from the standards verifier. Within the tasks you can provide, for QCF BTEC assessments the tasks should include the command verb (describe/explain/analyse etc). Links can also be made within the tasks the content. It may be a requirement in some instances to ensure that the learners do not go off track with the evidence which they produce. Some centres include the content within the tasks other centres include a table at the back of the assessment. For the QCF BTEC this is acceptable, however, the rules for the new next generation BTEC are very different. For more information on how to develop a BTEC next generation assessment task please contact subject support.


Support may also be provided for the learners with regards the differentiation between describe/explain. This may include a top tip box like the one below:


TOP TIPExplain – when you are asked to explain you should describe the point and then give details and reason of why. This should include actual examples to back up your description.


These boxes could be included below each task or could be included at the end of each assessment.


It is also important that at the end of each of each task that it is clearly stated in bold or in brackets which criteria has been addressed. This only needs to be in the reference format as provided within the specification. For example (P1) or (P2, M2 & D1).


The final pages of the assessment can include lots of further support for learners. This can include the assessment criteria in full as they are stated within the unit assessment grid.


It could also include the prescribed content linked to each of the assessment criteria.


One thing which I would strongly advise that is included at the back of every assessment is a learner declaration form. These could be centre devised. Upon these learners are required to sign to declare that the work which they complete is their own. I would also suggest that upon the learner declaration form you ask learners to state which resources they have used when completing the assessment.