My working life ... Qualifications subject advisor
Monday, May 18, 2015
Developing new early years qualifications involves plenty of listening and the provision of hands-on support, Gabriella Jozwiak discovers.
Kate Elsmore is a subject advisor for early years and health and social care at awarding body Pearson. She helps develop new qualifications and supports teachers delivering Pearson courses.
'My job is different every day - I could be attending a teachers' networking event in Birmingham one day, visiting a college in Newcastle another, or be in the office.
'I look after about 40 qualifications from Level 1 to Level 5, from conception to delivery. When Pearson designs a course, I work with the qualifications development team to make sure it's rigorous and robust. I review the units to check they're subject specific and up to date with legislation.
'A recent example of this is the Early Years Educator (EYE) qualifications launched in September 2014. When it came to rewriting our existing qualification to ensure it met National College for Teaching and Leadership requirements, we didn't have to make too many changes to a course we had released in 2012. The qualifications development team produced the units and I checked they met the required criteria, although I don't give final sign off. Once the qualification was accredited by Ofqual, we released it to training centres.
'At this point, the other aspect of my work comes into force -supporting qualifications delivery. When we released the EYE in July 2014, I organised training events around the country to make sure learning providers were ready to teach the qualification and had all the information and resources they needed.
'I continue supporting training centres throughout the delivery of a course. As well as visiting centres to offer them help, I'm always available on the phone, email or over social media to answer questions. I receive up to 600 emails and up to 400 phone calls a month from teachers asking things like: "I'm teaching this unit; what do you think I should be doing?" As an ex-teacher, I provide them with ideas to deliver the qualification.
'When I visit centres, I also set up networking events with other teachers delivering early years qualifications in the area so they can share practice ideas. Speaking to people delivering the courses also helps me shape course updates. Their feedback is really important. At the moment, I'm working on updated EYE qualification specification for release in 2016.
'Because it's not possible for me to be in Newcastle one day and Cornwall the next, I use other ways to communicate with people. I hold a lot of meetings online and offer free online networking events each week. Even so, I probably travel about once a week.
'I also write a monthly email update for all training providers. I have about 6,000 on my mailing list and include whatever is going on in the sector, such as changes in curriculum or legislation, or what's new within Pearson.
'To a limited degree, I'm involved in qualifications assessment. After an exam has taken place, I support standardisation. I don't actually mark exams or portfolios of evidence - we have standards verifiers for that - but when I speak to teachers, I ask for feedback on assessment procedures so we can make improvements where necessary.
'I work normal office hours and I love being able to support teachers and networking. Early years and sharing ideas with people are my passions. I didn't do any extra training when I joined Pearson; I use the knowledge I've built up over my years in the sector. I also work alongside 11 other subject advisors who focus on other subjects and we learn from each other. Continuing professional development is important and I have to keep up with changes in the sector, and legislation.'
- 1999-2002 Claims adjuster, GAB Robins insurance agency, London
- 2002-2004 Special needs assistant, Seven Kings High School, Ilford
- 2007-2010 Senior lecturer in early years, Harlow College
- 2010-2012 Foundation degree and BA honours in early years practice lecturer, Anglia Ruskin University
- 2012-present Subject advisor for early years and health and social care, Pearson
- 1999 Foundation course in media and tourism, South Bank University, London
- 2007 BA in Early Childhood Education, University of East London
- 2008 Certificate of education, post 16 and further education qualification, Harlow College
There is no direct route to become a qualifications subject advisor. Although Ms Elsmore has an education background, she says this is unnecessary and early years experience is most important. However, subject advisors need to understand the education system, teachers' roles and what they face when delivering and assessing specifications and qualifications. Ms Elsmore recommends early years professionals interested in such a position begin by becoming moderators or standards verifiers for awarding bodies.
Information on Pearson assessment associate roles, http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/support/ support-for-you/teachers/work-with-us/roles.html
List of early years qualifications, http://www.education.gov.uk/eypqd
Federation of Awarding Bodies: http://www.awarding.org.uk/.