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The Gateway Qualifications Centre Handbook is split into 4 categories. These categories include:

Introduction to Working with Gateway Qualifications
Quality & Compliance
Internal & External Assessment Practice
Access Arrangements, Reasonable Adjustments & Special Considerations

This Quality & Compliance section includes details of staffing requirements within a centre, and internal and external quality assurance.

The below sections expand to reveal full details and useful links that offer insight into how to best work with us.

If you print this page of the Centre Handbook, please ensure you regularly check back here to ensure you are using the most up to date version.

To print, click on the Print this page button on the right hand side of the screen.

Monitoring Quality Standards

Recognised centres must have quality management systems in place to underpin that delivery. Systems will vary between centres according to what is appropriate in a particular situation. Practices that work in a large centre will not necessarily work in a small one. Also, an employer-based provider may have different requirements from a college. Whatever the situation, Gateway Qualifications has two key requirements:

  • There must be an appropriate system in place.
  • There must be evidence that it is implemented effectively.

‘Quality management system’ is an umbrella term that includes a number of key aspects of the way that a centre is run.  Within the context of delivery, this will include:

  • Assessment practice.
  • Internal quality assurance systems.
  • Direct claims status.
  • Standardisation.

The quality management system of a recognised centre must deliver the following outcomes:

  • A team of well-informed committed and supported Tutor/Assessors, sufficient in number for the planned provision.
  • Adequate resources to support learners’ study.
  • Guidance and support for learners and provision for individual needs.
  • Equal opportunities in practice that help to maximise the participation of learners.
  • Assessment procedures which are inclusive and offer participation, equity and reliable standardisation.
  • Systems which provide efficient recording and evaluation.
  • Real progression routes for learners, and preparation for work and/or further study including confidence-building and basic/functional skills achievements.
Staffing Requirements - Qualification Specific Roles

It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure that only staff with relevant expertise and occupational experience are used in the delivery, assessment and internal quality assurance processes, in accordance with specified vocational experience/qualification requirements as set out in the published qualification specification.

Centres must provide staffing details including name, evidence of experience and qualifications such as a CV and certifications as part of the qualification approval process for all levels.


It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure that only staff with relevant expertise and occupational experience are used in the delivery, assessment and internal quality assurance processes, in accordance with specified vocational experience/qualification requirements as set out in the published qualification specification.

Tutors/Assessors are responsible for:

  • Undertaking initial assessments to assess a learner’s readiness for their chosen course and guiding them to the right level of course
  • Delivering the underpinning knowledge and skills required for learners to successfully complete assessments for the qualifications they are delivering
  • Identifying when learners are ready to take assessments
  • Ensuring that appropriate supervision arrangements are made
  • Ensuring all learners have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities
  • Ensuring the security of the assessment before, during and after the assessment (where applicable)
  • Carrying out the assessment of learners in accordance with guidance published in the associated qualification specification
  • Identifying where learners may be entitled to and benefit from a reasonable adjustment
  • Marking assessments tasks (where applicable)
  • Participating in internal standardisation exercises
  • Authenticating learner’s assessment evidence
  • Maintaining accurate and verifiable learner records.
Internal Quality Assurer (IQA)

It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure that only staff with relevant expertise and occupational experience are used in the delivery, assessment and internal quality assurance processes, in accordance with specified vocational experience/qualification requirements as set out in the published qualification specification.

The role of the Internal Quality Assurer is to ensure that:

  • Assessment marking within the centre is carried out in line with Gateway Qualifications’ requirements
  • Assessment setting and marking is appropriate, consistent, fair and transparent and does not discriminate against any learner
  • Tutors/Assessors receive on-going advice and support, for example, in contextualising assessments
  • Learners clearly understand assessment requirements and are given opportunities to achieve against the assessment criteria
  • Learners’ work is presented in a manner that enables effective internal and external quality assurance to take place
  • Evidence of learner achievement is clearly mapped to the assessment criteria
  • Identifying where learners may be entitled to and benefit from a reasonable adjustment
  • Certification claims are valid, reliable and consistent.

Internal Quality Assurers in addition to being Tutors/Assessors will have knowledge and experience of carrying out internal quality assurance/verification and will ideally hold a recognised internal quality assurance/verification qualification or be working towards one, examples as follows:

  • D34 qualification.
  • V1 qualification.
  • Internal Verifier Award.
  • Internal Verification of Credit Based Learning: Continuing Professional Development for Practitioners Award.
  • Level 4 Award in the Internal Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice.
  • Level 4 Certificate in Leading the Internal Quality Assurance of Assessment Processes and Practice.
  • L4 TAQA.
Lead Internal Quality Assurer (Lead IQA)

It is the centre’s responsibility to ensure that only staff with relevant expertise and occupational experience are used in the delivery, assessment and internal quality assurance processes, in accordance with specified vocational experience/qualification requirements as set out in the published qualification specification.

In a large, multi-site centre it may not be feasible for a single IQA to quality assure all qualifications. In this case, it is acceptable to appoint a Lead IQA. The Lead IQA is responsible for working closely with the IQAs to apply assessment requirements consistently across the sites.

The role of the Lead Internal Quality Assurer is to ensure that:

  • Ensure consistent standardisation and sampling is occurring across the centre
  • Check each IQA’s marking and sampling and address any issues if there are discrepancies
  • Monitor outcomes from each IQA’s standardisation and sampling activities
  • Ensure standardisation and sampling records are kept and made available to Gateway Qualifications if required.
Internal Quality Assurance

Internal quality assurance is the process by which a centre regularly samples and evaluates its assessment practices and decisions, and acts on the findings to ensure consistency and fairness. It involves two key processes – internal quality assurance and standardisation – and is carried out by one or more internal quality assurers.

The internal quality assurance system developed by centres will depend on the size and extent of the qualifications delivered. Centres will need to set out their internal quality assurance systems within a centre internal quality assurance plan.

The role of the internal quality assurer is to ensure that:

  • Assessment is appropriate, consistent, fair and transparent and does not unintentionally discriminate against any learner.
  • Tutors/assessors receive on-going advice and support, for example in designing assessment activities.
  • Learners clearly understand assessment requirements and are given opportunities to achieve against the assessment criteria.
  • Learners’ work is presented in a manner that enables effective internal quality assurance to take place.
  • Evidence of learner achievement is clearly mapped to the assessment criteria.
  • Reports of Achievement or Completion (RACs) are valid, reliable and consistent.

Internal quality assurance arrangements must include as a minimum:

  • An identified individual responsible for coordinating the internal quality assurance process.
  • A planned structure for internal quality assurance that incorporates all of a centre’s Gateway Qualifications provision.
  • An agreed and published annual timetable for internal quality assurance, including internal quality assurance meetings.
  • Clear and documented roles and responsibilities for all those involved.
  • A forum for discussion of borderline cases and good practice in assessment.
  • A sampling of assessed work.
  • Standardisation of assessed work.
  • Full and clear records of the internal quality assurance process, including action plans.
  • Regular evaluation of the process and outcomes.

An Internal Quality Assurer, therefore, has a central role in the operation of the centre’s quality system. A centre may have one or more Internal Quality Assurers, according to the size and variety of its provision. All must have experience relevant to the area(s) for which they quality assure. They should also have an understanding of quality assurance and improvement, and the centre must ensure that they develop their practice in this field.

To ensure the integrity of the internal quality assurance process, Internal Quality Assurers must not verify work that they have assessed.

Gateway Qualifications External Quality Assurers will review the operation of a centre’s internal quality assurance system through centre quality monitoring visits.

Once a course has been internally quality assured, there are two possible paths to the RAC:

  1. Direct Claim Status.
  2. An External Quality Assurer signs off the RAC.

Sampling is a key element of the internal quality assurance process whereby the IQA:

  • checks the quality and consistency of each Tutor/Assessors marking
  • maintains a common standard of marking within the centre over time.
Record Keeping

The IQA must keep records of the sampling undertaken for each Tutor/Assessor using the Centres own forms or the Gateway Qualifications internal sampling form.

This will aid the identification of marking trends and inform the selection of samples on an on-going basis. Sampling forms must be stored securely within the centre and be made available to Gateway Qualifications as part of the centre compliance monitoring if requested. These records should be kept for three years.

Selecting the sample

Selecting an appropriate sample is critical to successful internal quality assurance. There are a range of factors which will influence the selection of samples:

  • The experience and expertise of the assessor
  • The number of learners in the class
  • The method of assessment
  • The range of assessments
  • The outcomes from standardisation activities
Feedback to Tutor/Assessors

The IQA should feedback the results of the sampling to each Tutor/Assessor.

Internal Standardisation

Internal standardisation is a collaborative process by which Tutor/Assessors within a centre consider work that they have marked and, using pre-determined criteria, reach a common agreement on standards as being typical of work at a particular level by comparing samples and providing peer evaluation.

Internal standardisation is a crucial stage in the quality assurance process. Internal standardisation enables all IQAs and Tutor/Assessors to understand and apply the qualification standards fairly and consistently across the centres. Internal standardisation should not be viewed as a single activity but a series of ongoing activities within a centre to support consistent understanding and application of the standards.

There are different ways of approaching internal standardisation. The frequency and types of internal standardisation activities will depend on the number of learners and the frequency of the assessment sessions in a centre.  It is the responsibility of the IQA to determine and justify the fitness for purpose of standardisation approach. Records of the standardisation activities must be kept and made available to Gateway Qualification as part of the annual monitoring visit.

If a Lead IQA has been appointed within a centre, they must make arrangements for the internal standardisation of all IQAs. This should be carried out in a timely manner ahead of the internal standardisation of Tutor/Assessors in order to establish a consistent interpretation of the standards and ensure a common standard is applied across the centre.

A commonly used internal standardisation approach is for the IQA to hold a team standardisation event. This is an opportunity to:

  • Consolidate assessors’ understanding of the standards
  • Identify any challenges Tutor/Assessors experienced
  • Resolve any outstanding questions, contacting Gateway Qualifications directly for advice if required.
External Centre Monitoring

Gateway Qualifications will allocate a named External Quality Assurer to your centre. This person is responsible for ensuring that your internal quality assurance systems meet the requirements set out by Gateway Qualifications.

Quality Monitoring of a New Centre

As part of the centre recognition approval process, the External Quality Assurer will contact your centre to arrange an initial visit. The focus of this visit will be to identify any areas that do not meet the requirements of centre recognition.

During the visit, the External Quality Assurer will identify any areas where further work is needed and agree actions that need to be undertaken. The actions will be sent to your centre’s Quality Assurance contact.

Quality Monitoring of Recognised Centres

The External Quality Assurer will arrange on-going quality monitoring visits to all recognised centres. These visits will:

  • Monitor the centre’s compliance with the centre recognition terms and conditions by reviewing course documentation and meeting managers and centre staff.
  • Identify any staff development needs.
  • Ensure that all procedures are being complied with, through an audit trail, and make sure that the award of qualifications to learners is secure.
  • Review the practice of Approved Internal Quality Assurers to ensure that the awards are secure.

On an External Quality Assurer visit, they will sample a minimum of 5 portfolios per qualification.  If there are less than 10 registrations on a qualification, then all registrations may be reviewed. The External Quality Assurer will sample all tutors and Internal Quality Assurers on a visit.  If a centre delivers on more than one site, then each site will need to be sampled to make sure of consistency of delivery.

After each monitoring visit, we will produce a centre quality monitoring report setting out agreed action points with deadlines, which the External Quality Assurer will monitor the progress and completion of. A copy will be sent to the centre Quality nominee for reference.

The frequency of quality monitoring will be determined by factors including:

  • The number and type of actions agreed.
  • Volume.
  • Type of qualifications offered.
Direct Claim Status

Direct Claim Status (DCS) is the process whereby centres are able to claim certification without EQA activity, if permitted within the qualification specification. Further information can be found on our Direct Claim Status page.

Recognition of Prior Learning (Ofqual and Qualification Wales)

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) provides learners and Centres with an alternative assessment method by which a learner’s previous achievements can meet the assessment requirements for a unit/qualification through the knowledge, understanding or skills that they already possess and so, do not need to develop these through a course of learning.  This includes both certificated learning attained through a Gateway Qualifications’ regulated qualification and other experiential/certificated learning.

Details of whether RPL is permitted for a qualification are contained within the published qualification specification.  Please note Gateway Qualifications does not permit RPL for all qualifications.

In considering Recognition of Prior Learning, centres should:

  1. Check Qualification Specifications to ascertain if RPL is permitted
  2. Follow the process for claiming RPL as set out in the Gateway Qualifications’ Recognition of Prior Learning Policy and Process .

Centres must have a process to assess claims before submitting requests to Gateway Qualifications.

When Centres identify learners with potential RPL they must request this through completing an online RPL form in the Prism system.  Where a centre does not give prior notification that RPL has been used as an alternative then this will be investigated by the EQA and recorded in the EQA monitoring/sampling report.

If you have any further questions about Recognition of Prior Learning, please email quality@gatewayqualifications.org.uk

Retaining Learners’ Evidence

The retention of learners’ work by recognised centres will assist the development of consistency of centre quality management systems.

The regulatory arrangements place the emphasis on awarding organisations to retain samples of learners’ work to ensure year-on-year monitoring of standards in respect of regulated qualifications.

Gateway Qualifications achieves this through the annual cycle of standardisation for regulated qualifications supported by the on-going quality monitoring and external quality assurance processes.

Centres will need to retain samples of learners’ work, as part of their internal quality management process:

  • To ensure year-on-year monitoring of standards of assessment.
  • Used in the induction of new assessors.
  • The development of existing assessors.
  • To provide an understanding of the requirements at different levels.
  • To be incorporated into centre standardisation of assessment meetings.

The result will be a representative sample of learners’ work which is retained in the year following certification. It is recommended that the sample of retained learners work and all standardisation meeting minutes be kept for a rolling three-year period.

In developing the strategy for retaining learners’ work the following factors will need to be incorporated:

  • Samples retained from the range of programmes delivered within the centre.
  • Samples retained at the levels delivered within the centre.
  • Samples retained to include all assessors.
  • Samples retained to include the assessment methodologies used.

Samples should show examples of top, middle and bottom within a level.

The factors that will constrain the size of the retained sample

  • Availability of storage space.
  • The frequency of change of assessors.

A justification of why the sample is retained should be clearly referenced, with the sample to include:

  • Unit of assessment.
  • Assessment task.
  • Learner’s work.
  • Tutor feedback. 


Learner Records

Recognised centres are required to retain records for a period of three years, from the end of the year that they relate to.


Appeals may be made in relation to:

  • the results of assessments
  • decisions regarding Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration, or
  • decisions relating to any action to be taken against a Learner or a Centre following an investigation into malpractice or maladministration, or
  • where evidence suggests Gateway Qualifications did not apply procedures consistently, or that procedures were not followed properly and fairly.

Learners who wish to appeal about their assessment results or a decision affecting their learning should either be supported by their Centre or should have exhausted their Centre’s own appeals process before appealing to Gateway Qualifications. In the latter case, learners must provide Gateway Qualifications with evidence that they have first appealed to their Centre.

Centres and Learners should refer to the Appeals policy that includes the process to be followed.

For learners who wish to appeal about their Access to HE assessment results or
decisions affecting their learning, they should refer to the Access to HE Diploma
Learner Appeals Policy.

Conflicts of Interest

Generally, conflicts of interest exist where an organisation, or an individual has competing interests which might impair its or their ability to make objective, unbiased decisions.

Gateway Qualifications recognises that the identification, management and mitigation of conflicts of interest is therefore an important control mechanism to support good decision making.

Management of conflicts of interest can also reduce risks at strategic and operational levels, heighten awareness of potential conflicts and associated risks and promote good management and organisational practices.

Further guidance for Centres can be found in our Centre Guidance for Conflicts of Interest and in our Conflicts of Interest Policy.

Malpractice and Maladministration

Definitions and meaning

Malpractice means any act, default or practice which is a breach of the Regulations or which:

  • gives rise to prejudice to learners; and/or
  • compromises public confidence in qualifications; and/or
  • compromises, attempts to compromise or may compromise the process of assessment, the integrity of any qualifications or the validity of a result or certificate; and/or
  • damages the authority, reputation or credibility of Gateway Qualifications, or a Recognised Centre, or any officer, employee or agent of Gateway Qualifications, or a Recognised Centre.
  • any act, default or practice that is deliberate, where there is intention to breach regulations, prejudice learners, or where it causes any of the above effects.

Also, malpractice includes where a Recognised Centre fails to

  • notify, investigate and report to any allegation of malpractice, or suspected malpractice, or
  • take action as required by Gateway Qualifications, as per our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.

Maladministration will generally cover mistakes or poor process where there has been no intention to do any harm.

Malpractice and maladministration are distinct, however, the two concepts can be on a spectrum and can shade into one another.

Centre staff should be familiar with the contents of Gateway Qualifications Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.

Reporting and investigating

At the soonest opportunity please make sure you report any suspected or actual malpractice or maladministration.

Please complete this form to report a suspected malpractice/maladministration incident.

Preventing malpractice – some top tips

There are several things you can do to help prevent malpractice, here’s some tips (non-exhaustive):

  • Make sure all staff, including admin staff and part-time staff understand what malpractice is, and who to report any suspicions to.
  • Get all staff to read our malpractice and maladministration policy.
  • Have your malpractice policy and procedure as part of staff induction and on-going refresher training.
  • Talk about malpractice rather than hide it like a bad smell! Share examples of malpractice that you have heard about or read about. Better understanding of malpractice will help others to spot or stop the potential for malpractice occurring.
  • Remind tutors and assessors that over-helping learners can also constitute malpractice.
  • Make sure relevant staff fully understand the rules for running any externally set tests.
  • Get staff to help with identifying risks, where there is potential for malpractice.
  • Encourage tutors to familiarise themselves with learners’ style of work, writing style and abilities to be able to authenticate the individual learner’s work.
  • Help learners through induction to understand the potential consequences of malpractice in their work and explain the need for authentic work and not to copy or cheat in any way.

Sanctions may be imposed on a centre where, for example, we have concerns about the quality of delivery or quality assurance of its qualifications, poor Centre administration or management concerns arise, or there is an allegation or finding of malpractice or maladministration.

Further information can be found in the Gateway Qualifications Sanctions Policy

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