I’m currently completing the Level 6 OCR Careers Guidance Diploma. Like all NVQ’s, it’s a competency based qualification based on a folder of evidence you produce and collect through your working practices to fulfill both compulsory and chosen units.
Some of it so far has been very interesting, other bits have been quite testing (Unit 3 – I’m looking at you) and I can very much see the benefit of it, especially working in a school environment with young people. For those of us who work in secondary schools, there is a conflict to manage between the client centered approach of IAG and the need to encourage young people who are on the path to becoming independent but aren’t there yet.
So I thought I’d post some hints and tips for those either doing the Level 6 or thinking of embarking on it. But, these hints come with small print.
I’ve heard of other groups completing the course in 3 months. I’ve been doing it for about 12 months and I reckon I’m about halfway through. It’s taking me a loooooong time.
Bearing that in mind:
1. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security with the time needed to dedicate to the course. Competency based qualifications can sometimes be sold as, essentially, photocopying the odd bit of your regular daily paperwork and sticking it in a folder. Hey presto! Qualification!
Nope. Not like that. There’s plenty of original work that needs to be produced or harassed out of busy line managers. Make sure you’ve got the time.
(And, I know, here I am writing a blog and moaning about not having enough time. King of procrastination)
2. Prepare your key colleagues and line mangers – you will be calling on them to write witness testimony for you. Let them know requests are coming and be clear about what you want from them for each piece.
3. Unit 3 is the one with the essays. It’s a slog but one which I found more intriguing the more I read and, in the end, really had to reel myself in from writing too much and sticking pigheadedly to the style of essay writing that got me through University. On one point I had to reverse, stop what I was doing and start again because it wasn’t what our course tutor had requested and it wasn’t fulfilling the unit criteria.
4. Before you start, think through your regular month by month work activities and plan which of those will produce observation or evidence opportunities for certain modules. My academic year runs a pattern, September to December is Year 11s and college/Sixth Form/apprenticeship applications, January to March is Year 9 option choices and March through to the summer is Year 10 work experience. Think through which activities you will be running at these points and what evidence that might produce. For example, I run University awareness raising group works and trips for Year 9 in January so that would be a great observation example for Unit 12 “Assist clients to apply for learning, training and work” while Unit 7 “Work with other agencies for the benefit of the client and the organisation” would be better covered with observations of the planning meetings of our Year 11 careers fair in October.
5. Stationary is fun! Invest in a proper folder with colour coded inserts and those clear, plastic pockets – not only will it help your tutor navigate your folder to see any “stories” you want to tell but it will also help you find documents when you need to.
6. Stories – certain Units really work best by using your evidence to tell a story. I’m doing a case study for Unit 5 “Explore and agree the career guidance and development needs of clients so documents such as meeting records and emails relating to the client are very useful to lead the assessor through the procedure you followed. Using lots of different documents to tell a story can be useful for lots of different Units though, if, for example, you wrote a guidance booklet for students or a particular group of clients if would be fantastic to have emails of feedback on the booklet or evaluation sheets from clients suggesting alterations which you then acted on and the updated drafts of the booklet.
7. Don’t be scared of professional discussions. They’re a time effective way of getting across your knowledge, experience and working practices relating to the Unit so, if your course leader offers, jump at the chance and book them in early. My course tutor suggested a recorded discussion as a suitable method for evidencing Unit 1 “Preparing to work in the career information, advice and guidance sector” and it was very useful for setting out how my role fits within the wider school community. Careers workers in schools taking this qualification are each going to have slightly different duties and it’s just as valuable that the course leader has your particular situation set up to mould your folder around what you do.
As ever, if you’re taking the Level 6 qualification or thinking about it then get it touch to share your own tips!