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Counselling FAQs

Latest update 21 May 2020

 

Clinic Recap

We hosted an on-line clinic covering updates on the certification plans for those impacted by centre closures. Missed our on-line clinic or need a recap of what we covered? Please click the link below.

Counselling Clinic - 21/05/20


Our regulators have asked us to group all qualifications into three categories:

  1. Progression to HE/FE 
  2. Mixed-Use
  3. Licence to Practice/Competency-based qualifications

 

We have told our regulators that we feel that our counselling qualifications fall into either category two or three, mixed-use or licence to practice/competency-based.

For competency-based qualifications, assessments that have not yet been completed will either be adapted or delayed. As soon as we have confirmed details from our regulators, we will make direct contact with centres who have learners registered on these programmes and outline the adaptation or delay that needs to take place – this is decided by Ofqual and not individual centres. Delay to assessment may involve a rescheduled exam and/or the requirement for learners to complete the full programme and have their end date extended. This is the last resort and not an approach we would ideally be taking, but where a learner needs to evidence their competency, it would not be appropriate to apply a calculated grade.

Where a qualification is categorised as a mixed-use qualification, a calculated grade is more likely to be applied. In this case, centres will provide a predicted grade for each unit/assignment (including any exam) and will be expected to provide evidence to support their decision. 

We are aware of the current uncertainty for learners and centres and the tight deadlines involved. We will be providing an update, including details of either delayed, adapted, or calculated grades, as soon as we receive confirmed details from the regulators to allow us to move forward.

All centres were sent an update during the W/C 4 May 2020 outlining the plans for moderating and verifying achievement for the summer assessment period. Included with this was a RAG rating of potential evidence guidance document which should be used to identify the evidence your centre will have available in June to be moderated. These can also be found on our website here: COVID-19 FAQs.

All external moderation for calculated grades will be co-ordinated centrally through AIM and not directly with EV’s. This will be taking place in June/July; therefore, you will be asked to have your calculated grades for all learners/assignments available by the end of May ready to be submitted. (We are waiting for an update to the eRACs to accommodate the calculated grade option, as soon as it is completed, we will provide an update to show how to upload the eRAC). 

All external moderation for any delayed assessment will need to be applied for at the same time as the calculated grades to be approved and planned in, however it will not need to be completed until the learners are ready for certification. Further details on this will be provided once agreed by regulators.

We have also updated the FAQs below.

 

What we will do to support you

We are in weekly contact with Ofqual, our peer awarding organisations and other groups. As soon as we have more detail, we will pass it on.

We will be starting to hold drop-in clinics using GoToMeeting to keep you informed and allow you to get answers to your questions. More detail about these will follow.

Please email enquiries@aim-group.org.uk for information on the next planned clinic.

 

REMOTE TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT

Q: Should learners be continuing to work from home?
A: We appreciate that not all learners will have access to equipment or software to be able to continue with working at home and it is vital that learners in this situation are not disadvantaged. 

Any evidence learners complete at home cannot be used as evidence of a grade achieved, however it can be used to inform your assessment judgement and reinforce your decisions.

Where a calculated grade is requested, we will only be accepting learner evidence that was completed before closures on 20 March 2020 for moderation.

Whilst we won’t necessarily be using the assessment for evidence for awarding of grades, it is good practice for learners to be continuing with their studies in some form as this will help them build their portfolio for future employers or progression. It is important that where learners are progressing to the next stage of the qualification that they have the skills and knowledge to be able to cope with the next qualification. 

The exception for this will be where all of your learners are normally completing this online/remotely and you can be sure of the authenticity of the learner evidence.

Where a qualification is a delayed assessment, the evidence completed during the closure must be authenticated after closures have been lifted and can then be used.

Q: Are we okay to do our training through video conferencing for the time being? (ie Zoom/Skype)
A: Centres should ensure that where this option is proposed, all learners are able to access their training remotely and they have sufficient equipment to do so. We would advise that centres ensure that their professional body also supports this and that they adhere to guidelines regarding safeguarding and confidentiality throughout this.

Q: We are required to provide a set number of learner/tutor contact hours? (ie Guided Learning Hours to learners). Will online contact hours count towards this and still be accredited through RQF?
A: GLH delivered remotely will still count as standard GLH. Guided learning hours are a guide and do not impact on the qualification achievement of your learners however you should ensure you are meeting the requirements of your funders. 

 

DELAYED ASSESSMENT

Q: Do we have to delay the assessment?
A: No, if your learners are completing as planned and you feel they are ready for completion, they will not need any delay. If your learner still needs to take an exam on a delayed assessment programme, this will be delayed and rescheduled and you will be informed of the expected timescales as soon as we are able to do so.

 

EXTERNAL VERIFICATION

Q: Will there still be an EV for this year?
A: All evidence will be moderated and verified by the EV team at AIM. This will be managed centrally and not through your allocated EV, step by step instructions will be provided regarding what you will need to do for this. This will apply to both delayed assessment and calculated grade programmes.

For calculated grades, at present, you should be reviewing your evidence available and establishing how much falls into the Green column of your RAG rated evidence (see email sent to centres W/C 4 May 2020) and you will be asked to provide this alongside the calculated grade for all non-examined evidence and examined evidence at the end of May (this is waiting for a software update on the eRACs, as soon as it is available we will let you know).

Q: Will learner portfolios be used as evidence?
A: This question does not apply to delayed assessment programmes as the portfolios must be completed as per the specification.

For calculated grade programmes, learner generated evidence that was completed before centre closures on 20 March 2020 can be used as evidence towards both examined and non-examined assessment. This should have been subjected to the usual quality assurance activity (IQA, standardisation etc). Depending on the evidence generated, you may find it does support your calculated grades and this would be good practice to map it as additional evidence for the examined assessment.

Any learner evidence completed after 20 March 2020 cannot be used as evidence of achievement but can be used to inform your overall decision.

 

SUPERVISED PRACTICE HOURS

Q: Can learners continue to work with clients?
A: Following Government's guidance to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, we advise that, centres should consult the professional body guidance and take appropriate steps to ensure that placement agencies are in a position to manage any counselling that is still taking place safely and ethically.

Q: My professional body has stated that telephone/online sessions will count towards accreditation as long as they are sufficiently supervised. Will these count towards the 100 client hours needed for qualification?
A: Centres should consult their professional body guidance and take appropriate steps to ensure that placement agencies are able to manage any counselling that is still taking place safely and ethically. Any placement hours must be carried out with genuine clients and not be a simulation, in an appropriate setting and with appropriate clients which match the learner’s level of competence (the training provider must ensure this) and be assessed and supervised. Assuming this can be evidenced and there is agreement from both the centre and their professional body, the placement hours can be used towards the 100 hours.

Further guidance can be found from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and The National Counselling Society here:

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Guidance 
The National Counselling Society Guidance 

Q: Has the submission deadline for the Study of Supervised Practice (SSP) been extended?
A: At the moment, the summer deadline of 14 June still applies; if learners do not gain their 100 hours of counselling practice by this deadline, they can still submit their work or opt for the January series submission deadline (14 January 2021).

Q: Will the amount of supervised for the qualification be changed?
A: No, learners must complete 100 hours. The requirement of 100 hours takes into account professional counselling bodies’ requirements for the registration of counsellors.

Q: What happens if learners can't get their 100 hours of counselling practice in their placements? 
A: Learners must make alternative arrangements to enable them to complete their supervised
placement of 100 hours by following the centre's guidance (see above) or deferring the accrual of hours until social distancing measures are relaxed. Properly authenticated hours can be submitted to claim the award once all assessment has been completed. Completing assessments (eg SSP) and submitting hours do not have to be synchronous.

Q: Can learners use remote client sessions as part of the material for their coursework and submission of the ‘Study of Supervised Practice’ (including ethical dilemmas, using supervision etc) as a result of needing to moving their practice online in their placements? 
A: The placement hours can be used towards the supervision units in the same way as standard face-to-face sessions can.

 

EXTERNALLY MARKED EXAMINATIONS

EXAM EVIDENCE

Q: What type of evidence do you need aside from mock results?
A: All assessments will be being moderated at the same time therefore the exam evidence will need to be included with your assignment evidence.

Evidence that could be provided to predict the grades achieved for learners could be mock exams papers, mock exam results, standardisation records from the mock exam results, in-class assessments, your tracking data for your learners over the year, internal verification/standardisation records, IQA observations/quality focussed reports, teacher references of the learner, attendance records. You should look to build a case of evidence that shows how the learner has been progressing and achieving over the course of the programme.

Where a learner has not completed a mock but the rest of the cohort has, it is hoped that there is other evidence to show their progression compared to peers, for instance, in class tracking and feedback which would identify they are comparable to other learners of the same grade.

Where none of the cohorts have completed a mock exam, you should be looking to build evidence by looking at in-class assessments and completed tasks, it would be advisable to ensure these have been through an internal verification process. 

Where there is not sufficient evidence for a cohort or individual, we may have to refuse to award a grade, therefore, we would in the first instance, identify as much as possible that you may have available. We will then review this and highlight the areas we feel would be best to submit for moderation.

Q: We did mocks, but some learners didn't do well, what opportunities are there for a retake in September?A: Government guidance is that there will be opportunities for all to do resits in the next academic year and the planned dates for these can be found here: AIM Qualifications Exam Dates.

Q: Our qualification will be a delayed assessment, when will the rescheduled exam be?
A: Updated exam dates will be found on the AIM website, centres will also be informed directly when these are updated: AIM Qualifications Exam Dates.

 

REASONABLE ADJUSTMENT AND SPECIAL CONSIDERATION

Q: Do we need to apply for reasonable adjustment or special considerations?
A: For learners on the delayed assessment, the reasonable adjustment/special consideration process will be applied as per the usual policy. 

The process of applying calculated grades or adapting assessments are effectively AIM applying a reasonable adjustment/special consideration to the programme. At present, we do not envisage you needing to complete any reasonable adjustment or special consideration application for learners who are only requiring the calculated grade due to closures. If you have any learners who have additional extenuating circumstances that also need accommodating you should contact your named contacts at AIM for further information (your CEA or Centre Lead would be best placed to discuss this with).