Quality assurance - external (EQA)

This page covers:

  • What is external quality assurance?

  • Support for EQA 

  • Text book

  • What does the role involve? 

  • Ofqual

  • Risk ratings

  • Qualification upgrades

  • Possible risks

  • Areas where malpractice could occur in centres

  • EQA resources for immediate download

Internal quality assurance. 

What is external quality assurance (EQA)?

External quality assurance (EQA) seeks to ensure that assessment and internal quality assurance activities (IQA) have been conducted in a consistent, safe and fair manner.

The process must take place on behalf of an awarding organisation (AO) for each approved centre which offers their qualifications. This is to ensure that the learners who have been registered with them have received a quality service, and that the assessment and IQA decisions are valid and reliable. 

If you deliver and assess qualifications which are certificated via an AO, an external quality assurer will visit or carry out a remote verification activity to sample learners' work and assessment/IQA records. They will maintain their own records as proof of what they have done, and also complete the AOs report. You can work towards a qualification in EQA if you wish or take an online module as CPD.

Scroll down the page to access downloadable resources and templates for EQAs. There is also a downloadable leaflet and checklist to help centres to prepare for an EQA visit.

If you are working towards an EQA qualification, guidance for completing the units is available.

If you teach and/or assess the qualification, support materials are available and online modules.

Support for EQA

Scroll to the end of the page for downloadable EQA resources.

Text book

Just click on the book image to gain further details via Amazon. This book covers both internal and external quality assurance. #ad

What does the role involve?

External quality assurers will monitor an approved centre's processes and practices to ensure that they meet all awarding organisation, qualification and regulatory requirements. However, the EQA role is not just about ensuring compliance, it's also about supporting centre staff, and giving advice and guidance to help them improve.

It's important to keep in touch throughout the year with your EQA, and to build up a good working relationship with them. Don't wait to ask any questions or to inform them of any changes until they visit, as problems could occur in the meantime.

An EQA should be up to date with the qualification content and the requirements for teachingassessment and IQA, as well as any relevant regulations. 

It’s good practice if the EQA is also currently delivering and assessing the qualification themselves, so they can appreciate things from both sides.

Learners, when they successfully complete a qualification, will receive a certificate with the awarding organisation’s name on, as well as the centre's name. 

The EQA must therefore ensure that everything is in order, or their reputation, as well as the centre’s, could be brought into disrepute. 

Scroll to the end of the page for resources regarding EQA.


Ofqual approves and regulates awarding organisations (AOs) in England. AOs need to comply with their Online Handbook. This sets out certain conditions which AOs must ensure their centres adhere to. Examples include managing conflicts of interest, identifying and managing risk, and dealing with malpractice. Unfortunately, practice does differ between EQAs and AOs. However, at least this document goes some way to ensuring certain standards are maintained. If you work with several AOs, you may wonder why some differ and why they don’t all standardise their practice when they expect centre staff to.


Risk ratings

Risk ratings (see the table as a guide) are often used when an EQA completes their report, and sanctions are recommended if something is wrong. 

However, if you are given an action point that you do not feel is right, ask your EQA ‘where does it say that I have to do that?’ 

If it’s not written down in the qualification specification or relevant regulatory documents, it can’t be enforced. It can however be added to the report as an improvement point. 

An EQA can only recommend a sanction if things are not right, it’s the awarding organisation who will have the final say.

Qualification upgrades

If you completed the D35 or V2 External Quality Assurance Award many years ago, and you need to upgrade to demonstrate that you are now working at the current TAQA assessment and quality assurance standards, you can work through these online CPD modules.

Alternatively, you can read about upgrading your qualification, and then complete a self-assessment grid as evidence of your knowledge and practice.

Possible risks

As an external quality assurer only samples various activities, there is the possibility some aspects might be missed, however, EQAs are very thorough and often get a 'sense' of what is not right.

There are risks involved, and your EQA will take these into account when planning their sampling strategy. For example, if there is a high turnover of staff, or certificates are claimed in short periods of time.

An external quality assurer (EQA) should look out for:

(in alphabetical order)

  • appeals and complaints
  • achievement (or not) of previous action and improvement points
  • assessment methods used and types of evidence provided by learners
  • assessor expertise, knowledge and competence, whether new, experienced, qualified or working towards an assessor/IQA qualification (staff should have appropriate job descriptions and partake in CPD)
  • assessors (or teachers/trainers) who assess the same subject but with different groups of learners
  • authenticity of learners’ work
  • case-loads and pressures of work placed upon staff, for example, expected targets to be met, funding based on achievements, staff having unclear roles or a lack of training
  • changes to qualifications, standards, documents, policies and procedures, and records
  • language barriers
  • locations and distance of learners, assessors and internal quality assurers
  • numbers of learners and how quick (or how long) they take to achieve
  • possible plagiarism by learners or using artificial intelligence to create answers to questions
  • previous risk rating of the centre
  • reliability of witnesses (if used) and how they are supported
  • turnover of staff
  • type of qualification or programme being assessed: problem areas or units
  • use of appropriate holistic assessments, and recognition of prior learning 
  • whether evidence and records are manual or electronic, and how they are stored and accessed
  • whether the learners have been registered with the awarding organisation and when (an external quality assurer should not sample from a learner who is not registered).

Please remember, an EQA is there to help and support you. Never be afraid of asking them anything, either during their visit, or by getting in touch with them between visits.

If you wish to find out more about the EQA role, you can take the unit: Understanding the principles and practices of externally assuring the quality of assessment. This is a knowledge based unit for anyone who wishes to know about the theory of external quality assurance. You do not need to carry out any external quality assurance activities to achieve this unit. Online CPD modules which cover the content of the unit are available.

Areas where malpractice could occur in centres

  • an internal quality assurer overruling an assessor (perhaps due to pressures to meet targets) when the assessor did not pass the learner
  • assessment records being completed and signed when assessments did not take place
  • certificates being claimed for learners who do not exist, or who have not yet completed
  • dates of commencement and achievement not agreeing with those that the learners say, or as stated in records
  • dates on centre records not matching those when the activities took place
  • learners’ work and supporting records which are not available (or have been substituted on the day of your visit), belong to someone else, or have missing items
  • minutes of meetings being produced when they didn’t actually take place
  • signatures on documents not matching those of the people concerned
  • standardisation records being completed for activities that did not take place.

EQA resources available for immediate download

If you are working towards an EQA qualification, guidance for completing the units is available.

Checklist to help centres prepare for an EQA visit (£1.50) (Ref I9018)

4 pages of information regarding an EQA visit, along with a checklist of what to prepare in advance of the visit.


Information Leaflet - Key Concepts and Principles of External Quality Assurance (£1.50)
(Ref E9002)
6 pages covering:  •Why should EQA take place?  •The functions of EQA  • Working for an awarding organisation  •  EQA cycle  •  Key concepts of EQA  •  EQA rationale  •  Key principles of EQA  •  Role & responsibilities of an EQA  • Regulations, Policies and Procedures  • Reading list  • Website list  

Information Leaflet - Planning EQA activities (£1.50)
(Ref E9003)
7 pages covering:  • Aspects to consider when planning  • EQA strategy • Sample plans  • Managing risk  • Planning EQA activities  • Resources  • Technology  • Reading list  • Website list

Information Leaflet - Carrying out EQA activities, making decisions and giving feedback (£1.50)
(Ref E9005)
8 pages covering: • EQA activities  • Issues affecting visits  • Making a decision: observing practice, sampling assessed work, remote sampling  • Risks  • Malpractice  • Agreeing action and improvement points  • Feedback  • Different feedback methods  •  Giving feedback  • Reading list • Website list

Information Leaflet - EQA records (£1.50)

(Ref E9004) 

3 pages covering:  • Record keeping • Examples of EQA records  • Reasons for keeping EQA records  •  Data Protection  •  Confidentiality   • Reading list  • Website list

(See below for blank templates and completed examples) 

Templates – A set of EQA Records (in Word) (£3.50)
(Ref AT020)

Can be used by EQAs who do not have their own EQA record system

9 templates in Word (with instructions) which can be used by an EQA to maintain records of activities with individual centres. They can easily be amended to suit your own requirements. Includes: Centre record & contact log, Visit and sample plan, IQA observation checklist, Observation checklist - Training delivery, Observation checklist – Assessment, Assessor interview checklist, IQA interview checklist, Learner interview checklist, Witness interview checklist.  An EQA report is not included as these are issued by the relevant awarding organisation. 

Completed examples are available to purchase below Ref: E9008

Completed example of a set of EQA Records (£4.00)
(Ref E9008)

9 pages of completed examples of: Centre record & contact log, Visit and sample  plan, IQA observation checklist, Observation checklist - Training delivery, Observation checklist – Assessment, Assessor interview checklist, IQA interview checklist, Learner interview checklist, Witness interview checklist.  An EQA report is not included as these are issued by the relevant awarding organisation.

A set of blank templates in Word is available to purchase above: Ref AT020

More resources are available.

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