Fitness Education

What is an IQA?

A very common question I get asked when talking to start up training providers is ‘What is an IQA’?  The tutor and assessor roles are pretty easy to grasp… the IQA on the other hand is a bit of a more of a complex role. 

So in this (what I hope to be) quick article I am going to try and work through some of the key roles that an IQA does within a centre. 

So first off what does IQA stand for? Well it is Internal Quality Assurer, the new name for an IV or Internal Verifier.  So the clue is in the name really as to what this role involves.  The key focus is to ensure that levels of quality as set by external regulators are being met.  For most fitness IQA’s these are mainly the awarding bodies, but also may include Ofsted and ultimately Ofqual. 

As an Internal Quality Assurer (IQA) you tend to wear many hats.  This depends on the needs of the organisation, in smaller training organisations this may be a part-time role or part of a larger role.  Where as in larger organisations there is likely to be a larger quality team with the IQA being a part of this. 

Here are some of the key roles that an IQA or internal quality assurer takes on:

Support – they should support the teams in terms of understanding criteria, marking correct assessment decisions and improving assessment practice.  Thankfully this is now more widely accepted as part of the role and most IQA seek to support rather than judge.  A simple way to look at this is the IQA is generally the voice of experience to guide others on their  journey.

Maintain standards – the standards a training organisation works to are set by the awarding organisation, and it is the IQA’d role to check that these are being met.  The IQA will have a plan in place that allows them to check the work of the assessors and produce reports that go to the assessor, centre and awarding body.  This acts as feedback to aid consistent development.  They actually have to sign off to agree a sample of decisions.  This gives the awarding organisation a internal check of quality… hence the name of the role.

Liaising with awarding bodies – an IQA will generally liaise with the awarding bodies and make sure that the training centre is compliant.  They will seek clarification where needed and provide the awarding organisation with the evidence they request.  This is a vital part of the role as the relationship between training organisation and awarding organisation is business critical.  Without it certificates can not be processed and therefore there is no training business.

Advising centre management – in many cases centre management are not technical specialists or even have a great deal of understanding of delivery and assessment.  The IQA is there to support them in understanding these areas and making business decisions.

Deliver training and development (Standardisation) – within our centres we would like that whichever assessor a particular learners saw the assessment decision would be the same.  This in turn would be the same across all assessors working with the same awarding organisation.  In order to achieve this training is required that involves some form of bench marking or standardising assessment decisions.  This training is driven and often delivered by the IQA, based on trends that they have spotted while sampling work.

Advising on and developing policy – policy in any organisation, from a technical point of view the IQA is placed well to advise management on creation of actionable policy.

All the boring (but very important) bits, the IQA plays a pivotal role in that without their checks, diligence and support centres can find themselves in a lot of bother with the awarding body.  My advice to any centre is invest in your IQA as they are the ones who should be driving compliance and quality… keeping you in business!

If you need an IQA for your training centre or if you need help finding the right team for you, please comment below or reach out on social.  Alternatively if you are not sure about what you need or need a consultant to help you establish quality processes please do reach out and I will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Tom has been involved in the fitness industry for nearly 20 years. He is a specialist in rehabilitation, exercise referral and helping other fitness professionals to improve their business. He is also involved with course development, teaching, assessing and IQA of a range of training courses. He is always willing to meet other professionals so please do contact him via social media with any questions or just to say hello.

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