You are not logged in

Overview of the assessment system

The curriculum adopts the following GMC definitions:

A systematic procedure for measuring a trainee’s progress or level of achievement, against defined criteria to make a judgement about a trainee.

Assessment system
An assessment system refers to an integrated set of assessments which is in place for the entire postgraduate training programme and which is blueprinted against and supports the approved curriculum.

Purpose of the assessment system

The purpose of the assessment system is to:

  • determine whether trainees are meeting the standards of competence and performance specified at various stages in the curriculum for surgical training
  • provide systematic and comprehensive feedback as part of the learning cycle
  • determine whether trainees have acquired the common and specialty-based knowledge, clinical judgement, operative and technical skills, and generic professional behaviour and leadership skills required to practice at the level of CCT in the designated surgical specialty
  • address all the domains of Good Medical Practice and conform to the principles laid down by the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board.

Components of the assessment system

The individual components of the assessment system are:

  • Workplace Based Assessments covering knowledge, clinical judgement, technical skills and professional behaviour and attitudes together with the surgical logbook of procedures to support the assessment of operative skills
  • examinations held at key stages - during the early years of training and towards the end of specialist training
  • the Learning Agreement and the Assigned Educational Supervisors’ report
  • an annual review of competence progression (ARCP).

In order to be included in the assessment system, the assessments methods selected have to meet the following criteria. They have to be:

  • Valid - to ensure face validity, the Workplace Based Assessments comprise direct observations of workplace tasks. The complexity of the tasks increases in line with progression through the training programme. To ensure content validity all the assessment instruments have been blueprinted against all the Good Medical Practice.
  • Reliable - in order to increase reliability, there will be multiple measures of outcomes. ISCP assessments make use of several observers’ judgements, multiple assessment methods (triangulation) and take place frequently. The planned systematic and permanent programme of assessor training for trainers and Assigned Educational Supervisors (AESs) through the deaneries helps gain maximum reliability of placement reports.
  • Feasible - the practicality of the assessments in the training and working environment has been taken into account. The assessment should not add a significant amount of time to the workplace task being assessed and assessors should be able to complete the scoring and feedback part of the assessment in 5-10 minutes.
  • Cost-effectiveness – once staff have been trained in the assessment process and are familiar with the ISCP website, the only significant additional costs should be any extra time taken for assessments and feedback and the induction of new Assigned Educational Supervisors. The most substantial extra time investment will be in the regular appraisal process for units that did not previously have such a system.
  • Opportunities for feedback – all the assessments, both those for learning and of learning, include a feedback element. Structured feedback is a fundamental component of high quality assessment and should be incorporated throughout Workplace Based Assessments.
  • Impact on learning - The Workplace Based Assessments are all designed to include immediate feedback as part of the process. A minimum number of three appraisals with the AES per clinical placement are built into the training system. The formal examinations all provide limited feedback as part of the summative process. The assessment process thus has a continuous developmental impact on learning. The emphasis given to reflective practice within the portfolio also impacts directly on learning.