What arrangements are in place this summer for awarding vocational, technical and other general qualifications?

Results will be issued for those qualifications that are used for progression to employment, further or higher education, to allow learners to progress. Ofqual has defined those qualifications as:

  • qualifications used for progression to further or higher education;
  • qualifications serving a mixed purpose;
  • qualifications signalling occupational competence.

Which qualifications are in scope?

Although there isn’t a defined list of which qualifications are included, we know that it is likely to include (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • BTEC Nationals, Firsts, Tech Awards and Technicals;
  • Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals;
  • UAL Diplomas;
  • general qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate;
  • Cambridge Pre-U;
  • qualifications included under the umbrella term ‘Core Maths’;
  • Functional Skills qualifications (see more information below);
  • ESOL Skills for life qualifications.

Apprenticeship end point assessments (EPAs) are not included.

What approach will Ofqual take to awarding qualifications this summer?

Ofqual has decided there will be three approaches:

  • calculation,
  • adaptation,
  • delay.

What are calculated results? 

Calculated results will need to involve three elements: 

  • a centre assessment grade for each learner (generated by the centre) and/or a calculated grade (determined by the awarding organisation [AO]), based on the results they already hold for the learner;
  • quality assurance of the overall calculated result (which is derived from the centre assessment grade and/or any AO calculated grade);
  • a check on overall qualification level outcomes and grade profile, and that it is in line with expectations. According to Ofqual, in order to devise their approach to calculating results, each awarding organisation will need to:
    • identify the evidence that is available, and evidence that can be collected;
    • evaluate the level of trust they would place in each source of evidence;
    • devise an approach which maximises the use of the most trusted source of evidence.

What are adapted results? 

It may not be possible for AOs to award calculated results for all vocational and technical qualifications, such as those used to signal occupational competence. These qualifications should, wherever possible, receive adapted assessments.

According to Ofqual, adaptation could take several approaches:

  • changing the way assessments are delivered (a paper-based test being taken online);
  • adapting assessment methods (using simulation in place of an observation);
  • changing invigilation requirements;
  • waiving or adjusting placement requirements;
  • or changing quality assurance methods (standardisation or moderation taking place remotely or online).

What is meant by delay? 

Ofqual has said it sees the delay or rescheduling of an assessment as the last resort in the proposed framework. This will happen where it will not be possible for AOs to issue results, or where there are qualifications for which results can be issued, but some learners to whom it will not be possible to give a result for that qualification – in such cases delay will unfortunately be the only option. Where this happens, learners who will not receive results this summer should, as far as possible, be offered opportunities to sit their assessments at a later date, and as soon as reasonably possible, ideally no later than in the autumn term.

Will there be any rank ordering? 

Ofqual has said that it will be for AOs to decide what evidence they need, which may involve rank ordering, particularly for Applied General Qualifications. Ofqual will be working with AOs to support consistency, where appropriate. Ofqual expects AOs to be communicating with centres soon about how they expect the process will run.

Will learners be able to appeal?

Ofqual says learners should have a right of appeal if the relevant process was not followed correctly by the awarding organisation. This should be focused upon whether the process was followed and, where applicable, should not involve second-guessing the judgement of teachers, tutors or trainers, who know their students best.

What happens if you are teaching VTQs in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland?

Ofqual has agreed with Qualifications Wales, CCEA Regulation and SQA Accreditation that their proposals relating to qualifications awarded in England should also apply when they are awarded in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

What has Ofqual said about Functional Skills qualifications?

Ofqual has said: “We recognise however that the diversity of settings in which Functional Skills qualifications are taught and the varied nature of the learner cohorts, together with the assessment design of the qualifications, may mean that awarding organisations are not able to issue safe and valid calculated grades for all learners. Therefore, although our clear expectation is that Functional Skills learners wherever possible should receive a calculated grade in line with the policy set out in the direction, we accept that in some circumstances, awarding organisations may not be able to do so because they could not comply with our requirements for calculated results and would not be able to issue safe and valid results as required for all learners.”