Updated 17 February

Progress towards awarding in 2021

As the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 continue to be felt, it is clear that 2021 will present significant challenges to centres delivering our qualifications. As such we have a responsibility to work closely with you to ensure learners can achieve the results they deserve.

As you may be aware, the DfE and Ofqual published a consultation on ‘Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021’ which we, along with other awarding bodies and centres like yourselves, responded to. While the responses are being analysed, we want to reassure you and your learners that we are prioritising the development of processes that will ensure, wherever possible, all learners can access assessments, achieve results and progress onto the next stage of their lives.

We appreciate that you are keen to know what will be required of you and related timescales. Please be reassured that we are aware of these time pressures and as soon as we are able to communicate key activities, dates and deadlines, we will do so.

We continue to work very closely with our UK regulators (CCEA Regulation, Ofqual, Qualifications Wales and SQA) and other awarding bodies and over the next two weeks as the outcomes of the consultation become clearer, we will all be focusing on communicating next steps and managing expectations.

We hope that you are able to administer assessments as normal and have already put in place a number of adaptations to support this, including developing our remote invigilation offer. We know however that the likelihood is that there will still be learners who are unable to complete assessments for reasons beyond their control. As such there will need to be alternative arrangements in place to mitigate against this.

Our response to the consultation – core principles

While we are awaiting confirmation on what alternative arrangements will be permitted, our response to the consultation highlighted a number of core principles that will shape our approaches. These are:

  • A commitment to fairness for learners, providing them with the opportunity to achieve results.
  • Maintaining the validity and reliability of our qualifications and assessments.
  • Designing alternative assessment arrangements that are practicable and manageable for centres.
  • Ensuring learners are not advantaged or disadvantaged, as far as possible, regardless of how their result is determined.
  • Clearly defining the level of expected competence required for learners where alternative arrangements are applied.
  • Supporting centres to ensure the alternative arrangements process is robust and secure.

The role of teacher assessment

We know that whatever alternative arrangements are agreed, teacher assessment will play a significant supporting role. Due to the wide-ranging potential impacts on teaching and learning we wanted to highlight that teachers should look to gather a wide range of evidence to support their assessment. This might include:

  • Results from any completed external assessments.
  • Internally marked centre assessed components.
  • Any formative or practice exam/assessment results.
  • Previous examination results.
  • Participation and performance in skills-based activities.
  • Records of candidates’ attendance on, and active engagement with, the learning programme
  • Overall candidate performance and progress.
  • Classwork/homework.
  • Internal tutor assessment and progress data.
  • Any other records of candidate performance over the course of study.

Guidance and support – next steps

We recognise that clear guidance and support materials, and regular, timely communications  will be vital to the success of our approach. We will build on our robust calculated results processes, guidance and support materials from last year to respond to the additional challenges that this year will bring. The good practice and responsiveness that you demonstrated last year will also prove invaluable to this.

Once again, we want to reassure you that we fully recognise the range of challenges that this year will present, and that are making every effort to ensure that we mitigate the impacts of these challenges on learners.

We will build on this initial communication, providing regular updates which we will make available through our Covid-specific web pages.