Today the Q-TAG portal goes live for you to review your certificating learner data. This means that all functionality, except for the submission of Q-TAGs and Head of Centre declarations, is now available for you to use. This week we have included a user guideandvideo walk through. The submission functionality will go live on 26 May as previously advised.
This issue also contains a couple of reminders about the process, which we would encourage you to review.
We understand how much you are currently juggling, and want to thank you for keeping in touch and giving us feedback on how we can improve our support.
As always, you are welcome to contact us with any queries or concerns, keep informed by following @teachBTEC, or access ourFAQ page, which is updated frequently. Our social media is monitored from 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday and we welcome, and will respond to, any suggestions or feedback you have for us. You can also review past bulletinsif you’ve missed any or sign up to receive future updates if you have not already done so, via the link at the end of this bulletin.
Thanks as always for your ongoing support and collaboration.
As stated in previous bulletins and in our Awarding Results 2021 Guidance(p.11), you should prioritise units for delivery that are set out by HEI admissions as essential to any offer they may have made to your students, to ensure learners can progress with confidence to Higher Education. This often involves Maths and/or Science-related units within the BTEC Level 3 Nationals qualifications (e.g. Engineering, Construction, Health & Social Care, Applied Science, Sport & Exercise Science). It is vital learners are able to study this key content (irrespective of whether it is a mandatory or optional unit), even if formal assessment of these units cannot take place, to give students the best chance of succeeding at degree level.
You will be asked to confirm you have delivered these units through the submission of the Q-TAG and accompanying Head of Centre Declaration.
Letter to completing BTEC Level 3 students
Last week we wrote a letter to all BTEC Level 3 National students completing this year about the assessment arrangements and the support available if they are considering going to university. We would be grateful if you give a copy of this letter to every student that is completing a BTEC Level 3 National this year, if you haven’t already done so.
Some of your students may be in receipt of unit-specific offers from universities, which is common for some STEM and health-related degree programmes. We have updated all UK universities and many international universities about this year’s BTEC assessment arrangements. Some have already committed to waiving this unit requirement, and others are reviewing what impact (if any) this will have on applicants.
We would therefore recommend where your students hold unit-specific offers to contact the relevant universities on their behalf, if you/your students have not already heard from them to confirm that they can be flexible on this requirement. Supporting BTEC student progression is important to us, so if you need any assistance, please do contact us.
We know many of you are delivering the reformed BTEC Level 3 Nationals (RQF) for the first time this year. Our Q-TAG guidance has information and points of consideration to help you when determining the Q-TAG for these qualifications (see pages 17-22).
Some of you have asked us whether we require you to use historical data for the QCF qualifications when determining the Q-TAG for RQF qualifications. We do not expect nor require this. If this is your first year of delivering the RQF, we recognise you are almost like a new centre in that respect and “New centres will not have any historical data, so will need to focus attention on other aspects of quality assurance” (p.22).
It may also be helpful to reflect on previous year's results statistics, summarising the overall grade outcomes for learners sitting BTEC qualifications, which can be found on our website.
For our BTEC qualifications*, our standards verification activity is fast approaching the deadline for this academic year.
SV Completion deadline is 30 May 2021. All sampling and Standards Verifier (SV) reports should be completed by that date.
Please encourage your teams to get samples to Standards Verifiers as soon as possible, so you can receive feedback ahead of the Q-TAG deadline of 18 June 2021. There will be no extension to this date, as we will move our focus to the Q-TAG process and associated quality assurance activities.
*with the exception of Licence to Practice qualifications, which require standards verification to be completed, and ’B2’ categorised BTEC qualifications where assessment if required to continue.
As advised in our guidance and in previous Bulletins, the Q-TAG portal goes live today, 19 May, and is accessible for you to view your certificating learners who are due to certificate on an eligible BTEC qualification this summer*. All functionality is now available, except for the uploading and submission of Q-TAGs and the Head of Centre declaration.
This means that from today you can download the templates into which the Learner Q-TAGs can be added offline, ready to upload on 26 May when the submission functionality becomes available.
However, should you still need help, we will be holding Q&A sessions next week, once you’ve familiarised yourself with the system, and we can answer any further questions you may have about the portal then. Please sign up on our bookings website to secure your place.
*Please note: Centres submitting Q-TAGs for BTEC qualifications categorised as B2 should not use the Q-TAG portal. The application process for Q-TAGs for B2 can be found here.
As you’re aware, since we released our awarding guidance earlier in the year, we have communicated the data that you will need to provide us with, to enable the issue of results to learners on time. We are very grateful to you and your centre teams for working with us to confirm that the correct learners are displayed in the Q-TAG portal.
We expect that all centres will be able to submit Q-TAGs for learners, where sufficient evidence exists, in time for the deadline of 18 June 2021.
Unfortunately, any delay to the submission of Q-TAGs will result in a knock-on delay to learners receiving results. This means that centres who submit data after the 18 June deadline will not get results in time for learners’ results dates of 10 and 12 August.
We’re sure you’ll understand that it’s therefore vital that you have additional resource available, should you need it, to ensure that Q-TAGs can be submitted to us by 18 June. We’d like to thank you again for your continued collaboration and support in ensuring learners receive their results on time.
We’d like to share some more detail in relation to the arrangements for the ‘Post Q-TAG submission External Quality Assurance’ step of our Quality Assurance activities this year.
Centres will submit their Q-TAGs to us on, or before, 18 June 2021.
As set out in our guidance, the timelines for the post submission Q-TAG QA will run from Q-TAG submission through to 16 July. In exceptional circumstances this may run until 24 July.
The post Q-TAG submission External Quality Assurance is the final stage of the quality assurance process, where we will review a sample of evidence to confirm your centre has implemented the Q-TAG process set out by Pearson, in line with BTEC centre policies, and that your submitted grades are therefore sufficiently valid and reliable. This sampling process will also provide reassurance that grades awarded this year can be used confidently by learners and stakeholders.
The sampling process will take place following the submission of grades and the Head of Centre declaration. Centres will be selected for sampling on a range of factors including:
Where a centre’s overall results’ profile for this year’s cohort appears to diverge significantly compared to the profiles for cohorts from previous years when exams have taken place
Whether the centre has submitted the Annual Centre of Declaration
Whether the centre has submitted their policies for review as part of LSV QA (which took place earlier in the academic year)
Late registration patterns outside of normal behaviour
The Standards Verification activity from this year
Centres with a ‘high-risk’ profile, due to malpractice/maladministration or other reason.
In addition, and in line with similar practice for ‘Low’ rated programmes, there will be some centres that are selected randomly to ensure appropriate coverage of other variables, including sector, qualification or geographical location.
What happens if my centre is selected?
If your centre is selected then we will request you provide a sample of evidence that supports the grades you have submitted for the selected learners. The sampling of evidence will take place at programme level, in line with normal Standards Verification processes. You will receive an automated message requesting information to be shared with us digitally:
a summary of the approach undertaken to award Q-TAG grades and the internal quality assurance processes
information to support the results profile, e.g. in comparison to past performance
samples of evidence used to inform the Q-TAG judgement for at least five learners.
*if your centre has used this template or cover sheetas part of the process, then this information is covered here. If you have not used these, please ensure the questions are covered in your own documentation.
To ensure that the process is manageable for centres a maximum of three programmes will be reviewed at an individual centre.
A Sector-specific Reviewer will be in contact with your namedPoint of Contact (on EOL)and/or your Quality Nominee and will need to discuss the evidence you have submitted.
If, having reviewed the evidence, the Reviewer has questions about how a centre has made grading decisions, they will advise the centre and further evidence may be requested.
Where the Reviewer has unresolved concerns about a centre’s approach and the evidence does not support the grades submitted, centres will be asked to reconsider their grades. We may also need to discuss the grading decisions with the centre; if we are not able to satisfactorily complete Quality Assurance of the Q-TAGs submitted, we are required to withhold results until assurances can be given.
As in pre-Covid times, it’s essential that your data management processes include ensuring that quality checks are taking place to confirm that final data submissions, specifically Q-TAGs, are accurate.
Any checks that you can do at the submission point will also mitigate issues on results day, and any unnecessary appeals (where incorrect Q-TAGs have been supplied).
Due to our Quality Assurance processes for the Q-TAG submissions, any requests for amendments after 18 June deadline (and before results days) could cause a delay to the issue of learners results at your centre.
The Q-TAG portal enables the submission of Q-TAGs via an Excel spreadsheet format, so we do hope you are able to confirm the accuracy of your Q-TAG data easily.
We will be releasing more detail regarding the appeals process in the next few weeks. Until then, we’d like to reiterate that learners are able to appeal, via centres in the first instance, their Q-TAG judgements.
In light of this, and as described in the guidance, it is really important learners understand the evidence that you will be using to base the judgement on.
This gives the learner the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions with you, and we hope would mitigate the number of appeals you have to deal with.
In addition, we have created a student webpage, where we are hosting all of the relevant BTEC information for learners, parents and carers, that we hope will help you in explaining the process in place for awarding results this year.
If you'd like to find out the latest information about our general qualifications and see how we are supporting schools and colleges, teachers, learners, parents and carers for summer 2021, please visit our dedicated web page.
We’ve run a series of events to support teachers in determining fair grades for GCSE, AS and A level learners this summer. Recordings of these events are now available on our Professional Development Academy.
We also have a range of support for students, parents and carers on our dedicated web page. Please do take a look and pass this information on to your students and encourage them to share it with their parents and carers.