Dear Colleagues, Welcome to the latest VQ Bulletin.
We hope that you have managed to access and use the Q-TAG portal this last week without issue. From today, the upload functionality is now live on the Q-TAG portal meaning that you are now able to submit learner Q-TAGs. For those of you who may have questions about the functionality of the portal, there are still spaces on our Submitting Q-TAGs Q&A sessions this week.
In addition to a reminder on where you can access information about using the Q-TAG portal, this edition of the bulletin contains important information about thereduced assessment (‘Z-flag’) functionality, as well as several important reminders about what we need from you to ensure your learners receive their grades on time.
For those of you off next week, we hope you have a restful half term. We won't be sending a Bulletin but will be back the following week with more VQ updates.
Finally, you may notice that we've changed the format of this edition. From now on our closing message, which includes our contact information, can be found at the end of the Bulletin.
As part of the QA processes for Q-TAG, we have released a selection of templates and materials that can be used by your centre to document the Q-TAG process and the evidence that the Q-TAG judgements are based upon.
You may have also created or adapted your own templates and evidence records. Either way is absolutely fine. Your documents may be at learner, cohort or programme-level, so long as the information is captured in a way that enables us to understand what evidence has been used, this is also acceptable.
If you are using your own templates, please ensure that the questions outlined here are incorporated. This will ensure, should you be selected for post Q-TAG submission sampling, we can approach the task with you quickly and easily.
As advised in our guidance and in previous Bulletins, from today, 26 May, the upload functionality is now live on the Q-TAG portal, and grade submissions for learners due to certificate on an eligible BTEC qualification this summer* can now be made.
This means that from today you can, not only download the templates into which the Learner Q-TAGs can be added offline, but also upload them into the portal. The functionality which permits the completion of the Head of Centre Declaration will be made available at the start of June. You must complete both your submissions and Head of Centre Declaration by 18 June.
However, should you still need help with the inputting and uploading process having spent time on the system over the last week, we will be holding Q&A sessions on Thursday and Friday this week, where we can answer any further questions you may have about the portal. 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.
We can confirm that this new functionality is now available on Edexcel Online for reporting reductions in assessments for learners. We have updated our step-by-step guidance to reflect this.
This section gives you more information on when and how to use this functionality.
Reduced assessment for B1 qualifications
For those qualifications in the ‘B1’ category (most similar to GCSEs and A-Levels) you can report the reduced assessment by using the ‘Z grade’ as per example below. Many of you have asked about whether you must report reduced assessment for certificating learners, to confirm, you only need to report reduced assessment for mid-flight learners, and those that will ‘top-up’ next year.
For mid-flight learners we expect that a TAG (component or qualification-level) will be requested by Pearson during the learner’s year of certification. At the time of writing, this will apply only to those units which were due to be assessed between 1 August 2020 – 31 August 2021, including external assessments. For internal assessments this means that all units scheduled to be completed between these dates should be ‘flagged’ to us using this reduced assessment functionality - ‘Z flag’.
This has previously been referred to as permitted assessment reductions. This functionality will allow us to understand which units were not completed this year due to the disruption experienced. We continue to work with the DfE and Ofqual to finalise the approach to 2022 which will enable us to communicate with some certainty how grades will be determined for mid-flight learners. We will keep you updated.
Example Edexcel Online grade reporting for B1 qualifications:
Reduced assessment for B2 qualifications
For category B2 qualifications (those not similar to GCSEs or A-Levels) you can now report permitted reductions in assessment by using the ‘Z flag’ as in the example below. As indicated in our B2 qualification guidance, you will also provide a unit grade alongside this ‘Z flag’.
As you enter your grades into the portal, please ensure that they have been checked and signed off before you submit the Head of Centre declaration. The declaration ‘closes’ your submission access. Any errors identified after the final deadline of 18 June, and before results day(s), will need to follow our Q-TAG grade amendments process.
We will not be using the normal process for grade amendments (as the Q-TAG is an overall, qualification-level, grade). Please note that any requests for grade changes after the 18 June could cause delay in releasing results for your centre. Errors identified after results day(s) will have to follow the Appeals process.
Please note: For category B2 qualifications (where assessment is required to continue) the normal process for grade amendments will apply. If you require grade adjustments after certification, the SA16 process will apply.
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, included on 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 Grade statistics webpage.
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.
For our BTEC qualifications*, our Standards Verification activity is fast approaching the deadline for this academic year.
The 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, which require standards verification to be completed, and ’B2’ categorised BTEC qualifications where assessment is required to continue.
SV deadlines for other qualifications (Category A and B2)
If you have learners applying to HE with competence-based qualifications (category A) or category B2 qualifications, we encourage you to complete the standards verification process by Wednesday 30 June.
Claims on EOL should be submitted by Monday 5 July, to ensure timely results for learners with UCAS applications.
This year, for qualifications that are permitted to have Teacher Assessed Grades, an Appeals process will be available.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) group, who work with a number of Awarding Organisations is due to release an update on how appeals will operate for General Qualifications. In line with our principles for awarding results this year for our Vocational Qualifications, we will look to align as far as possible (where appropriate) with this guidance for qualifications that are most similar to GCSEs and A Levels.
We will also update our main Q-TAG Guidance to reflect the key aspects for BTEC qualifications, noting key aspects once confirmed.
We are yet to confirm any associated fees regarding these services. We will keep you updated as soon as this information is confirmed and available.
As a result of the changes to assessment arrangements for Summer 2021 there are two important changes to our standard processes that you should already be aware of:
You will be able to submit a qualification level, teacher assessed grade (Q-TAG) for learners completing their qualifications this summer and you will submit these grades through the ‘TAG Portal’ rather than through the usual Edexcel Online claims process
We are introducing a new unit grade of ‘Z’ that you will be able to report for units where teaching has taken place but no unit grade is available to submit. You will be able to report unit grades by learner or cohort using Edexcel Online and submitting these as interim claims.
As these changes relate to summer 2021, the EDIFACT process will not be updated, meaning you cannot use EDIFACT to report Q-TAGs or ‘Z flag/grades’, and the TAG portal and EOL should be used respectively.
We are unable to process EDIFACT unit and award claim submissions (.ERA files) that contain any Q-TAG or Z grade claims as these new processes in place for 2021 are not supported by EDIFACT. We can only process ‘normal’ unit interim claims for mid-flight or certificating learners.
Any .ERA files that we do receive this summer will be processed in line with existing (pre-COVID) guidance and great care should be taken to ensure other data is not submitted via EDIFACT, to avoid errors.
All claims made should be interim claims only
Reporting unit grades that are P, M, D and U can be made via EDIFACTReduced Assessment Indicator and
Reduced Grade (‘Z flag’) will not be available in basedata
Z grades or flags (reduced assessment), should be reported via Edexcel Online
All Q-TAGs must be reported via the Q-TAG portal
If non-standard data is submitted via EDIFACT, this will result in processing issues and errors
Retention of records: Student work is retained for 12 weeks following certification as per the standard requirements, however, any student work for Unit Level TAGs will need to be retained for 6 months after certification has taken place. In addition to the assessment record documentation, you retain for 3 years, as per the standard requirements, any additional assessment record documentation relating to Unit Level TAGs must be retained for 6 months following certification.
Recording Unit Level TAGs in EOL: We added a new ‘Z’ column in Edexcel Online which should be used to indicate a Unit Level TAG. Once External Examiners have reviewed the Assessment Board Grade Tracker and Assessment Board minutes, they will advise centres to upload grades onto EOL. For grades that are Unit Level TAGs, centres should enter the grade (Pass/Merit/Distinction) and the Z column.
We are in the final stages of testing our new remote invigilation service and will be contacting centres with more detail of how to use this new service.
You can find out more on our website, where new information will be added as we roll out this service for our reformed Functional Skills English and Maths onscreen tests and EPA onscreen tests, including an 'Intention to Offer' form you will need to complete if you want to use this service, we will continue to keep you updated.
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.
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 our FAQ 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 bulletins if you’ve missed any or sign up to receive future updates sign up to receive future updates (if you have not already done so).
Thanks as always for your ongoing support and collaboration.