The outcome of the joint Ofqual and Department for Education consultation, which took place in January, has now been announced. As you know, this consultation focused on arrangements for issuing results this year for Ofqual-regulated Vocational and Technical Qualifications, in response to the cancellation of external assessments due to take place in February, March and June 2021. We hope you were able to participate.
As part of our contribution to the consultation, we worked very closely with the DfE, Ofqual, and many of you, to ensure we can award results this year, that learners are not disadvantaged and that they can progress. What is of utmost importance to us is that we continue to work closely with you, to make sure the process is as seamless as possible over the coming months.
We welcome the approach set out in today’s announcement, which looks to both recognise the varied purpose and range of vocational qualifications and progression routes, and the need to ensure certificating learners can be awarded grades in order to progress, with parity, alongside those receiving results for General Qualifications this year.
BTEC Level 2 Tech Awards, Firsts, Technicals* and Level 3 Nationals*
We can now confirm that our BTEC Level 2 Tech Awards, Firsts, Technicals* and Level 3 Nationals* will be in scope for alternative arrangements, where these qualifications share a core purpose of progression. In addition, many of the Entry – Level 1 BTECs will also be in scope.
For these qualifications, our priority is to ensure that learners are not disadvantaged, and that they can progress alongside those students taking General Qualifications (GCSEs and A levels). Standardised teacher assessment is already established at the heart of BTEC qualifications, and we are therefore encouraging teaching, learning and internal unit assessment to continue. For certificating learners only, we will be requesting a Qualification-level ‘Teacher Assessed Grade’ (TAG) to enable qualification results to be issued for learners completing these qualifications this year. (As these TAG grades will be based on teacher judgement, Ofqual have advised they should be referred to by Awarding Organisations as a ‘Teacher Assessed Grade’, for both General and Vocational Qualifications where a teacher (or centre) judgement is used as part of this year’s arrangements for awarding.)
*Please note that as you’d expect, License to Practise qualifications within these suites will have a different approach as their purpose is progression into employment.
Schools and colleges should continue to deliver internal
As in previous years, internal assessment continues to be important, and we can confirm that schools and colleges are strongly encouraged to continue to deliver teaching, learning and conducting internal assessment in order to continue to ‘bank’ unit performance. We can also confirm that Standards Verification for these qualifications will continue and form the underpinning Quality Assurance for the Qualification-level TAG that you will submit for your certificating learners. In recognition of the need to ensure this can be fulfilled in a timely manner, the sampling requirements will be adjusted to one unit and three learners.
Qualification-level TAGs for certificating learners
Although the teaching and learning for relevant external assessments should continue to be delivered, where a learner was due to take an external assessment this year, there will be no unit-level alternative arrangement. Instead, centres will use evidence across the breadth of the course to inform their Qualification-level TAG.
We appreciate that you will need to know how this will work for you and your learners, and we plan to issue guidance for you in the next week, with these details:
- List of qualifications within scope of this year’s arrangements for awarding
- Guidance for license-linked qualifications within these suites
- Initial guidance and preparation for submission of a Qualification-level TAG
- Initial guidance on evidence that could be used to inform the Qualification-level TAG
- Mitigations for learners not due to certificate this summer (‘mid-flight’ learners)
We will also issue follow-up guidance once we are ready to receive the relevant grading information and declarations from your centre. For now, we can confirm that exam entries for the summer 2021 series should be made by 25 March for learners that were due to take external assessments in summer 2021.
BTEC Higher Nationals
For BTEC Higher Nationals, tutors are encouraged to continue to deliver and assess students, wherever it is feasible and safe to do so. The Guidance on delivery and assessment for Higher Nationals 2020-21 continues to apply for these qualifications.
We are currently finalising further guidance for Higher Nationals, detailing a proposed approach to assessment for 2020-21. The guidance will cover:
- The use of Unit-Level Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs)
- The potential delay for certain units
- The approach to sampling and grade review
Qualifications which confer an occupational competence or License to Practise
It has been confirmed that due to the purpose of these qualifications, assessment should continue. Internal assessments can continue, in line with any adaptations that are in place and external assessments will also go ahead. You can find existing guidance on our website. We will also provide:
- List of qualifications in this category
- Confirmation of timetabled externally assessed units that will go ahead this year
- Standards Verification timelines
As outlined today, the Functional Skills assessments are expected to continue as they are offered on-demand and centres should plan for learners to take live assessments wherever possible. However, in recognition of some specific challenges in relation to this, in some circumstances, Awarding Organisations will be permitted to offer alternative arrangements. Whilst we encourage testing to continue, please be reassured that where progression is being impacted, assessment cannot be delayed and centres can clearly demonstrate that learners are unable to access a live assessment, there will be a solution in place for these learners. We are working closely with Ofqual and other Functional Skills AOs on the details of this process and will be providing additional guidance on this as soon as it is finalised.
Online events and further information
We are planning to run the following online sessions, aimed specifically at BTEC Quality Nominees, which you are welcome to book onto:
- 11 March 2021 12:00 to 13:00
- 15 March 2021 14:00 to 15:00
- There will also be sector-specific BTEC events aimed at teachers and other school and college staff, which you are welcome to select (under ‘BTEC’) and book onto through our training page
- We have also created a series of Q&A webinar events for Functional Skills, looking forward to plans for summer, where you will have an opportunity to ask questions of our qualification expert. Please sign up using the filter Functional Skills Entry Levels 1-3 and Functional Skills Level 1 and Level 2 in the Qualification drop-down
- We have an updated FAQ page, which we hope will help further explain our position on assessment arrangements for vocational qualifications this year, in light of today's announcement
We will update you with further information soon.
Thank you for your continued patience, support and collaboration during these unprecedented times.