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Potential "safety net" for students who narrowly miss a pass in externally-assessed units in applied general and tech level qualifications

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Ahead of this summer's awards, Phil Beach, executive director for vocational and technical qualifications at Ofqual, has written to encourage awarding organisations offering applied general and tech level qualifications to consider changes to their qualifications to provide a 'safety net' for those students who narrowly miss a pass on one or more externally-assessed units.

Summer 2018 sees the first two-year cohort of students complete new qualifications that count in performance tables as applied generals or tech levels. In most of these qualifications, students must currently pass each of the externally-assessed units to be awarded a qualification grade at pass or higher.

In most of these qualifications, students must pass each of the externally-assessed units to be awarded a qualification grade at pass or higher. This means that a student who performs at distinction in three out of four units but just fails the fourth will fail the overall qualification. In contrast, a student who just passes all four units will likely pass the qualification (provided they have also passed the internally-assessed units).

Ofqual recognises this is not fair to students who narrowly miss passing one or more units. The letter encourages awarding organisations offering these qualifications to consider making some changes to those qualifications to provide a 'safety net' for those students who narrowly miss a pass on one or more externally-assessed units.

The different structures of applied general and tech level qualifications means the changes are likely to vary between awarding organisations, and not all awarding organisations may wish to make changes.

Ofqual has made clear it is vital that schools, colleges, students and others are made aware of any changes as a matter of urgency.

Following queries from NAHT, the Department for Education has confirmed that Ofqual will allow retrospective regrading for those students who have already taken the new qualifications last year to ensure consistency between the same units.

However, any changes will only be reported in performance tables if the student is at the end of 16-18 studies this year; the Department will not be amending the performance tables for 2017. 

Read the full letter to awarding organisations.

First published 09 August 2018
09/08/2018