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.
Read the full letter to awarding organisations.
Pearson confirms the introduction of “near pass” grade
Pearson has confirmed that it will be introducing an N grade or "near pass" for most BTEC nationals (RQF, teaching from 2016).
This means that learners can pass the qualification without passing the external assessment as long as they achieve the N grade and meet all other eligibility requirements, which remain unchanged. Learners will be able to do this if they narrowly miss the pass grade and still achieve enough points throughout the qualification.
These changes come into effect immediately and retrospectively for all learners who were registered on the new BTEC Nationals (RQF) in 2016 or 2017. Pearson has contacted all centres about this, and it will be in touch with any centres that have learners who were not eligible for an award when they 'claimed' previously, but who are now eligible for a qualification under the new rules.
Please note that these changes only apply to the externally assessed units, and no changes are being made to grades for internally assessed units.
You can find further information about this on Pearson's website.
First published 18 April 2018