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Coronavirus and awarding vocational and technical qualifications


Following the decision to close schools and not go ahead with this summer's exams, the Department for Education (DfE), Ofqual and awarding organisations have been working together to consider how best to assess vocational and technical qualifications in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The complexity of the landscape for vocational and technical qualifications means a single approach is not appropriate. NAHT is working with the DfE and Ofqual on the details of how this will work, and we will make sure concerns are raised and dealt with to the best of everyone's ability.

Arrangements for awarding qualifications in 2020/21

Dame Glenys Stacey has written to the Secretary of State about the flexibility of approaches for assessing vocational and technical qualifications.

The DfE publishes decisions on delays to 2021 summer exams

On 12 October, the DfE announced a three-week delay to the summer exam series for general qualifications. They confirmed that students taking vocational and technical qualifications needed for progression will not receive the results later than their peers, which will now be Tuesday 24 August for A/AS levels and Friday 27 August for GCSEs. 

The DfE has stated that it is expected that for the majority of vocational and technical qualifications that are taken alongside or instead of GCSEs, AS and A levels, awarding organisations will look to align timetables with 2021 exams.

Further information can be found here. NAHT will continue to engage with the DfE, Ofqual and awarding organisations about these arrangements.

New Ofqual guidance on VTQ Exams and assessments in 2020/21

Ofqual has published guidance on the assessment and awarding of vocational and technical qualifications in 2020/21. This guidance is for centres, teachers, pupils, parents and carers and aims to provide answers to some common questions about the new arrangements. The guidance can be found here. 

Ofqual publishes consultation decision on VTQ exams and assessments in 2021

On 7th September, Ofqual published a statementdecision  and analysis  in response to the first of two consultations on assessment and awarding of Vocational, Technical and 2020 to 2021 in light of the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.

Ofqual has decided to implement all the proposed decisions in their first consultation, including:

  • enabling Awarding Organisations (AOs) to adapt assessments and qualifications, where necessary, to free-up teaching and learning time; make assessments as manageable as possible; safeguard against future disruption and ensure the reliability, validity and standards of the qualification.
  • introducing a second version of the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF), the Extended ERF, to reflect this approach to mitigation and adaptation.
  • that there will be no provision for using calculated results
  • there will be no single approach for AOs, but statutory guidance will be produced to ensure a consistent approach is developed.
  • Ofqual does not expect the content of qualifications to be reduced, except in exceptional circumstances and only after engagement with stakeholders.

On 12 October, Ofqual published their decision, analysis, and statement on their second consultation on a draft version of the Extended ERF which addresses revised principles and the statutory guidance for AOs on adaption and special considerations. The new Extended ERF can be found here

Ofqual sets out guiding principles on mitigations for 2020/21 vocational and technical qualifications

On 2 July, Ofqual set out their guiding principles that will determine their approach to mitigations in relation to vocational and technical qualifications. This is to account for the lost teaching time and safeguard against any further disruptions in the coming academic year. The paper can be found here.

Discussions about these principles are ongoing and Ofqual plans to publish more detail in the coming weeks.     

We will continue to keep members updated, but as the situation is rapidly developing, we advise members to check the relevant web pages for Ofqual and your respective awarding organisations regularly, which may include the following:



Last updated 23 November 2020