Consultation outcome

Exceptional arrangements for assessment and grading in 2020

This consultation has concluded

Download the full outcome

Detail of outcome

We summarise below the decisions we have taken following our consultation.

Extraordinary regulatory framework

  • we will publish an extraordinary framework to permit approaches to issuing results that are not normally allowed by the General Conditions

  • the extraordinary framework will apply in addition to the General Conditions, but where an awarding organisation could not comply with both, it must prioritise compliance with the extraordinary framework for those qualifications that are in scope

Scope – Which qualifications are covered?

  • our extraordinary framework will apply to qualifications:
    • covered by the Secretary of State’s direction, covering those which are eligible for funding by ESFA, including qualifications:
      • at Entry level to Level 6
      • designed for progression to FE/HE or to and through employment
      • which are subject to public funding in England
      • other general qualifications which were not subject to the GCSE/AS/A level direction
    • which will fall in scope in other jurisdictions
    • where awarding organisations have identified, as part of our advice process, that they have a similar qualification to one which appears on the Secretary of State’s list (that is, where the qualification titles are the same)
  • we have published an interactive tool to help identify which specific qualifications are covered
  • we have published guidance for qualifications that are outside of this scope
  • where it is possible to deliver assessments as normal, awarding organisations can continue to do so

Learners - Which learners are covered?

  • all learners taking assessments for qualifications that are in scope and are due to receive a result this summer are covered by the arrangements under the extraordinary framework. This includes:
    • learners of any age or year group
    • learners not subject to public funding
    • learners in year 1 of a 2-year course of study
    • private candidates and those who were not yet registered with an awarding organisation to take an assessment, but who were expecting to do so during the summer period

Concepts and principles:

  • decisions taken under the extraordinary framework must be taken in line with the following principles, which should be prioritised in the order set out:
    • Principle 1 – issue results to as many learners as possible in spring/summer 2020, provided that those results are based on evidence which ensures that they are sufficiently valid and reliable
    • Principle 2 – ensure that each result it issues is as reliable as possible
    • Principle 3 – ensure that its approach minimises burden and maximises deliverability as far as possible
    • Principle 4 – maintain standards, as far as possible, within the same qualification in line with previous years
    • Principle 5 – maintain standards, as far as possible, across similar qualifications made available by the awarding organisation and by other awarding organisation
  • awarding organisations will also have to comply with their equalities and malpractice obligations as set out in the General Conditions of Recognition

Categories of qualifications:

  • we will categorise qualifications, which will inform the approach that is most likely to be taken. Qualifications in scope will fall into one of the following categories:
    • category 1 - qualifications used for progression to further or higher education
      • starting point calculation, fall back of adaptation, last resort delay
    • category 2 - qualifications serving a mixed purpose
      • starting point if qualification is closer to a progression to FE/HE qualification – calculation, fall back of adaptation
      • starting point if qualification is closer to an occupational competence qualification – starting point adaptation
    • category 3 - qualifications signalling occupational competence
      • starting point adaptation, fall back of delay
  • we have published an interactive tool to help identify which specific qualifications are in which category

Calculated results:

  • where possible and appropriate, learners will receive a calculated result for their assessment
  • calculated results will be based on:
    • a centre assessment grade for each learner (generated by the centre) and/or a calculated grade (determined by the awarding organisation) based on the evidence they already hold for the learner
    • quality assurance of the overall calculated result (which is derived from the centre assessment grade and/or any awarding organisation calculated grade)
    • a check on overall qualification level outcomes and grade profile, and that it is in line with expectations

Adapted assessments:

  • where it is not possible or appropriate to calculate a result, awarding organisations can offer adapted assessments
  • when offering adapted assessments, awarding organisations must:
    • take all necessary steps to minimise risks to validity by ensuring that coverage of the key areas of the construct of the qualification is retained within the adapted assessment
    • act only within the limits of their capacity and capability and take all necessary steps to minimise the burden on centres and learners resulting from the introduction of adaptations to assessments
    • give due regard to any specific requirements put in place by professional and sector bodies when making judgements about adaptations
    • ensure, as far as possible, that any adaptations minimise any disadvantage to learners with a protected characteristic

Delayed assessment:

  • where it is not possible or appropriate to issue a calculated result or offer an adapted assessment, awarding organisations can delay assessments

Record keeping and oversight:

  • awarding organisations will need to keep records of the decisions they take under the extraordinary regulatory framework
  • awarding organisations will need to have regard to any advice we provide in writing as part of our oversight of their approaches

Autumn 2020 assessment opportunity:

  • where an autumn assessment opportunity is normally available, awarding organisations must take all reasonable steps to make that opportunity available in autumn 2020
  • where an autumn assessment opportunity is not normally made available awarding organisations must consider making assessment opportunities available where there are learners who need them, unless doing so would be impractical or create disproportionate burden
  • we will be able to require awarding organisations to make an assessment available if necessary

Appeals:

  • awarding organisations must allow appeals on the basis that the awarding organisation did not apply procedures consistently or that procedures were not followed properly and fairly, in line with the General Conditions
  • awarding organisations will not be expected to consider appeals submitted by individual learners or their representatives unless that is the only way to secure an effective appeal
  • we have issued guidance which explains that it would not be appropriate to allow appeals relating to the professional judgements of teachers and centres

Certificates:

  • awarding organisations should issue certificates (where appropriate) as normal, and should not refer on the certificate to a result having being determined under the arrangements in the extraordinary framework

Private learners:

  • where possible and relevant, awarding organisations should seek to issue results for private candidates as they would for other learners

Unregistered learners:

  • awarding organisations should take steps to identify the learners who intended to take an assessment this summer

Qualifications taken internationally:

  • awarding organisations may:
    • apply the approach in the extraordinary framework where appropriate and manageable, or
    • continue to follow the approach in the General Conditions if this is more appropriate based on the needs of the specific international market

Awarding organisations facing financial difficulties:

  • awarding organisations should continue to follow the requirements of the General Conditions in these circumstances

Functional Skills qualifications:

  • awarding organisations should seek to issue calculated results where possible, but may offer adapted or delayed assessments if a calculated result is not possible
  • the regulation end date for legacy Functional Skills qualifications will be extended to 31 December 2020

Feedback received

Detail of feedback received

There were 1,512 complete responses to our consultation; 1,508 were received through our online form and 4 by email. These responses are summarised in this document.

Original consultation

Summary

Consultation on the assessment and grading of vocational, technical and other general qualifications.

This consultation ran from
to

Consultation description

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a range of exams and assessments in vocational and technical qualifications being cancelled as result of schools, colleges and training providers closing.

We have set out our proposals for awarding other general, vocational and technical qualifications in Summer 2020 and are now consulting on what we have outlined.

In our consultation we are seeking views on a number of features of the exceptional arrangements for awarding vocational and technical qualifications in 2020.

Our proposed approach will also cover any general qualification not covered by the approach we are (separately) consulting on in relation to GCSEs, AS and A levels.

We are introducing these exceptional arrangements at speed to:

  • provide a framework for qualifications that, depending on their purpose, sets out how an awarding organisation should calculate results or adapt or delay assessments
  • allow awarding organisations to provide clarity to schools, colleges and training providers about what evidence they should gather and consider, and what evidence they will submit to the awarding organisations, where required to calculate a grade
  • allow awarding organisations to make clear which learners should receive a calculated result (and how it will be awarded), or be required to complete an assessment
  • enable awarding organisations to access, adapt, or build the systems needed to issue results this summer and adapt assessments where this is necessary

We are hopeful that, through these arrangements, the majority of learners who planned to take exams and assessments this summer, for progression to either further or higher education or employment, will receive a result calculated by awarding organisations or be able to take an adapted assessment. Where it is not possible to receive a calculated result, or to undertake an adapted assessment, assessment opportunities and results might need to be delayed.

The consultation will run for 2 weeks from 24 April 2020 to 8 May 2020.

Documents

Exceptional arrangements for assessment and grading in 2020

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Consultation summary - exceptional arrangements for assessment and grading in 2020

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VTQ COVID-19 exceptional regulatory framework

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Published 24 April 2020
Last updated 22 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated to include consultation outcomes and response documents.

  2. First published.