Ofqual Handbook

Section G - Setting and delivering the assessment

Rules about setting and delivering assessments, including about the language of assessments, maintaining confidentiality of assessments, reasonable adjustments and special consideration

General Conditions of Recognition

Condition G1 - Setting the assessment

  1. G1.1 In setting an assessment for a qualification which it makes available, an awarding organisation must ensure that the content of the assessment is –
    1. (a) fit for purpose,
    2. (b) appropriate for the method of assessment chosen, and
    3. (c) consistent with the specification for that qualification.
  1. G1.2 An awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Level of Demand of an assessment for a qualification which it makes available is consistent –
    1. (a) across all options as to tasks which may be completed by a Learner for the purposes of the assessment,
    2. (b) with the Level of Demand of any other assessment which may be completed by a Learner as an alternative to the assessment, for the purpose of the qualification, and
    3. (c) with the Level of Demand of previous assessments and of any specimen assessment materials which the awarding organisation has published in relation to the qualification.

G1.3 An awarding organisation must produce a written document in relation to an assessment which sets out clear and unambiguous criteria against which Learners’ levels of attainment will be differentiated.

Condition G2 - Language of the assessment

G2.1 An awarding organisation must ensure that all Learners taking its qualifications in England are assessed in English, except to the extent that the use of another language is permitted by this condition.

G2.2 A Learner taking a qualification may be assessed in British Sign Language where it is permitted by an awarding organisation for the purpose of Reasonable Adjustment.

  1. G2.3 A Learner taking a qualification may be assessed in any other language where it is one of the primary objectives of the qualification –
    1. (a) for the Learner to gain knowledge of, skills in, and understanding of that language, or
    2. (b) to support a role in the workplace, providing that proficiency in English is not required for the role supported by the qualification.

G2.4 Where an awarding organisation makes available a qualification in more than one language, the awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that assessments in different languages ensure a consistent Level of Demand for Learners.

Condition G3 - Use of language and Stimulus Materials

G3.1 An awarding organisation must ensure that assessments for qualifications which it makes available use only appropriate language and Stimulus Materials.

  1. G3.2 Language and Stimulus Materials are only appropriate if they –
    1. (a) enable Learners to demonstrate their level of attainment,
    2. (b) require knowledge, skills and understanding which are required for the qualification,
    3. (c) are clear and unambiguous (unless ambiguity forms part of the assessment), and
    4. (d) are not likely to cause unnecessary offence to Learners.
  1. G3.3 In considering whether language and Stimulus Materials for an assessment are appropriate, an awarding organisation must take into account in particular –
    1. (a) the age of Learners who may reasonably be expected to take the qualification,
    2. (b) the level of the qualification,
    3. (c) the objective of the qualification, and
    4. (d) the knowledge, skills and understanding assessed for the qualification.

G3.4 An awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that no assessment for a qualification which it makes available contains language or Stimulus Materials which could lead a group of Learners who share a common attribute or circumstance to experience – because of that attribute or circumstance – an unreasonable disadvantage in the level of attainment that they are able to demonstrate in the assessment.

Condition G4 - Maintaining confidentiality of assessment materials, including the conduct of specified training events

  1. G4.1 Where confidentiality in –
    1. (a) the contents of assessment materials, or
    2. (b) information about the assessment,
  2. is required in order to ensure that a qualification which an awarding organisation makes available, or proposes to make available, reflects an accurate measure of attainment, the awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that such confidentiality is maintained.
  1. G4.2 In particular, an awarding organisation –
    1. (a) must take all reasonable steps to ensure that such confidentiality is maintained where it (or any person connected or previously connected to it) provides training or training materials in relation to such a qualification,
    2. (b) must not provide or endorse any prohibited training, and
    3. (c) must take all reasonable steps to ensure that any person connected or previously connected to it does not provide or endorse any prohibited training.
  1. G4.3 For the purposes of this condition, ‘prohibited training’ is training –
    1. (a) provided to Teachers in relation to such a qualification,
    2. (b) at which a number of persons are present (whether physically or remotely by means of simultaneous electronic communication),
    3. (c) where any one of those persons holds information in relation to the content of assessment materials or information about the assessment for that qualification, and
    4. (d) where disclosure of the information to Teachers would breach such confidentiality.
  1. G4.4 An awarding organisation must, in respect of any training it provides to Teachers in relation to such a qualification (and, in relation to any such training provided by any person connected to it, must take all reasonable steps to) –
    1. (a) ensure that the training is reasonably available to all Teachers preparing Learners, or persons likely to become Learners, for assessments for that qualification,
    2. (b) advertise to Teachers the availability of the training, including in particular by publishing details of the training, and
    3. (c) publish the content of any training materials which have been provided to Teachers in connection with the training, as soon as reasonably practicable after the training has been held.

G4.5 An awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that no person connected to it, or previously connected to it, offers to disclose information about any assessment or the content of any assessment materials where that information is (or is said or implied to be) confidential.

  1. G4.6 Where any breach of such confidentiality (including through the loss or theft of confidential assessment materials) is either suspected by an awarding organisation or alleged by any other person and where there are reasonable grounds for that suspicion or allegation, the awarding organisation must:
    1. (a) investigate that breach,
    2. (b) ensure that such an investigation is carried out rigorously, effectively, and by persons of appropriate competence who have no personal interest in its outcome, and
    3. (c) so far as possible, establish whether or not a breach of such confidentiality has occurred.

Condition G5 - Registration of Learners

  1. G5.1 An awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that –
    1. (a) each Learner taking a qualification which the awarding organisation makes available is registered in a way that permits the Learner to be clearly and uniquely identified, and
    2. (b) where the identity of a Learner has not previously been confirmed to the awarding organisation, or the Centre at which the assessment will take place, arrangements are in place to confirm the Learner’s identity.

Condition G6 - Arrangements for Reasonable Adjustments

G6.1 For the purposes of this condition, Reasonable Adjustments are adjustments made to an assessment for a qualification so as to enable a disabled Learner to demonstrate his or her knowledge, skills and understanding to the levels of attainment required by the specification for that qualification.

G6.2 An awarding organisation must, in accordance with Equalities Law, have in place clear arrangements for making Reasonable Adjustments in relation to qualifications which it makes available.

  1. G6.3 An awarding organisation must publish details of its arrangements for making Reasonable Adjustments, which must include details as to –
    1. (a) how a Learner qualifies for a Reasonable Adjustment, and
    2. (b) what Reasonable Adjustment will be made.

Condition G7 - Arrangements for Special Consideration

  1. G7.1 For the purposes of this condition, Special Consideration is consideration to be given to a Learner who has temporarily experienced –
    1. (a) an illness or injury, or
    2. (b) some other event outside of the Learner’s control, which has had, or is reasonably likely to have had, a material effect on that Learner’s ability to take an assessment or demonstrate his or her level of attainment in an assessment.

G7.2 An awarding organisation must have in place clear arrangements for Special Consideration to be given to Learners in relation to qualifications which it makes available.

  1. G7.3 An awarding organisation must publish details of its arrangements for giving Special Consideration, which must include details as to –
    1. (a) how a Learner qualifies for Special Consideration, and
    2. (b) what Special Consideration will be given.

Condition G8 - Completion of the assessment under the required conditions

  1. G8.1 An awarding organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure that, in relation to qualifications which it makes available –
    1. (a) evidence generated by a Learner in an assessment is generated by that Learner (or includes evidence generated by that Learner as a contribution to group work), and
    2. (b) where an assessment is required to be completed under specified conditions, Learners complete the assessment under those conditions (other than where any Reasonable Adjustments or Special Consideration require alternative conditions).

Condition G9 - Delivering the assessment

G9.1 An awarding organisation must ensure that every assessment for a qualification that it makes available is delivered effectively and efficiently.

  1. G9.2 An awarding organisation must ensure that, on delivery of every assessment for a qualification that it makes available, the assessment:
    1. (a) is fit for purpose,
    2. (b) permits Reasonable Adjustments to be made, while minimising the need for them,
    3. (c) allows each Learner to generate evidence which can be Authenticated,
    4. (d) allows each specified level of attainment detailed in the specification to be reached by a Learner who has attained the required level of knowledge, skills and understanding, and
    5. (e) allows Assessors to be able to differentiate accurately and consistently between a range of attainments by Learners.
  1. G9.3 An awarding organisation must ensure that, on delivery of every assessment for a qualification that it makes available, the content of the assessment:
    1. (a) is fit for purpose,
    2. (b) is appropriate for the method of assessment chosen, and
    3. (c) is consistent with the specification for that qualification.


Guidance on how to comply with these rules

Guidance on Condition G1

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • sets assessments, or where applicable, ensures that its Centres set assessments, which:
    • include only content that is drawn from the knowledge, skills and understanding in the specification and which ensure that the Level of Demand of the assessment is consistent with previous assessments;
    • make it possible for Learners to demonstrate, and the awarding organisation or Centre to measure, the extent to which they have the knowledge, skills and understanding required by the qualification;
    • allow the specified level of attainment set out in the specification to be reached by a Learner who has attained the required level of knowledge, skills and understanding;
    • use methods of assessment that are valid and are appropriate to the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured;
    • effectively differentiate between Learners (that is, solely on the basis of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed);
    • accurately measure the knowledge, skills and understanding they are intended to measure;
  • additionally, for graded qualifications, sets assessments, or ensures its Centres set assessments, which:
    • cover the full range of demands targeted by the assessment;
    • enable the full range of Learners targeted by the assessment to demonstrate the extent to which they have the knowledge, skills and understanding required by the qualification;
    • enable the awarding organisation to differentiate effectively between Learners (that is, solely on the basis of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed) across the range of attainment targeted by the assessment;
  • has a clear rationale for any optional routes through a qualification, combinations or pathways and can explain how, as far as is possible, these are comparable in terms of the Level of Demand and the amount of subject content required to be taught and on which Learners will be assessed;
  • keeps its assessments under review, amending them where necessary, to ensure they remain fit for purpose, for example by reflecting new requirements, good practice or legislation.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • sets assessments which:
    • do not allow it to measure the extent to which Learners have the knowledge, skills and understanding required by the qualification;
    • are not manageable for Centres or Learners, for example because of the availability of equipment, materials or resources;
    • discriminate between Learners on the basis of factors other than the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured by the qualification, for example because of the context in which questions/tasks are set;
    • include content which is not covered by the specification;
    • have options, routes or pathways through the qualification which are not of the same Level of Demand;
  • uses an assessment procedure which does not measure the knowledge, skills and understanding required by the qualification with sufficient accuracy;
  • does not take appropriate corrective action where it identifies assessments which do not meet these requirements.

Guidance on Condition G3

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • ensures that language and Stimulus Materials are clear, precise and understandable for Learners, unless understanding ambiguous and/or complex language is part of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed by the qualification. This could include, but is not limited to:
    • using straightforward sentence structures with accurate punctuation;
    • using language and vocabulary suitable for the level, context and subject of the assessment and for the expected age and ability of Learners;
    • avoiding unnecessarily dense text, unnecessary words, metaphors or redundant information;
    • avoiding unnecessary pictures or diagrams;
    • only using Stimulus Materials where these support valid assessment of the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured;
    • using command words which are appropriate to the level, context and subject of the assessment and using these consistently and correctly;
  • ensures that, where it uses Stimulus Materials, these:
    • are error-free, clear and easy to understand (unless dealing with ambiguity and/or understanding complex language are part of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed);
    • have a clearly defined purpose;
    • are presented in a format that is likely to be familiar to Learners (unless the interpretation of unfamiliar formats is part of the assessment);
    • use contexts that, as far as possible, do not advantage Learners that have had a particular experience over those that have not, where this experience is not a requirement of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed;
  • uses language and Stimulus Materials which allow a valid assessment of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed and which, as far as possible, allow Learners to demonstrate their level of attainment in these;
  • uses language and Stimulus Materials which do not unfairly advantage or disadvantage Learners, including those who share a particular characteristic or experience, on grounds other than their attainment of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed by the qualification. Such characteristics and experiences could include, but are not limited to:
    • the Protected Characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation;
    • experiences that are more likely to be familiar to particular cultural or social groups;
    • prior knowledge that does not form part of the knowledge, skills or understanding being assessed;
    • language comprehension where this is not part of the knowledge, skills or understanding being assessed;
  • ensures that, as far as possible, assessments are free from bias on the basis of Protected Characteristics, stereotyping, or language which may cause offence;
  • seeks feedback from Centres, gathers and analyses information (for example about complaints received and the performance of Learners) to identify issues with its use of language or Stimulus Materials;
  • uses feedback to inform its development of valid assessments and qualifications and to provide feedback and training for staff who develop assessment materials.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • uses language or Stimulus Materials which:
    • include unnecessary negative, narrow or stereotypical representations of particular groups;
    • are unnecessarily complex or irrelevant to the knowledge, skills or understanding being assessed;
    • include pictures or diagrams which are not relevant to the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed or which are not required to be able to answer questions;
    • include unclear information;
    • are open to different interpretations by Learners where such interpretation does not form part of the assessment;
  • is not aware of, or does not act appropriately to consider and where possible mitigate, circumstances where Learners or groups of Learners have been disadvantaged as a result of language or Stimulus Materials;
  • does not take action to reduce or remove any disadvantage that has been caused by its use of language or Stimulus Materials for current and future Learners.

Guidance on Condition G4

For the purposes of the guidance to this condition, a ‘senior examiner’ in respect of a qualification is a person who is employed or contracted by an awarding organisation to perform one of the roles outlined below –

  • Chair of examiners – the person responsible to the awarding organisation for maintaining standards across different specifications in a subject within a qualification and from year to year.
  • Chief examiner – the person responsible to the chair of examiners for ensuring that assessments for a qualification meet the requirements of the specification and maintain standards from one year to the next.
  • Principal examiner – in relation to each unit or Component of a qualification, the person responsible for the setting of the question paper/task and the standardisation of its marking.

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • trains relevant staff about how to protect confidential assessment materials, including during interactions with Teachers;
  • puts in place and monitors the application of confidentiality policies and processes for its staff and contractors, which include details on how to maintain confidentiality during interactions with Teachers;
  • makes sure that, where it provides training to Centres about how to set, deliver or mark assessments, the Centre is trained on how to protect confidential assessment materials and maintain confidentiality, and the training itself is designed and delivered to minimise the risk of a breach of confidentiality by the future disclosure of materials provided in connection with the training;
  • makes an electronic audio recording of all face-to-face Teacher training events and other Teacher training events such as teleconferences and webinars, or requires a verbatim note of such training, so that any concerns can be checked after the event;
  • monitors Teacher training events and other interactive Teacher training by reviewing samples of recordings or verbatim notes of them;
  • gives clear guidelines to staff and contractors about taking part in Teacher training events not provided by the awarding organisation, and takes steps to familiarise staff and contractors with these guidelines;
  • requires all current (and former) staff and contractors who have had access to confidential assessment materials in relation to a particular qualification to apply in writing for the awarding organisation’s permission before providing, endorsing or attending any Teacher training events in respect of that qualification, and only gives permission where doing so would not lead to prohibited training taking place;
  • puts all presentations and other training materials used at its Teacher training events on its website (or in a secure area of its website accessible to all Teachers for the qualification), clearly linked from the pages containing the relevant qualification specifications;
  • has on record clear terms of reference for the investigations it has undertaken into suspected or alleged breaches of confidentiality;
  • has on record a log of all allegations of breaches of confidentiality, including those that were not investigated, that it can cross-reference if new information is provided.

The awarding organisation:

  • takes all reasonable steps to ensure that resources designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners which are prepared by current (and former) staff and contractors who have confidential information in relation to that qualification do not compromise the confidentiality of assessment materials for that qualification;
  • trains relevant staff about how to protect confidential assessment materials, including during the preparation of any resources designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners, for a qualification in respect of which they have access to confidential assessment materials;
  • requires all current (and former) staff and contractors who have confidential information to notify the awarding organisation promptly of all instances in which they have been, or are currently, involved in the preparation of a resource designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners for a qualification in respect of which they have access to confidential assessment materials. This does not apply to the preparation of teaching resources or materials by a current (or former) contractor exclusively for Learners that he or she teaches;
  • monitors assessments set by all current (and former) staff and contractors who are, or have been, involved in the preparation of a resource designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners for assessments for the same qualification in respect of which they have confidential information, to ensure that the confidentiality of those assessments has not been compromised by that resource. This does not apply to the preparation of teaching resources or materials by a current (or former) contractor exclusively for Learners that he or she teaches.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • does not make sure its confidentiality policies and processes for staff and contractors are up to date and followed;
  • provides Teacher training events where current (or former) staff or contractors are present in the audience who have had access to information in relation to that qualification that was confidential and has not taken steps to ensure that the information held is no longer confidential;
  • provides material information about an assessment to Teachers at a training event that is additional to, or contradicts, its published information regarding the relevant qualification, without publishing that information as soon as reasonably practicable after the training event;
  • does not take all reasonable steps to establish whether its staff or contractors with access to material about a qualification that is confidential provide, or intend to provide, Teacher training relating to the qualification (whether privately or through another organisation);
  • has not properly evaluated, and where required, validated evidence collected during an investigation into a suspected or alleged breach of confidentiality;
  • has not contacted relevant parties that are critical to an investigation into a suspected or alleged breach of confidentiality, or to the outcomes of that investigation;
  • has not kept records and documents relating to the breach of confidentiality and the investigation for an appropriate period.

The awarding organisation:

  • does not take all reasonable steps to ensure that resources designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners which are prepared by current (and former) staff and contractors who have confidential information in relation to that qualification do not compromise the confidentiality of assessment materials for that qualification;
  • does not train relevant staff about how to protect confidential assessment materials, including during the preparation of any resources designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners, for a qualification in respect of which they have access to confidential assessment materials;
  • does not require all current (and former) staff and contractors who have confidential information to notify the awarding organisation promptly of all instances in which they have been, or are currently, involved in the preparation of a resource designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners for a qualification in respect of which they have access to confidential assessment materials. This does not apply to the preparation of teaching resources or materials by a current (or former) contractor exclusively for Learners that he or she teaches;
  • does not monitor assessments set by all current (and former) staff and contractors who are, or have been, involved in the preparation of a resource designed to support the preparation of Learners and persons likely to become Learners for assessments for the same qualification in respect of which they have confidential information, to ensure that the confidentiality of those assessments has not been compromised by that resource. This does not apply to the preparation of teaching resources or materials by a current (or former) contractor exclusively for Learners that he or she teaches.

Guidance on Condition G6

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • is aware, and ensures that its staff are aware, of its responsibilities under Equalities Law (including maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of any changes);
  • engages with relevant stakeholders and representative groups to make sure its arrangements for Reasonable Adjustments meet its responsibilities on an ongoing basis;
  • considers the Reasonable Adjustments any disabled Learners might need;
  • where decisions about Reasonable Adjustments are delegated to Centres, ensures that, through its agreement with Centres, its arrangements for Reasonable Adjustments are delivered effectively;
  • makes information available to Centres and Learners about:
    • entitlements under equalities law for disabled learners to request a Reasonable Adjustment and any restrictions that apply to this;
    • how to apply for a Reasonable Adjustment;
    • the evidence that should support the application for a Reasonable Adjustment;
    • the timelines for applying for a Reasonable Adjustment;
    • how the awarding organisation will decide whether a Learner should be given a particular Reasonable Adjustment;
    • how a Reasonable Adjustment will be made and any information, such as about equipment or time, the Centre needs to be able to do this; and
    • the process for Centres or Learners to appeal against an awarding organisation’s decision not to make a Reasonable Adjustment or a specific Reasonable Adjustment;
  • makes Reasonable Adjustments available so that disabled Learners can demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding;
  • considers each application or request for a Reasonable Adjustment on the basis of relevant information, or ensures that Centres do this where the decision has been delegated and:
    • applies appropriate criteria, which are clear and consistent for determining each application;
    • where it rejects an application, provides a clear reason to the Centre or Learner and, where appropriate, suggests suitable alternative Reasonable Adjustments to those requested;
    • provides a process for the Centre or Learner to appeal against its decision;
    • keeps a record of the decisions it makes;
  • does not make, or allow Centres to make, a Reasonable Adjustment which:
    • would prevent the qualification from providing a reliable indication of the extent to which a Learner has the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured;
    • would alter the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured as opposed to the way they are demonstrated; or
    • unfairly advantages or disadvantages any Learner or group of Learners, whether or not they have had a Reasonable Adjustment applied;
  • collects and analyses data on the number of requests for Reasonable Adjustments made and approved. This could include, for example, requests for each qualification or Centre;
  • collects and analyses information about complaints about Reasonable Adjustments or about decisions relating to them;
  • uses information, intelligence and data to identify and prevent potential misuse of Reasonable Adjustments by Centres and acts on any findings;
  • monitors each Centre’s application and use of Reasonable Adjustments and takes action where it is not making Reasonable Adjustments appropriately. The checks are regular and detailed enough to identify potential misuse of Reasonable Adjustments;
  • reviews and evaluates the effectiveness of its arrangements for Reasonable Adjustments, taking account of its own data and monitoring, information from Centres, Learners, Users of qualifications, Ofqual requirements and any other relevant guidance (for example from the Equality and Human Rights Commission) or case law. It uses this information to inform the design of its qualifications and makes necessary improvements in a timely and effective manner.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • fails to:
    • make its approach to Reasonable Adjustments clear;
    • make appropriate Reasonable Adjustments available;
    • determine requests for Reasonable Adjustments in a fair, timely and consistent way;
    • consider requests for Reasonable Adjustments from Centres or Learners;
    • respond appropriately to complaints about its arrangements for Reasonable Adjustments;
    • ensure that where it delegates decisions on Reasonable Adjustments to Centres, the Centre follows its requirements;
  • does not make appropriate Reasonable Adjustments available that allow Learners to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding being measured;
  • does not understand or comply with its duties under Equalities Law to make Reasonable Adjustments;
  • makes a Reasonable Adjustment which is prohibited by Ofqual’s specifications under section 96 of the Equality Act 2010;
  • does not monitor, in a way that would enable it to identify any misuse, how centres are using Reasonable Adjustments;
  • approves, or allows Centres to approve, requests for Reasonable Adjustments which:
    • are not based on sufficient evidence of how the Learner’s disability affects their ability to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured; or
    • unfairly advantage or disadvantage any Learner or group of Learners, whether or not they have had a Reasonable Adjustment applied;
  • rejects, or allows Centres to reject, requests for Reasonable Adjustments which meet the criteria it has set out for that Reasonable Adjustment to be applied, or does not provide a clear reason to the Centre or Learner where it rejects a request.

Guidance on Condition G7

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • sets out clearly the types of Special Consideration, if any, that are appropriate for each qualification for Learners who have suffered an illness, injury or other event outside of their control. Special Consideration could include, but is not limited to:
    • an adjustment to a Learner’s mark for a Learner whose performance in an assessment has been affected;
    • an adjustment to the arrangements for accessing an assessment for a Learner who is not disabled, but whose ability to access the assessment has been affected by an injury or illness;
    • carrying over the fee for an assessment that the Learner was unable to take to a later assessment opportunity;
  • has clear and consistent processes, which it communicates clearly to Centres or Learners, setting out:
    • whether Special Consideration is available for a particular qualification or assessment and if so the types of Special Consideration that may be made;
    • the point in the assessment process at which Special Consideration will be applied;
    • where Special Consideration is available for Learners who have not completed all of the assessments, the minimum amount of assessment evidence the Learner must have completed before a qualification can be awarded;
    • the eligibility criteria and evidence requirements to support a request for Special Consideration;
    • the process and timelines for applying for Special Consideration;
    • how the eligibility criteria will be applied in each case to make a decision about whether to approve Special Consideration for a Learner;
    • the process for Centres or Learners to appeal against a decision not to grant Special Consideration;
  • ensures that in each case where it allows Special Consideration, it is applied appropriately and consistently, balancing the need to ensure that the qualification gives a reliable indication of the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured, with the need to ensure that as far as possible, Learners are not disadvantaged because of an illness, injury, or other event outside of their control;
  • takes into account the qualification’s objective when it decides the types of Special Consideration, if any, that should be available – types of Special Consideration available could include, but are not limited to:
    • awarding additional marks where a Learner has been able to take an exam but where their performance has been affected by an illness, injury or other exceptional event outside of their control;
    • making arrangements to allow a Learner to access an exam, such as providing assistance to write in a written exam for a Learner who has suffered an injury which prevents them from writing;
    • allowing an alternative assessment opportunity for the Learner at a later date;
  • does not provide Special Consideration where this would alter or prevent the qualification from providing a reliable indication of the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured by the assessment objectives;
  • does not provide Special Consideration where this would unfairly advantage or disadvantage Learners;
  • ensures that Learners who have experienced an illness, injury or other event outside of their control, which will affect their ability to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding, are not unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged, as far as is possible, where Special Consideration is applied;
  • considers each application for Special Consideration and:
    • applies clear and consistent criteria for determining each application, so that like cases are treated alike;
    • where issues affect a whole Centre or a number of Centres (for example flooding) considers the need for consistency in similar cases, including between other relevant awarding organisations;
    • where it rejects an application, provides a clear reason to the Centre or Learner;
    • provides a process for the Centre or Learner to appeal against its decision;
    • keeps a record of the decisions it makes;
  • collects and analyses data on the number of requests for Special Consideration made and approved. This could include, for example, requests by qualification, subject and Centre and the impact of any requests approved, for example changes to overall results;
  • uses data to identify and prevent potential misuse of Special Consideration by a Centre and acts on any findings;
  • has a process in place to monitor each Centre’s applications for Special Consideration and takes action where a Centre is not using the provision appropriately. The checks are sufficiently regular and detailed to identify misuse of Special Consideration;
  • reviews and evaluates the effectiveness of its arrangements for Special Consideration, taking account of its own monitoring, information from Centres, Learners, Users of qualifications and any Ofqual requirements.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • fails to:
    • make its approach to Special Consideration clear, including, where relevant, being clear about where Special Consideration is not available;
    • determine requests for Special Consideration in a fair, timely and consistent way;
    • consider requests for Special Consideration, where it is allowed, from Centres or Learners;
    • respond appropriately to complaints about its arrangements for Special Consideration;
  • does not monitor, in a way that would enable it to identify any misuse, how Centres are using Special Consideration;
  • approves requests for Special Consideration which:
    • are not based on sufficient evidence; or
    • unfairly advantage any Learner or group of Learners, whether or not they have had a Special Consideration applied;
  • rejects requests for Special Consideration which meet the criteria it has set out for that Special Consideration to be applied.

Guidance on Condition G8

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • designs its qualifications so that:
    • the conditions under which assessments or tasks must be completed are able to be delivered by Centres and Assessors;
    • as far as is possible, the awarding organisation, Centres or Assessors can determine whether work has been produced by the Learner being assessed;
  • considers the possible risks to assessments being completed under the specified conditions or to being able to authenticate Learners’ work and designs assessments (for each assessment or subject) and tasks to mitigate these risks;
  • sets clear requirements for the conditions under which Learners must complete the assessment and communicates these clearly to Centres, ensuring appropriate guidance and support (which could include training) is provided, including for relevant Centre staff. These could include, but are not limited to, requirements for:
    • the resources or materials required for Learners to complete the assessment;
    • its expectations of Centres and their staff in relation to ensuring the assessment is completed under the required conditions and that work is completed by the Learner for whom it is submitted;
    • conducting the assessment, including where appropriate, the environment/location and conditions under which it must be completed;
    • any relevant administrative and security arrangements, such as restrictions on the timing of access to assessment materials;
    • any invigilation, supervision or verification arrangements;
    • the way in which any practical assessments must be conducted;
    • any restriction on the number of occasions on which the assessment can be undertaken;
    • the way in which any group work is assessed and how the knowledge and skills of each individual Learner should be identified;
    • the extent, if any, to which Learners can redraft or refine their work and benefit from Centre feedback;
    • how it will enforce its requirements, check that Centres follow them and the possible sanctions if they do not;
    • where Centres set and deliver assessments, ensures that Centres have in place appropriate arrangements to meet the awarding organisation’s requirements;
  • takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the Learner has produced the work being assessed. These could include, but are not limited to:
    • requiring Centres to identify Learners using methods such as photographic identification, signatures or other unique identifiers to confirm that the Learner is who they say they are;
    • requiring declarations that the work has been produced by the Learner for whom it is being submitted, for example a statement by the Learner, and/or the Centre and/or an Assessor, depending on the nature of the assessment;
    • determining the contribution made by individual Learners to group tasks and assessments;
    • making arrangements to ensure that work submitted by private/external candidates has been produced by the Learner;
    • ensuring relevant Centre and awarding organisation staff are trained on how to identify where a Learner’s work may not be their own and what to do where this is the case;
  • checks that the assessment is completed under the required conditions and that Learners have produced the work being assessed, for example by carrying out regular checks, including some unannounced, on Centres delivering assessments;
  • investigates cases where it believes its requirements are not being met and takes appropriate action where it finds evidence that this is the case. The actions it takes, combined with its monitoring arrangements, are an effective incentive for Centres to comply with their obligations;
  • keeps its processes for ensuring the assessment is completed under the required conditions and that work is produced by the Learner under review. It reviews and acts on feedback from its own monitoring, from Centres, from Ofqual and other relevant sources to improve its arrangements as necessary.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • does not take appropriate steps during the design of the qualification to remove or reduce risks that the assessment is not completed under the required conditions or that Learners’ work cannot be authenticated;
  • does not set, or make available to Centres, clear requirements setting out:
    • the conditions under which assessments must be completed;
    • arrangements for ensuring and confirming that the work being assessed is produced by the Learner;
  • sets requirements which are not manageable for Centres;
  • does not provide appropriate training or support to Centres on its requirements;
  • sets assessments which require group work where it is not possible to determine the contribution of each individual Learner;
  • credits, or allows Centres to credit, Learners for an assessment for which it cannot be satisfactorily verified that the work has been produced by that Learner;
  • allows an assessment to be taken under conditions other than those it has specified, except where a Reasonable Adjustment or Special Consideration applies;
  • does not effectively monitor, to enable it to identify where Centres are not meeting its requirements;
  • does not promptly investigate or take appropriate, effective and consistent action where there is evidence that its requirements are not being met;
  • does not make appropriate changes or improvements to its requirements where it has identified issues with its arrangements.

Guidance on Condition G9

Examples of ‘positive indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • clearly sets out how its assessments must be delivered to ensure that they are valid and delivered effectively and efficiently and communicates its requirements clearly to Centres;
  • ensures that, as far as is possible, all assessments are delivered consistently within and across Centres and in accordance with its requirements, for example by:
    • providing consistent guidance and support (which could include training) for Centres delivering assessments and tasks;
    • providing guidance to Centres about the conditions that are required to ensure that Learners have opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding under appropriate conditions, including, where appropriate, in the workplace;
  • ensures that all assessments delivered:
    • include content that covers the knowledge, skills and understanding in the specification to the extent required for a particular assessment;
    • use assessment arrangements which deliver valid assessments, whilst ensuring as far as is possible that equipment or materials required are reasonably obtainable for Centres;
    • enable Learners to demonstrate the extent to which they have the knowledge, skills and understanding required by the qualification – for graded qualifications, this should be for the full range of Learners targeted;
    • enable the awarding organisation to differentiate effectively between Learners (that is, on the basis of the knowledge, skills and understanding being assessed) – for graded qualifications this should be across the range of attainment targeted by the assessment;
    • award marks or credits that are representative of the demands of the questions/tasks;
    • can be consistently applied by Assessors, moderators and verifiers to ensure accurate and consistent judgements are made about the attainment of Learners;
  • monitors the way assessments are delivered and the use of appropriate safeguards to identify and authenticate each Learner’s work;
  • only uses group assessments where it is an effective way to assess the skills being measured and where the contribution of each Learner can be identified and authenticated;
  • monitors the delivery of assessments to ensure its requirements are being met, for example by carrying out regular checks on Centres’ practices, and takes action where this is not the case;
  • keeps its arrangements for delivering assessments under review, making changes to its arrangements where necessary to address any issues.

Examples of ‘negative indicators’ that would suggest an awarding organisation is not likely to comply

The awarding organisation:

  • delivers assessments, or permits Centres to deliver assessments, which cannot be delivered efficiently or effectively, for example because:
    • procedures or assessments add unnecessary costs (including those which are not directly incurred) to Centres or Learners;
    • resources and equipment required are not reasonably obtainable for Centres;
    • insufficient information is provided to Centres about the requirements they have to meet;
    • there is insufficient time available for Centres to deliver assessments or tasks to all Learners in line with the awarding organisation’s requirements;
  • uses assessment types in which the work of individual Learners cannot be authenticated, for example:
    • setting assessments or tasks which are completed without supervision and without suitable alternative safeguards in place;
    • setting group tasks where the contribution of individual Learners cannot be distinguished;
  • delivers assessments which do not allow it to measure the extent to which Learners have the knowledge, skills and understanding required by the qualification or which do not differentiate validly between the full range of attainment by Learners;
  • delivers assessments which discriminate between Learners on the basis of factors other than the knowledge, skills and understanding being measured by the qualification, for example:
    • because the language or vocabulary used in an assessment prevents a Learner understanding what is being assessed;
    • because a Learner who is familiar with the context in which an assessment task is set, but which is unrelated to the knowledge and skills being assessed, will be advantaged over a Learner who is unfamiliar with that context.