Delivering Higher Nationals during Covid-19 (for centres based in the UK)

27 March 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has provided a set of unforeseen challenges for Pearson-approved centres delivering BTEC Higher Nationals. This update provides centres with information and guidance on:

  • UK External Examinations
  • Ofqual and Department for Education
  • programme approvals and re-approvals
  • deferral of Annual Student Survey
  • distance Learning delivery
  • Higher Nationals training.

If your centre is located outside of the UK, please read the update for International centres.

Read more

UK External Examination for 2019/20 and Contact with Allocated External Examiner (EE)

We recognise the concerns raised by our customers. Whilst we work with the Department for Education (DfE), other Awarding Organisations (AOs), and with Ofqual in order to align our approach, we have asked all BTEC EEs to stop contacting their allocated centres until further notice. EEs have been instructed not to carry out any sampling until further notice. 

We will update you on how External Examination will progress for 2019/20 as soon as we are able. 

Notification of New EE Allocations

If you receive an automated notification of a new EE allocation, no action is required until further notice.

Update on Pearson’s activities with Ofqual and DfE

We continue to work closely with Ofqual, the DfE and also other AOs to ensure approaches to quality assurance activity are applied consistently. For our BTEC vocational qualifications, we will do our utmost to award grades to students finishing this academic year - supporting students to progress, recognising their learning and hard work - that is our priority and commitment to students and centre staff. Should you have any further questions, please raise them via our Customer Support Portal. We’re doing our best to provide you with the answers as soon as possible. Thank you for your continued support.

New programme approval for centres

Programme approvals will continue via a desk-based review process. Photographic evidence may be required to support applications and, where necessary a virtual tour of the facilities may be required. 

Programme re-approvals

Most re-approvals will be reviewed remotely. However if a centre has been deemed at risk for any reason (and would normally therefore require a visit), centres will be asked to provide video or photographic evidence. This will then be confirmed by the External Examiner at the sampling stage when visits begin again.

Deferral of Annual Student Survey 

The launch of the Higher National Annual Student Survey, which was originally planned for April 8 2020, has now been postponed. Further updates will follow by email and will also be provided through HN Global.

Distance learning delivery

It is understandable that centres will still want to continue their teaching and learning if possible. Pearson wants to provide as much support as possible to centres to ensure that the quality of learning is not compromised. 

In order to monitor and support distance learning we will need all centres delivering Higher Nationals that have transferred, or have plans to transfer their teaching online, to complete the temporary distance learning form linked below. Given the unprecedented situation it will not be necessary to seek prior approval from Pearson to deliver via online distance learning.

We advise all centres to read the Distance Learning and Assessment Policy and to check Appendix A: Distance Learning Self-Assessment (on pages 7-13) to see the general expectations for distance learning. Please note that existing registration cap numbers will apply for each centre, and applications for student number increases can be made through hnqa@pearson.com.  

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HN training 

Training which would normally be offered face-to-face, both generic and subject specific, will now be available as online sessions. 

We are updating our training page to reflect this; in the interim you can view all virtual training sessions by selecting ‘International’ filter on the left. 

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