BTEC Higher Nationals: Distance and Blended Learning for 2020/21  | Pearson qualifications

BTEC Higher Nationals - Distance and Blended Learning for 2020-21

17 September 2020

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Pearson Higher Education Qualification (HEQ) issued Temporary Distance Learning approval for Centres so that teaching, learning and assessment for BTEC Higher National programmes could continue for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year.   

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Distance Learning for Higher Nationals refers to teaching, learning and assessment which is 100% remote or online.  As such, Distance Learning is where there is no face-to-face teaching, learning or assessment (please see How we define learning section below for more information). 

There is currently uncertainty around the world about when Centres will be able to fully re-open for students and, therefore, we have decided to extend temporary distance learning for BTEC Higher National qualifications until 2 November 2020 for Centres that have already been granted temporary distance learning approval. 

If Centres want to continue delivering distance learning after 2 November 2020, they must apply for formal Distance Learning approval via the Distance Learning Self-Assessment (DLSA). The self-assessment must comply with the Distance Learning Policy and will be assessed by Pearson Centre Management team. Centres will only be able to deliver distance learning for Higher National programmes after 2 November 2020 if their DLSA has been approved, so we invite Centres to consider their approach and formally submit their applications as soon as possible. 

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 If Centres choose to continue with blended learning after 2 November 2020, they do not have to apply for distance learning approval. Any combination of remote/online learning with face-to-face learning is classified as blended learning.  

Please note that if Centres choose to deliver through distance learning, they will be expected to complete within the usual full-time or part-time timeframes for either the Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND).   

How we define learning  

There are different terms used in the Higher Education sector globally referring to teaching, learning and assessment that takes place in classrooms, digitally, and remotely. The QAA have issued a guide, and we also provide definitions below relating to the Higher Nationals qualification suite.  

Distance Learning  Face-to-Face (F2F)  Blended Learning

Distance Learning refers to a system of teaching, learning and assessment that is conducted 100% online.


With distance learning, students may have interactive contact with tutors and other students through online channels, but will not engage in learning together at the same physical site.


Typically, a distance learning student will be registered at a Centre but never physically attend that Centre for learning.  

Face-to-face learning refers to the system of learning whereby students are physically present at the Centre for the learning. 


Tutors and students typically engage within the Centre in classrooms, workshops, laboratories and other learning spaces with the necessary teaching facilities and equipment.  


Students will conduct some of their learning and assessment at home and online, as per Guided Learning Hours. However, the core learning engagement remains Centre-based and face-to-face. 

Blended Learning refers to a combination of Distance and F2F learning.


Typically, the student will continue to physically attend the Centre for some aspects of their teaching, learning and assessment, but will have a greater number of hours than regular F2F, supported by online learning materials, including lectures, seminars and other learning activities.  


Centres that undertake blended learning for their programmes do not have to apply for Distance Learning approval.

Please note that Pearson may update its Distance Learning Policy and guidelines, and Centres will be contacted with the relevant information. 

Collaborative Provision  

If Centres intend to offer distance learning as a part of a collaborative agreement with other institutions, they must do so as part of the approval process and advise how the collaboration will operate. Delivery of BTEC Higher Nationals programmes cannot start prior to approval being granted by Pearson. 

If you require more information regarding the above, please contact us via Pearson Support


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