Response to joint DfE and Ofqual consultation outcome for Learners

Thu Feb 25 16:15:00 UTC 2021

Dear Learners,

How your Vocational Qualifications will be awarded in 2021

We appreciate that the start of this year has been one of uncertainty about your learning and how you will receive your 2021 qualifications.  We are now able to let you know how your qualifications will be assessed and rewarded.

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BTEC Level 2 Tech Awards, Firsts, Technicals* and Level 3 Nationals*

If you were due to be awarded one of these qualifications this year, our priority is to ensure that you are not disadvantaged, and that you can progress alongside those students taking General Qualifications (GCSEs and A levels) in 2021.

Teacher-led internal assessment has always been a large part of how BTECs are graded, so we will be using this established assessment process to underpin the way we award qualification results this year. For certificating learners (those who were due to finish their qualification this year), this teacher-led internal assessment will be combined with a new assessment process for this year called a Qualification-level ‘Teacher Assessed Grade’ (TAG) (where your school or college will use evidence across the breadth of your course to recommend your final qualification grade). We will be issuing follow-up guidance next week, to your school or college, to let them know how to do this. 

If you sat your exams in January, but feel you did not perform as you’d hoped, please do not worry, your centre will be permitted to take this into consideration when putting forward their Qualification-level TAG. If you were not able to sit your exams, for any reason, your school or college will review the evidence from across your time on your course to inform your Qualification-level TAG.

Your school or college will continue to deliver teaching, learning, and conduct internal assessments this year, so that you can continue to ‘bank’ your performance for the units you have completed. These ‘banked’ units will be used by your college or school to determine your Qualification-level TAG, alongside coursework and exams that you have completed while studying for your BTEC. If you are not due to complete your BTEC this year, it’s still important to ‘bank’ unit performance as these grades will be used to inform your qualification grade when you do complete your course.

BTEC Higher Nationals

For BTEC Higher Nationals, we are encouraging your tutors to continue to deliver and assess you, wherever it is feasible and safe to do so. We have also let them know that the guidance we have already issued to them will continue to apply for these qualifications.

*Qualifications which assess occupational competence or lead to a License to Practise

If your qualification awards you a License to Practise, there will be no change in how those of you studying for these qualifications will be assessed. Your assessments will continue in line with any adaptations your schools or college has already made.  

Functional Skills and other Skills Qualifications

For those of you studying a Functional Skills qualification, these assessments will continue where it is safe to do so. If your centre has specific challenges in offering assessments this year, we will work with them to find alternative arrangements to award you a grade this year. We will be providing your centre with more details about these arrangements as soon as possible.

Why has the way you will be assessed changed?

The assessment process has changed in response to the cancellation of external assessments due to take place in February, March and June of this year. The decision on how you will now be assessed was guided by Ofqual and the Department for Education, following a consultation to which Awarding Organisations, schools, colleges, learners, parents and employers were asked to contribute. The DfE and Ofqual have published the outcome of that consultation today.  

Today, we have also written to all schools, colleges and centres to outline what the outcome of the consultation means for them. In the next week or so we will be following up with them with more details on processes and procedures. Although your school, college or centre will be best placed to advise you on how the new assessment arrangements will work in your specific case, you are welcome to contact us with any questions you may have:

We appreciate this must be a very difficult time for you and hope that this update provides you with some clarity and reassurance.

We will update you with further information soon.

Thank you for your continued patience during these unprecedented times.

Best wishes,

Cindy Rampersaud
Senior Vice President, BTEC & Apprenticeships

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