Educator update on VTQ assessments

13 January 2021

11:30am

Dear Colleague,

I appreciate the last week was extremely challenging as you worked through implications of the Department of Education (DfE) and Ofqual guidance regarding January 2021 vocational exams. Since this guidance was released, we have been consulting very closely with DfE and Ofqual to determine the safest and fairest route forward for you, and your learners.  

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DfE update: No BTEC external assessments to take place in February or March this year

The DfE has announced today that scheduled assessments for Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs), specifically Performance Table Qualifications, will not take place in February or March this year. For schools and colleges taking Pearson qualifications, this means that external assessments for BTEC Level 2 Tech Awards, Firsts, Technicals and Level 3 Nationals will not go ahead in February or March. 

While we welcome this decision, which aligns with the position for General Qualifications and puts the safety of students and teachers first, we know that many learners and centres will be disappointed, as they have been studying hard towards being able to take the assessments.

We want to reassure BTEC learners and centres that we will put arrangements in place for students who are now unable to take their external assessments to ensure they are not disadvantaged, so that those expecting to complete their qualification this year will be able to progress. We understand that Ofqual will consult on arrangements for issuing grades this year for regulated Vocational and Technical Qualifications, as well as arrangements for external assessments due to take place in June, and will launch this consultation towards the end of this week.

We also recognise that in the past few weeks we have been dispatching assessment materials to colleges and schools for February assessments, which will no longer be used. We will contact centres shortly to make arrangements to have these returned as soon as possible.

In relation to external assessments which are scheduled 'on-demand' for qualifications including Functional Skills, Specialist Tests and EPA, we understand that these can continue to go ahead where the Public Health guidance permits this. We will keep you updated as we find out more.

For students taking assessments in January current guidance still stands

We can confirm that the DfE and Ofqual guidance for the continuation of the January vocational assessments, if deemed right to do so by individual centres, still stands from last week.

We want to ensure all those working in schools and colleges that you are supported by us regardless of the choice that is made on whether exams take place.  Where a college or school decides to offer exams, learners will be able to sit external assessments as planned and if a school or college decides not to offer vocational exams, we have agreed the following with Ofqual and the DfE to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged:

  • We will award a grade for any learner who is unable to take their exams and has enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression.
  • For learners unable to take their assessment this January, we will put in place arrangements to ensure you can receive a grade.

We are working closely with the DfE and Ofqual on all of this and we will share more detail with you in the coming days.

For internal assessment Standards Verification processes will continue

Finally, in addition to the announcements regarding external assessments, we know that centres will be looking for clarity on how Internal Assessments for BTECs will be managed this year. We can confirm that our Standards Verification processes for internal assessments will continue with the current adaptations. Centres can find out more if needed.

If you have any questions or need support, please contact us.

We appreciate this must be a very difficult time for you and hope that this update provides you with some clarity and reassurance that learners will not be disadvantaged.

We will update you with further information soon. Thank you for your continued patience, support and collaboration during these unprecedented times.

Best wishes,

Cindy Rampersaud
Senior Vice President
BTEC and Apprenticeships

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