Supporting BTEC Learners following the Department for Education (DfE) announcement | Pearson qualifications

Supporting BTEC Learners following the Department for Education (DfE) announcement

Thu Dec 03 11:30:00 UTC 2020

Today, the Department for Education announced further adaptations to General Qualifications. As you will know, we have been working closely with DfE, JCQ, Ofqual and other regulators to ensure that learners studying for their BTEC qualifications are subject to the same or equivalent mitigations as their fellow students studying towards GCSE, AS and A Levels. Our priority is always to ensure fairness and parity for our BTEC learners.

We can now update you on further adaptations available for learners studying BTEC qualifications in the academic year 2020/21. 

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Reduced Optional Unit Assessment 

In October we said that if disruption to teaching, learning and assessment increased on a regional and national basis, we would look to put further adaptations in place to reduce assessments on optional units. 

As BTEC qualifications are modular, with a number of internal optional assessments, we believe that, in most cases, the reduction to optional assessment provides an appropriate solution to the challenges that you and other learning providers are facing.

In line with the DfE’s announcement today, we are pleased to confirm that this has now been approved and the reduction to optional assessments will apply to most qualifications in the following suites:

  • BTEC Nationals QCF and RQF
  • BTEC Firsts

It will apply nationally to learners certificating in Summer 2021, and learners who are registered in 2020 and will be certificating in Summer 2022. We will be publishing further guidance in our VQ Bulletins over the coming weeks. 

While we wait for this additional detail, please be reminded that teaching and learning should take place, as far as possible, under the current circumstances, and that all mandatory content needs to be taught and assessed.

The reduction in optional assessment is not under the Special Considerations category. We will publish further information about Special Considerations in our VQ Bulletin shortly.

There will be no optional unit reduced assessment for the following BTEC qualifications:

  • BTEC Tech Awards
  • BTEC Technicals
  • BTEC Level 1 and below

We have already confirmed the adaptations available for these qualifications. These can be found here.

How do the measures announced by DfE apply to BTEC learners?

We know that it is essential that learners experience the impact of mitigations in a fair and consistent way, regardless of whether they are studying towards Vocational or General Qualifications.  

We have summarised the measures announced by DfE today in the table below with an explanation of how these will apply to BTEC. 

DfE announced measures How this will be applied to BTEC
Generosity in awarding outcomes for learners, in line with 2020 standards. This will apply to BTEC. We will look to adopt similar principles to those of General Qualifications where the purposes of the qualifications are the same.
Students and teachers will be given advance notice of some of the topic areas that will be covered in the exams. This will not be applied to BTEC examinations.  BTEC will instead be allowing a reduction in the assessment of optional units. Teachers have been encouraged to deliver mandatory content first, so that this content can be assessed. As the external assessment for BTEC usually forms a smaller proportion of the qualification, a reduction to the number of internal assessments a learner completes is a more appropriate adaptation for BTEC qualifications.
In some subjects, exam aids, such as formula sheets, will be provided on the day of exams, relieving students of the burden of memorising all the information they would normally. Formulas will continue to be provided for assessments where these are required. Additionally, the assessment windows for some task-based assessments have already been extended to allow learners more time to complete the assessment. Details of the adaptations to BTEC external assessments can be found here
There will be a provision of ‘contingency papers’ where learners have not been able to undertake any assessment, with reason, in order to gain a qualification. BTEC is built on modular assessment with the majority of content centre-assessed and quality assured by Pearson. As such, there is no need to provide ‘contingency papers’ for the external assessments.  Students will always have been able to undertake some form of assessment which will allow us to award a grade in the exceptional circumstance that they are unable to sit any of their examinations (see next measure).  As for many qualifications there will be two opportunities available for the external assessments. If an external assessment is missed with reason, learners should be encouraged to take the assessment at the next available opportunity and only where this isn’t possible, Special Considerations can be used. This is in line with the existing process, to ensure learners can gain their qualification
Students who miss an exam due to self-isolation or sickness, but who have completed a proportion of their assessments for a qualification will be awarded a grade using the assessments they did complete. This will apply to BTEC as we have described above. More guidance will follow.
Students who may be shielding and unable to take their exam in a school or other setting will be supported to sit their exams, for example, at home. Due to the modular nature of BTECs, external assessments are usually offered more than once per year. BTEC examinations should be attempted in one of the available sessions in 2021. If this is not possible, with good reason, Special Consideration can be requested. 

As always, please contact us via our Support Portal if you have any questions, and a member of the team will be happy to help. You can also find our Frequently Asked Questions section on the website which is regularly updated.   
We appreciate that this is a lot of information to absorb but we hope you find this useful. Thank you for your continued support and patience.  We will continue to keep you updated.


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