An overview of planned adaptations for Essential Skills Qualifications for 2020/21

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in disruption to education and training during spring and summer 2020. Public health restrictions are likely to be in place during 2020/21, and further disruption may occur on a localised basis.

The Asset Management Group (AMG) will continue to review the situation at regular intervals to take account of public health advice and the Covid-19 situation – but the intention is to work back towards teaching, learning and assessment as normal.

To mitigate the disruption to teaching, learning and assessment of the Essential Skills Wales qualifications, the AMG have agreed to the following arrangements have been agreed with Qualifications Wales

These arrangements update and replace any previous arrangements communicated by the ESW awarding bodies. It is recognised that these arrangements may still present challenges for some centres; however, in putting these in place, the ESW awarding bodies have considered both the pathway for a return to the standard assessment model, alongside issues relating to the manageability, validity and reliability of the Essential Skills Wales qualifications.

There is no adaptation applied to Entry Level Essential Skills Qualifications. Candidates working towards any of the ESW qualifications at entry level must be assessed using the existing rules for invigilation as specified by each awarding body.

The Asset Management Group will continue to monitor and review any ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and their potential to disrupt learner access to assessment with a view to returning to the standard assessment model when it is feasible to do so.

All four awarding bodies continue to explore remote invigilation opportunities for ESW qualifications and updates will be provided in due course.

Following discussions with Qualification Wales, it has been agreed that the adaptations in place for Essential Communication Skills and Essential Application of Number Skills at Levels 1, 2 and 3, will be extended.

The current arrangements, which allow learners to achieve certification for these qualifications on passing the Confirmatory Test only, will remain in place until 31 August 2021.

The expectation is that centres will continue to deliver teaching and learning across the whole curriculum, to give learners the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace or in any further studies. This extension will mean that centres should have adequate time to ensure that learners have covered the full range of skills within each qualification, before they sit the confirmatory test.

This extension is a mitigation put in place specifically to address the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. With effect from 1 September 2021, all Essential Skills qualifications will revert to the standard assessment, meaning that both the task and the test will need to be completed for Essential Communication Skills and Essential Application of Number Skills.

The existing arrangements for Essential Digital Literacy Skills and Essential Employability Skills, which have already been communicated to centres, will also continue until 31 August 2021.

Essential Digital Literacy Skills at Level 1, 2 and 3

  • Candidates must successfully complete a controlled task to provide evidence to support the skills required for the successful completion of the qualification. Centres can choose from two tasks that will be made available at each level by the awarding bodies for use during this arrangement. No other tasks should be used. This task can be assessed without formal invigilation. It is recommended that standard timeframes are adhered to. This task must be internally assessed and externally quality assured.
  • Candidates will also need to complete the structured discussion element of the task, either individually or as part of a small group. This may be carried out remotely and a recording of the discussion must be made available for external verification, together with the candidate’s preparatory notes. It is recommended that the standard assessment time allowances be adhered to.
  • This adaptation is in place until 31 August 2021

Essential Employability Skills at Levels 1, 2 and 3

  • Candidates must successfully complete the controlled task without adaptation and under supervised conditions.
  • Candidates will also need to complete the structured discussion element of the task, either individually or as part of a small group. This may be carried out remotely and a recording of the discussion must be made available for external verification, together with the candidate’s preparatory notes. It is recommended that the standard assessment time allowances be adhered to.
  • This adaptation is in place until 31 August 2021