ESF Information Memo 19/20 - Vocational and technical qualifications: alternative awarding arrangements

This memo is intended to provide an update with respect to the ongoing work in relation to the alternative awarding arrangements for Vocational and Technical qualifications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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European Social Fund Northern Ireland logo containing text "European Union, European Social Fund, Northern Ireland"

Vocational and technical qualifications

Alternative awarding arrangements

I am writing to provide you with a brief update with respect to the ongoing work in relation to the alternative awarding arrangements for Vocational and Technical qualifications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All vocational qualifications, including those offered by some ESF beneficiaries, fall under the remit of the Department for the Economy (DfE). The Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds MLA, announced on 23 April 2020 that it is her intention that vocational learners who need to receive results in the summer in order to progress onto the next steps in their education and/or careers are enabled to do so, where possible. Since then, significant work has been taken forward by CCEA Regulation with the relevant awarding organisations operating in Northern Ireland to ensure that arrangements are in place for awarding to reflect the Minister’s instruction.

Awarding organisations have commenced issuing instructions and guidance in order to collect data on which awards can be made, and have been made aware of the 30 June as the end of term date in Northern Ireland for main training providers. CCEA Regulation will monitor the awarding arrangements of awarding organisations throughout June, July and August until the issue of results for those qualifications in scope under these exceptional awarding arrangements.

There are a number of helpful pieces of information available on the CCEA website and an online interactive tool which maps out a range of relevant Vocational and Technical Qualification information for both learners and training providers. A letter from Sharon King, Head of Regulation within CCEA, to Heads of Centres is attached at Appendix 1 for you information.

City and Guilds has confirmed that it can extend the submission of adapted assessment until 30 September 2020. See Appendix 2 for information.

CCEA Regulation has also collated a summary of submission dates for assessed grades which can be found CCEA website - submission dates. In addition, please continue to check your awarding organisations’ websites for information as these can be updated regularly.

I hope this is useful. If you have any specific issues or queries in respect of the alternative awarding arrangements for Vocation and Technical qualifications, you can contact CCEA regulation directly at ccearegulation@ccea.org.uk.

Regards,  

Annie McGowan
Head of ESF Project Delivery Branch

Appendix 1: Note to Heads of Centre from Sharon King, CCEA

Dear Head of Centre

We recognise that the past few weeks have been particularly challenging for centres due to the exceptional awarding arrangements around vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs), centre closures and having social distancing measures in place.

We have been working with awarding organisations (AOs) operating in NI to ensure that arrangements are in place for awarding to reflect the ministerial direction announced on 23 April. AOs have commenced issuing instructions and guidance in order to collect the data on which awards can be made, and have been made aware of the 30 June as the end of term date in NI for many centres.

CCEA Regulation will monitor the awarding arrangements of AOs throughout June, July and August until issue of results, for those qualifications in scope under these exceptional awarding arrangements.

It’s an extremely busy time for centres. We have collated the following information on our website to signpost you to what you need to know.

Information on the app developed to inform learners of how each of their qualifications will be awarded. This will be particularly helpful for learners taking different qualifications with different AOs:

CCEA Regulation’s response confirming its alignment with the Ofqual consultation report published on 22 May. This provides reassurance that the CCEA Regulation approach is aligned with that of Ofqual in the vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs)

The Ofqual guidance published 15 May which sets out the awarding approach for VTQs:

CCEA Guidance on how Essential Skills will be awarded in summer 2020: 

Frequently asked question (FAQs) on this summer’s arrangements:

In addition, please continue to check your awarding organisations’ websites for information as these can be updated regularly. To try to ease the burden for centres regarding the different communications issued at this time, we have arranged for AO communications to be coordinated through the conduit of FAB/JCQ NI AO Forum.

The most recently gathered dates for submission of Centre Assessed Grades for Awarding Organisations can be found on the CCEA website - submission dates.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued engagement with AOs in the interests of your learners, ensuring they have opportunity to progress to the next pathway of their choice. I am certain it is greatly appreciated by the learners and their parents/carers.

Kind regards,

Sharon King
Head of Regulation

Appendix 2

City and Guilds has confirmed that it can extend the submission of adapted assessment until 30 September 2020 but that certificates will only be issued for candidates where adapted assessment outcomes are reported by 31 July. This awarding of qualifications beyond the end of August has been approved by OFQUAL under the Ofqual Extraordinary Regulatory Framework.

For evidence that is submitted beyond 31 July, it is anticipated that up to a month beyond the submission of evidence will be needed to carry out AO quality assurance and awarding processes. However, this is expected to be shortened if the centre holds Direct Claim Status for these qualifications.

This extension will apply across providers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and City & Guild plan to release revised centre guidance on 10 June setting out this position.

In line with the agreed Ministerial policy position for NI to facilitate as many VQ learners to progress as possible this summer, learning centres should continue to prioritise, where possible, the completion of adaptive assessments by 31 July for those learners who specifically require certification this summer, for example, to progress to higher education.

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