Today the Government announced the policy and scope of awarding vocational and technical qualifications in 2021. Ofqual also confirmed that it will implement a new principles-based qualifications framework, the Vocational Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF).
The VCRF will apply to all regulated qualifications (Entry level to Level 6) apart from GCSEs, AS and A levels, apprenticeship end-point assessments, Project qualifications and the Advanced Extension Award. Access to HE Diplomas will not be in scope of this new framework.
Ofqual proposes to withdraw the ERF and the Extended ERF, but proposes to carry forward provisions which are still relevant to the 2021 context into the VCRF.
Which learners are in scope?
Any learners who had expected to undertake an assessment and receive a result from 1 August 2020 to 31 August 2021 are in scope of this arrangement.
The qualifications in scope include qualifications:
- that have similar awarding approaches to GCSEs, AS and A levels.
- demonstrate occupational competence/professional or Licence to Practice.
- qualifications where assessment will continue remotely or in person where this can be done in line with public health guidance but where learners can be awarded a result through the alternative arrangements if they cannot access an assessment.
The VRCF will permit alternative awarding arrangements for in scope qualifications that include delaying assessments, adapting assessments including Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs).
Within the draft VCRF Ofqual has included provisions relating to two broad categories of qualification:
Category A qualifications
Qualifications which signal occupational or professional competency, proficiency or act as a licence to practice. These qualifications will not be in scope of Teacher Assessed Grades but assessment may be adapted or, where assessment cannot take place, delayed.
Category B qualifications
Qualifications which are important for progression to further or higher study or into employment. For qualifications like ESOL Skills for Life or EDSQ, the starting point is that learners should sit assessments where safe to do so, remotely or in person, before receiving an award through the use of alternative evidence including Teacher Assessed Grades.
Ofqual will be publishing an online Qualification Explainer Tool that centres, learners, parents, tutors can use to ascertain if a qualification is in scope or not.
What should I do next?
Where possible teaching, learning and assessment should continue and centres should support their learners to engage in education.
We have already permitted a number of adaptations to assessment and delivery and published guidance on our website. However, centres may continue to offer assessments in the usual way where it is safe and feasible to do so.
We are not able at this stage to award any results based on Teacher Assessed Grades.
Where can I find more information about Gateway Qualifications’ Covid response?
We have dedicated webpages where we have published general guidance on adaptations to qualification delivery and assessment along with qualification specific guidance, e.g. ESOL Skills for Life, EDSQ. You can also view recordings of our adaptations webinars.
Please check these webpages regularly for further updates.
We will seek to maintain quality assurance processes with which you are familiar as far as is practicable and will communicate our requirements and arrangements as soon as possible. EQAs will continue to support centres.
Results and Appeals
Where qualifications at levels 2 and 3 support progression we will issue results at the same time as general qualifications provided that centres submit certificate claims by 31st July 2021.
- Level 3 results will be issued on or before 10th August, in line with AS and A levels.
- Level 2 results will be issued on or before 12th August, in line with GCSEs.
In the case of roll-on-roll-off programmes we will issue results in similar timescales as we do currently.
What we are doing now
We are in the process of categorising our qualifications.
We will provide further guidance to Centres on the awarding arrangements that will apply to our qualifications. We will also provide guidance on TAGs including the evidence requirements where assessments have not taken place.
We will also be providing further support via webinars and through our Quality Assurance team including EQAs.
Please join us at 12.30 pm on 11th March 2021 for a short, half-hour webinar that will introduce you to the VCRF and to give you an update on our progress for awarding arrangements this year.