Our plan of action for 2020

By: Esme Winch

Managing Director

Thursday 16 November 2017

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As you’ll be aware, we’ve been waiting for further information from the Department for Education (DfE) regarding technical guidance and the submission windows for qualifications in the 2020 performance tables. We’re committed to transparency and honesty and, in light of new information, we’d like to share with you our plans to get ready for 2020.

What the DfE have said

Technical guidance

We now know that the technical guidance has remained the same as last year. This is positive news as NCFE was successful with 19 qualifications gaining approval based largely on our previous qualification models, alongside some of our new Technical Awards.

Submission windows

Unlike previous years, the DfE have announced that this year there will be 2 submission windows, rather than the previous four. The first submission window will close on 1 December and the second will close on 16 February.


The DfE announced that feedback is to be expected at the end of January for the December submissions window and February feedback expected at the end of April. We know from previous years that these deadlines are fairly fluid and it’s not uncommon for feedback to not be received before the next window opens. The DfE themselves have said these dates are “anticipated” therefore we aren’t using them as benchmarks for our own development.

Our plan

Based on the information released, we’ve looked at our own timeline and the pitfalls and eventualities that could transpire from this new way of working with only two submission windows.

We’ve previously shared our plan for 2020 and discussed our new combined level 1 and 2 model for qualifications. Our team of qualification developers has worked extremely hard on this model and it has been subject to rigorous testing by our customers and discussed at length with the DfE. The feeling is very positive and I’m happy to describe more of the benefits that make us so confident in the new model for V Certs.

Benefits of the new V Cert model

Confident co-teaching – we believe strongly that teaching classes of mixed ability is not only resourcefully economic, but of benefit to the pupils in the classes where they can share knowledge, peer to peer.

Supports success, retention and achievement – Starting over again can be disheartening, as can feeling like you could achieve at a higher level but don’t have the option. The model allows for pupils to move both up and down a level as they progress through the qualification, increasing the opportunity for success.

Compensatory marking model - We’ve listened to feedback and incorporated a compensatory marking model into our new V Cert model. This means that pupils will be awarded on knowledge recognised throughout the qualifications and not have a high-stakes exam that they must pass in order to achieve. We believe that this will lead to increased success.

Redeveloped specifications - based on feedback from customers and the DfE, we’ve developed our specifications to make them more supportive around the teaching and delivery of the qualification.

Flexible external assessment – we’ve provided the option for the external assessment to be sat in year 10, which may alleviate the pressure whilst taking GCSE or other exams in year 11.

More resources – The new model V Certs will come with a range of new resources to support their delivery.

Available in February: new draft specifications, purpose statements, sample external assessment papers, sample external assessments, mark schemes and sample synoptic project briefs.

Available in May: sample synoptic project portfolios,

Available before 1 September: classroom support packs which include Powerpoints, Schemes of Work, lesson plans, worksheets and revision workbooks for unit 1.

We’re also working with endorsed suppliers, Hodder, to create the first text books for Food and Cookery and Health and Fitness. We’re also working with iAchieve who will be updating their platforms for the new model Food and Cookery, Health and Fitness, Engineering, Business and Enterprise and the NCFE CACHE Level 2 Award in Child Development and Care qualification.

Timeline of activity

1 December window

We’re resubmitting 16 Key Stage 4 qualifications approved in the 2019 performance tables for extension, in addition to a number of Key Stage 5 qualfications. As the technical guidance remains the same, we are very confident in the approval for the qualifications, however, we must be mindful that all qualifications are subject to a degree of scrutiny to ensure that they are current and valid.

We’ve decided not to submit our new model in this window, instead we’re continuing to work on and fine tune the model ready for a submission in the February Window

16 February window

We are planning to submit our new qualifications during this window (and any resubmissions if feedback is received in time for extensions).

However, it is important to note that; based on the new advice from the DfE that they are streamlining the offer for technical education in schools, we will only able to have one qualification of any kind on the tables at any one time.

In the eventuality that both submissions are approved, we’d make a decision on which model to proceed with. It would be our choice to proceed with our new model for V Certs.  

We’ve had great success with our previous models and familiarity of qualifications is a huge positive for teachers and school. However, to improve our offer we must move forward and we strongly believe that this would be our best portfolio of qualifications for 14-16 year olds to date.

We’ll keep you up to date on these submissions and we’ll be our summary documents to reflect which qualifications will be affected. To find out more, you can look at each subject area on our website.

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