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Our approach to awarding for 2021-22

Joint Ofqual and DfE consultation now live

As we work together towards learner success this summer, we’re also looking ahead to 2021-22 and want to ensure we keep you up to date with our plans, every step of the way. Ofqual and the DfE has now published the consultation on ​‘Arrangements for the assessment and awarding of vocational, technical and other general qualifications: 2021 to 2022’​ and we’d like to provide you with the key information from the consultation as well as NCFE’s response.

Since the spring of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused substantial disruption to teaching, learning and assessment activity in all parts of the education sector. Four principles have driven our response to the pandemic, throughout:

  • supporting learning progress
  • maintaining rigour and robustness
  • streamlining and supporting centres
  • working in partnership for the benefit of learners.

These principles have shaped the changes we have made to our qualifications, assessments and operational processes this year and will inform what adaptations we continue into the 2021-22 academic session.

Joint Ofqual and DfE consultation launched (12 July) and what this means

 On 12 July, Ofqual and the DfE launched the consultation on the following emerging policy steer for arrangements for 2021-22: 

  • Exams and assessments will go ahead in 2021-22, therefore moving away from results being based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs).
  • Some adaptations may be necessary to take account of remaining public health restrictions.
  • Recognition that there has been disruption to teaching and learning and that there is a need to free up teaching time, and address learning loss.
  • For qualifications in Category B1, the starting point will be that all content should be taught but some streamlining of assessments may be necessary to free up teaching and learning to address learning loss from last year.
  • For qualifications in Category B2 and A, the starting point will be that all content should be taught as it is necessary for the valid award of the qualifications but there may be some adaptations to assessments to address public health restrictions.

With this in mind, the consultation seeks to propose the following minor changes to the VCRF for 2021-22 arrangements:

  • Proposal to move category B qualifications into category A, to enable adaptations to apply to all qualifications, moving away from results being based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). However, category B provisions will be retained for:
    • the progress of appeals where results are based on TAGs
    • the determination of results for any learners eligible for a TAG who did not receive one in the summer.
  • Results for 2021-22 mid-flight learners based on TAGs will carry forward into 2021-22 or later for longer study programmes.
  • The requirements and guidance on adaptation will be updated to reflect the 2021-22 context, in line with policy steer from the Department for Education.
  • The consideration of updating the guidance on Remote Invigilation (RI) to include Remote Assessment and to define these terms.

As part of the consultation, Ofqual and the DfE will consult awarding organisations on the technical, regulatory changes required to support their approach for adaptations for 2021-22.

This means we will not be able to finalise certain aspects of our approach to awarding until the technical consultation outcomes have been published – likely to be by the end of August 2021. During this period, we will continue to work closely with Ofqual, DfE and other sector bodies and awarding organisations. We will provide centres with further advice, guidance and final confirmation of all aspects of our approach as soon thereafter as we are able. We appreciate that timely advice is vital for centres.

Further support

We stand ready to support you and your staff, and our Customer Support team is available to answer any questions you may have about this year’s arrangements and next year’s plans – call us on 0191 239 8000, email us at [email protected], or speak to us on webchat.

Good practice guide

Designing and creating centre-based assessments guidance for 2021-22

View the guide