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Successful outcomes in the face of adversity - our case studies

Successful outcomes in the face of adversity

At NCFE, our vision is that every learner will achieve their full potential this year, regardless of the challenges ahead. So, we’re delighted to share some stories of wonderful learners who have succeeded against the odds and are now flourishing in the next stage of their lives – including working frontline in our NHS.

Read our collection of short case studies to find out more about the fantastic things NCFE learners have achieved in the past year.

Covid-19 response for 2020-21

Visit our Covid-19 response hub for information on our approach for awarding for 2020-21.


NCFE’s remote invigilation supporting NHS keyworker to success

Jake Reading is a Functional Skills learner and NHS healthcare assistant and is completing his assessment through remote invigilation so he can take the next step in his journey to becoming a mental health nurse.

Jake commented: “This is my first time completing an NCFE Functional Skills qualification and being able to do the assessment remotely is great. The benefit of remote invigilation for me is the convenience of fitting in an exam around working full-time in the NHS as a keyworker, and juggling a busy home life with young children.

“My aspirations for the future are to build on my experience working in mental health, to apply for a degree course and ultimately become a mental health nurse. Gaining my NCFE Functional Skills qualification will support me on this journey and it’s great that the process has been so easy. The flexibility of remote invigilation and online learning is a fantastic opportunity for me to gain new skills and a qualification, which will enable me to progress my career.”

End-point assessment success for frontline healthcare worker

Iona Henderson, from the Emergency Assessment Unit in South Tyneside Foundation Trust, has successfully completed the Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) assessment, the first part of her end-point assessment (EPA), with EPA Plus for the Level 2 Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship standard. This is a fantastic achievement for Iona, who has been working extremely hard in the healthcare sector during the pandemic, and she was one of the first to complete the MCQ assessment through a digital proctoring process.

Digital solutions for remote assessments

EPA Plus has proactively worked with regulators to enable flexibilities and expanded their digital solutions so that all assessments can now take place remotely.

Jonathan Kosyl, Programme Leader (Apprenticeships - Health) at Sunderland College, said: “We’re really proud of Iona’s success with the first part of her EPA; she has developed well throughout her apprenticeship and she is very well thought of on her ward within the South Tyneside Foundation Trust. It’s great that Iona has still been able to progress and complete the first part of her end-point assessment using digital solutions.”

From an apprentice’s perspective

Iona commented: “The global pandemic resulted in me not being able to take my end-point assessment MCQ exam in the usual way, however it was great to be able to complete it virtually. Instead of having an exam invigilator present with me, I used the new proctoring system.

“Initially I felt a little nervous as I had never come across anything like this before, but I was given full guidance and information on how to set up the software prior to the date of my assessment. As soon as the assessment started I felt at ease and it was a nice environment in which to be doing it. I didn’t feel nervous or under pressure at all and it was good to have no possible distractions. I’m very pleased with my end result and proud of myself as I received a ‘Merit’ in the assessment.

“All of the guidance from my college and EPA Plus helped me towards the final result that I was hoping for.”

Learners at Burnley College celebrate success

Childcare and Education learners at Burnley College achieve successful outcomes despite interruptions and alterations due to Covid-19.

Overcoming challenges

At the beginning of the pandemic, Burnley College put together a comprehensive remote learning programme to support their Childcare and Education learners to achieve even without access to the classroom. Learners were actively engaged in the remote learning approach, which was a great way to prepare them for entering employment or starting university. Lecturers at Burnley College worked extremely hard to ensure the best possible outcome for all learners.

Lianne Bradford, Early Years Lecturer at Burnley College, commented: “The support from NCFE during the Covid-19 pandemic was greatly appreciated. It was imperative for us that our learners would continue to progress, develop, and achieve regardless of the situation.”

Stepping stone to achieve future goals

Caitlin, a CACHE Level 3 Childcare and Education learner at Burnley College, said: “I thought this course was an excellent way to introduce and progress my learning within the early years and a great stepping stone which I’m glad I took to achieve my future goals. I really enjoyed the mix of college and placement as I felt like it was a good balance. It helped me to learn how to work in the workplace as well as gaining practical knowledge of childcare. I now feel ready to move onto studying primary teaching in the early years at university as this course has effectively prepared me for this.”

Another learner, Jasmine, commented: “I chose to do this course because I knew I wanted to work with children in the future and it seemed like a good option as I knew I would get lots of first-hand experience in the early years. Throughout my time on the course I have grown in confidence when working not only with children but with other members of staff which will set me up well in my journey to becoming a primary school teacher.”

End-point assessment success for Wiltshire College

Carla Maguire, a Teaching Assistant apprentice at Wiltshire College, achieved end-point assessment success despite alterations to her assessment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

NCFE’s EPA Plus has proactively worked with regulators to enable flexibilities and provide alternative solutions to in-person assessments, if they can’t go ahead due to the pandemic. These flexibilities allowed EPA Plus to respond quickly to the changing situation presented by Covid-19 and meet the needs of providers, employers and apprentices.

Sharon Hanney, Assessor at Wiltshire College, commented: “We’re so pleased with the outcome of Carla’s EPA. Carla was in Gateway as we were heading for lockdown, which was a concern for all of us. She rose to the challenge and completed her portfolio within 6 weeks, of 3 months, meaning that her portfolio could be presented before the college and school closed. Carla had completed all the training tasks that I had set throughout the apprenticeship, so she had lots of evidence to draw on and was able to produce a detailed portfolio.

“We had to wait to hear how the observation element could be carried out. As soon as I heard that Carla could submit a reflective account instead, I informed her and within two weeks this was submitted. It’s great that she was able to complete her apprenticeship despite the pandemic.

Carla said: “I’m truly overjoyed that I’ve completed my end-point assessment. What a journey it has been! I’m so proud to be able to take all I’ve learned forward in my role. I’ve got a new love for learning and appreciate the feedback from EPA Plus and Wiltshire College.”

Supporting learners at Fareham College to succeed during the pandemic

Faculty Director of Health, Science and Education at Fareham College, Michelle Young, shares how they have overcome the challenges that they have faced in the past year, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michelle said: “We have found it very tricky supporting our students to gain experience in the workplace. Encounters with employers are essential to learners developing their skills, knowledge, and behaviours ready for the workforce. Thankfully, employers that we work closely with have been very supportive, and with some timetable remodelling we’ve managed to ensure most students will get this experience at some point throughout the year.”

Recognising the positives

“Although it must be said that the situation this year has had some positive aspects. For this academic year we have added online sessions to most learners’ timetables, utilising the digital skills both staff and learners gained during the pandemic. We had this in our development plans to improve digital skills across the college, but the pandemic has allowed us to accelerate this development. These digital skills will also enable learners to be employment ready as they are essential workplace skills. The learners were very pleased we continued to teach virtual online live lessons.

Michelle added: “Throughout the pandemic, NCFE has provided us with clear information about any adaptions to qualifications in a timely manner and have kept us up to date through their website and emails. NCFE adapted the way they carried out external quality assurance at the end of the last academic year to ensure we were able to claim certificates when learners had completed and they gave detailed guidance on how to carry out CAG grades.”