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Functional Skills Teacher Assessed Grade Guidance

Following the publishing of the latest version of our approach to awarding for 2020-21 document on 24 March, we can now provide you with further information on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) for Functional Skills.

6 principles of Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) for Functional Skills

The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) has published an approach to Functional Skills (legacy and reform) agreed by all awarding organisations who offer these qualifications. This confirms the principles for Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) arrangements, learner eligibility, and guidance on the evidence requirements. Please see the full guidance from FAB here.

Principles of any TAG arrangement for Functional Skills:

  1. Live testing will continue as this is the preferred method of assessment for Functional Skills. This testing could take place face-to-face or using adaptations such as being delivered remotely.
  2. Centres must investigate all live testing and adaptation options before approaching their awarding organisation with an application for a Functional Skills TAG. Centres will need to evidence how all options have been explored and exhausted for each learner.
  3. As live testing should be the primary method of awarding, and TAGs should only be requested when centres can clearly demonstrate learners are assessment ready, unable to access an assessment safely, and as a ‘last resort’, centres should not request to submit teacher assessed grades for whole cohorts.
  4. Implementation of any TAG arrangement will start once Ofqual’s regulatory framework comes into effect and will remain in place until 31 August 2021 as per VCRF requirements. Only learners that the centre expected to be entered for assessment between 1 August 2020 and 31 August 2021 and deemed to be eligible, with suitable evidence to support a pass grade against the assessment, should be put forward.
  5. Learner eligibility will be determined by criteria clearly defined by the awarding organisations, in line with policy positions from the DfE, which centres must follow.
  6. Centres must retain suitable evidence, of both a learner’s eligibility and what has been used to support any teacher assessed grade judgements, as this may be requested for review by awarding organisations.

Some key points for consideration:

  • Functional Skills will offer a TAG option, as a last resort, where a centre can demonstrate it is not possible to live test individual leaners, who are assessment ready, for safety reasons.
  • Live testing, either face to face or remotely, is the primary method of assessment for learners.
  • You will be required to submit evidence that shows how the learner has tried and failed to test through the usual means, evidence that a delay to the test is not an option and that you have the evidence to submit a TAG.
  • Submissions will be on a learner-by-learner basis.

Submission process

We have created some support guidance to help centres identify whether their learners will be eligible for a Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG), which you can access on this page. We highly recommend you read this document before proceeding.

This submission process is to approve a learner’s eligibility for a Functional Skills teacher assessed grade, but does not approve a final TAG. Once approval is given at this stage, you should then follow the documented process for submission for a final TAG.

A learner who has completed their course of study could be considered for a teacher assessed grade application provided the centre can demonstrate:

  • the learner’s end date is in the past
  • the learner would have been eligible for a TAG at the time they intended to take a live test
  • the centre has supporting evidence to demonstrate the learner was assessment ready
  • the centre can demonstrate it is not safe to invite the learner back to take a test and has explored all possible adaptations to test.

Evidence of all these points must be retained within the centre as we may need sight of this before being able to approve a TAG.

Centres must demonstrate that normal assessment arrangements are not safe and that the learner cannot:

  • access an assessment face-to-face
  • access an assessment utilising adaptations such as remote invigilation/assessment
  • delay the assessment.

A key part of the eligibility judgement must be a consideration of when each learner requires the result and, working back from the end date when the result is required, whether there is likely to be a clear opportunity for the learner to access a live test safely in any way before that date.

Centres will need to clearly justify why each learner is eligible for a TAG, providing clear evidence of the options they have explored to access live testing for each learner. Where centres can demonstrate that they have explored all possible options for each individual learner to take a live test, including all possible adaptations that have been put in place, then centres may proceed with an application to NCFE to prove eligibility to submit TAGs for each individual learner.

Requirements and evidence

  • Reason why learner cannot take a live test - Clear evidence to demonstrate efforts to live test (both face-to-face and remotely)
  • Reason why a learner needs a result now - Need for a result by a set date to support progression
  • Proof that the learner is assessment ready - Readiness for assessment between 1 August 2020 and 31 August 2021

To support centres in understanding if their learner meets the requirements for a teacher assessed grade, FAB have created a decision flow chart detailing each decision that needs to be made for an individual learner. This flow chart can be accessed here.

Should you have learners who meet the above requirements then you will now need to supply the information to us following the below steps:

  1. Download the template spreadsheet here
  2. Complete all boxes on the template with the relevant information
  3. Return spreadsheet to [email protected]

We will review your submission and will advise by email if your learner/s meet the requirement for a teacher assessed grade and if you can proceed with a submission through our TAG Portal. We will respond within 5 working days to each application. If we have any queries about your submission then we will be in touch with your designated contact in due course, this may delay the final response timeline. Please note you should not proceed with any Functional Skills teacher assessed grade submission until you have final approval from NCFE.

Once approval is given at this stage, you should then follow the documented process for submission for a final TAG.

Submission deadline

The 18 June deadline for TAG submissions does not apply to Functional Skills due to the roll-on / roll-off nature of the qualification. However, please remember to complete the eligibility process per individual learner to ensure all other options have been explored before you look to submit a TAG. 

Helping you get your application right first time – 3 top tips

We thought we’d share some common reasons as to why Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) applications are currently being rejected so that you can avoid these common errors:


  1. Your learner’s individual circumstances will not be the same, so try to avoid a blanket approach when completing the submission.
  2. Ensure you provide as much information as you can when completing your submission in terms of why a learner is unable to sit all forms of live assessment, including face-to-face, online and remote invigilation – ‘Covid-19’ is not a robust enough rationale and you must show you have explored and exhausted all available assessment options.
  3. Remember, it is your centre’s responsibility to provide a safe area that meets the PHE guidelines. If your usual testing centre is not suitable, tell us what other Covid-safe venues you have considered and why these alternative venues were not suitable.