Our Assessment Innovation Fund pilot with Calderdale College | NCFE

What can we help you find?

Our Assessment Innovation Fund pilots: Calderdale College

Shaping the future of learning and assessment

We’re on a mission to break boundaries in assessment with an investment fund to support and pilot new ideas on the future of assessment.

Calderdale College

Calderdale College is the largest provider of further education (post-16) courses and work-based learning (Apprenticeships) and the sole provider of higher education courses in Calderdale.

About the pilot 

The purpose of the pilot with Calderdale College is to evaluate the use of Simulation Centres and Virtual Reality (VR) in the delivery and assessment of core curriculum to replicate industry standards in the Health Social Care (HSC) Sectors. They hope to show that the use of simulation and VR in assessment can assist learners in gaining valuable, real-life scenario practice without fear of consequence. 

The pilot will bring together 68 learners from both digital qualifications and Health and Social Care qualifications to collaborate in the development and delivery of their own learning. Digital T-Level learners will establish the development team that build and deliver the VR scenarios which will assess learners in segments of the T-Level in Supporting Healthcare. 

By piloting the use of technology in assessment, Calderdale College hope to increase the opportunities for learners to thrive and achieve their aspirational target grades. They also see this pilot as a way of providing safe learning environments where learners can progress via both failure and success and where they can try new skills, build behaviours, and demonstrate industry values.

Part of the pilot will involve collaborating with employers to write scenario stories that replicate a real working environment for learners via simulation.

What were the key findings of the pilot?

The pilot study on the use of virtual reality (VR) in assessments has shown promising results where the key aims of the project were:

  • to test the use of two immersive technologies (Virtual Reality (VR) and a Simulation Centre with manikins) in T Level Health assessment (NCFE, 2023) and L2 Transition Group (NCFE, 2023)
  • to incorporate Care Certificate standards (Skills for Care, 2022) into the simulated scenarios, enabling Further Education (FE) to assess as well as employers
  • to test the theory that FE has a place in delivering the Care Certificate standards for employers
  • for digital technology students to jointly work with industry in developing the VR scenarios
  • to gain feedback from students, employers and key stakeholders with regards to the use of immersive technology in assessment.

The data collected and analysed from the project found that learners found both technologies (simulation centre and VR) engaging, but their responses differed subtly. The Simulation Centre, with its professional setting and realistic manikins, received significant positive praise with its immersive feel. Learners felt like they were already stepping into their future careers, and their focus was on absorbing knowledge and honing skills, not the assessment itself.

VR, while generally well-received, faced some scepticism. Some students found the initial experience disorienting, and the lack of human interaction in the scenarios raised questions about its relevance to people-based care. However, those with prior gaming experience or a natural ease with technology were more enthusiastic, highlighting the potential for personalisation and future development.

The project also shed light on areas for future improvement. Faculty development in simulation-based education is crucial for smooth implementation as well as engaging stakeholders and employers early on will be essential for system-wide change in assessment procedures.

Technical expertise and thorough training for both staff and students are also vital. Not everyone embraces technology with equal ease, and providing sufficient orientation time for those unfamiliar with gaming-like experiences is crucial.

Finally, scaling the project to other curriculum areas will not only expand its reach but also offer valuable insights into the versatility of immersive technologies in education.

Next steps for the project

It is clear from this project that immersive technologies have the potential to be used effectively with FE students, although a number of challenges need to be addressed for it to be implemented effectively.

Phase two of the project will focus on:

  • the feasibility of embedding immersive technologies into curriculum content, delivery and assessment via widening stakeholder/partner involvement to curriculum owners, awarding bodies and the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFAIT)
  • scoping a set of standards that relate to the use of immersive technologies in FE teaching and assessment and how they are implemented within College processes and systems
  • evaluating the development of an individualised formative progressive assessment approach, to move away from the current single, high stakes assessment approach
  • developing a dynamic VR scenario assessment and back-end reporting mechanism.

Find out more about upcoming application phases and how to apply

Interested in applying?

Complete our contact form to subscribe to email updates about upcoming funding windows, download the application guide, scoring criteria and much more.

Find out more

Final report

Key findings and recommendations

Download now