Published on 20 December 2023
This guidance focuses on how to gather and retain evidence on learner performance, which can be used to form grading decisions should there be any event with such severe consequences that it would necessitate a government decision to cancel exams or other formal assessment.
Whilst the guidance is primarily aimed at GCSE and A level qualifications, this also includes T Levels, and other NCFE qualifications are also in scope, with details outlined below.
Context and aims
After disruption in 2020 and 2021, exams and other formal assessments took place as planned in 2022 and 2023. Currently, any future cancellation of exams by government and the potential need for alternative assessment arrangements remains very unlikely. However, through the publication of this guidance, we hope that taking reasonable steps now will provide resilience in the qualification system for learners. It's also expected that action taken now will reduce the burden on centres should this be required at a future date.
These arrangements are to support in the unlikely event that government determines that exams are not able to go ahead, they are not designed to be used to award grades due to localised disruptions.
For qualifications and external assessments in scope, centres should plan assessment opportunities to gather evidence of learner performance in line with their usual assessment approaches (unless they conclude that there is any reason to vary them to ensure they have collected appropriate evidence).
Evidence gathered should be sufficient that centres feel confident that, taken together, the evidence is an appropriate assessment of the knowledge, understanding and skills of the learner.
This may be necessary where:
- other suitable evidence on which to base a grade is unlikely to be available because of the approach taken to assessment
- a learner needs to rely on the qualification for immediate progression
- the qualification does not attest to the achievement of occupational or professional competence, provide a licence to practise, or similar.
Where completing assessment, centres should:
- plan assessment opportunities in line with their usual assessment approaches, unless there is reason to vary to ensure sufficient evidence can be collected
- complete assessments in as close to exam conditions as possible:
- using assessments not seen previously
- completed independently without access to books or notes
- supervised and under timed conditions similar to those of the live assessment
- covering a wide range of content, similar to a live assessment, and similar to full, or parts, of a live assessment
- ensure that learners are aware that whilst exams are expected to go ahead as normal, their performance in assessment may be used to determine a grade if exams cannot go ahead as planned
- ensure approved reasonable adjustments and access arrangements are applied, as they would in a live assessment
- ensure special considerations are considered if a learner is affected by an event outside of their control during, or immediately before, the assessment - this must be recorded and considered should a grade need to be determined using that evidence
- mark evidence using published NCFE mark schemes
- retain evidence, either original or copy.
Impact on NCFE qualifications
Performance table qualifications
Those qualifications most similar to GCSEs and A Levels within the NCFE portfolio should follow the Ofqual guidance. This includes T Levels, V Certs, and CACHE qualifications with an external assessment which carry UCAS or performance points.
Functional Skills (including Digital Functional Skills, and Essential Digital Skills)
These qualifications are on-demand, with more frequent external examination and assessment opportunities throughout the year. In addition, they have on-screen assessments and/or remote invigilation solutions to provide greater resilience.
As such, they are not expected to be included in these resilience arrangements.
All other NCFE qualifications
Where the qualification does not have exams, centres should still aim to complete assessments wherever possible. Please note though that no additional assessment or evidence is required beyond that which is already being completed.
Qualifications which assess occupational competence, or act as a license to practice
These qualifications, including end-point assessments for apprentices, would not be awarded on the basis of a TAG or other alternative evidence. Therefore, they are not in scope for these resilience arrangements.
How to contact us
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