V Certs | FAQs | NCFE

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V Certs FAQs

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What is a V Cert?

'V Cert' is our brand name for our technical award qualifications for schools. We have developed these qualifications in line with the technical guidance provided by the Department for Education (DfE) and have been approved to count on KS4 Performance Tables.

Each V Cert technical award is equivalent to one GCSE, and contains both internally and externally assessed elements.

V Certs are recognised by DfE as Technical Awards.

Which vocational qualifications can my school deliver?

Schools can deliver any existing age-appropriate qualification; see Section 96 for further information. However, if you are looking for qualifications that are included in the Key Stage 4 performance tables then you will need to choose a qualification from the list published by the DfE.

Our V Cert technical awards are on the DfE list and each is equivalent to 1 GCSE.

What happens if my external assessment is affected by bad weather ie I have to close my centre due to adverse weather conditions?

You should follow the External Assessment Contingency Planning document. If you have any issues, please contact our Assessment Delivery team on [email protected].

What happens if I haven’t received my assessment papers before the scheduled marking window?

All papers are available via the Portal three working days before the date of the assessment so you can also go on and download/ print these if required. Instructions can be found in Instructions – Digital Materials for External Assessment.

Tell me about Performance Points

The list of all qualifications that attract performance points can be found on the DfE website. These are updated every year.

All Level 1/2 V Cert Technical Awards are graded from Level 1 Pass through to Level 2 Distinction*, and are equivalent to GCSE grades 1 to 8.5. See grading table below.

A graph showing the new V Cert grading structure

What are the discount codes for the V Certs?

Qualifications are assigned a discount code by the Department for Education (DfE) to show where one qualification discounts the other because the content of each qualification is deemed too similar.

If a pupil completes 2 qualifications that have the same discount code, although the pupil still gains both qualifications, only 1 of those qualifications will count towards the Key Stage 4 Performance Tables. For example, if a pupil completes both GCSE Physical Education and the V Cert in Sports Studies, only one of these qualifications will count in the Performance Tables.

These are updated by the DfE every year. See the DfE website for further information.

In relation to the early entry policy, which V Cert qualification will count towards the Key Stage 4 Performance Tables?

Qualifications taken from Year 7 onwards can count in the Key Stage Performance Tables once the pupil reaches the end of Key Stage 4.

However, the early entry policy comes into effect from Year 9.

This means if a pupil completes a Level 1 qualification in Year 7 or 8 and completes the Level 2 qualification in Year 9 or 10, then the best result from either the Level 1 or Level 2 qualification will count in the Performance Tables.

However, if the pupil completes both the Level 1 and Level 2 qualification in Year 9 or later, then it is the first entry that will be reported in the Performance Tables.

What if my pupils are studying a V Cert at a local college, who gets the points?

The performance points are assigned to the school where the pupil is enrolled.

What are the occupational competence requirements to deliver V Certs?

Each qualification specification provides guidance on the experience and qualifications needed to deliver and assess the qualification but it isn’t intended to be exhaustive or definitive. Examples of relevant qualifications and occupational backgrounds are given as benchmarks.

Other equivalent qualifications or backgrounds may also qualify prospective staff for delivery or assessment roles. Centres must provide sufficient numbers of suitably experienced Assessors and Internal Quality Assurers to ensure that qualifications are delivered effectively. Staff recruitment should be made at the discretion of centres, and centres should be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure that all staff involved in the delivery and assessment of our qualifications are suitably qualified.

Each subject specific qualification specification can be found on the qualification pages.

What does 'Operational End Date' mean?

The Operational End Date is the last date that we can accept registrations for a qualification. The qualifications will be reviewed before this date with the intention of extending the accreditation period, pending further review of the qualifications by the Department for Education (DfE).

You’ll still have 2 years from the operational end date to claim your certificates.

How will the new qualifications differ from the current model?

You can read some of the key changes between our new V Certs and the legacy V Certs in our What’s Changing? Guide.

How long are the new V Certs approved for performance points for?

They are approved for 2024 and 2025 performance tables. Then they'll most likely do a yearly review of the qualifications and the next opportunity to add any new ones would be for 2026 tables, but we are still waiting for the technical guidance and dates from DfE. Check out the Performance Tables Guide for further information.

Will centres receive support visits?

Support visits will not be available for centres as its moderation and moderators won’t be allocated until final marks are in the Portal, they'll be more like examiners.

Administration and standardisation training will be provided to support centres as well as support from the provider development team.

If a learner fails the examination, will there be a resit opportunity?


Will there be an earlier examination opportunity than in May/June each year?

No. There is only one examination each session.

Does the learner have a choice between the NEA and EA?

No. Each V Cert comprises a compulsory NEA and EA. The percentage weighting will vary for each qualification so please refer to the qualification specification for confirmation.

Can the NEA and EA be completed in different academic sessions?

No. Both the NEA and EA must be completed within the same academic session.

Can a centre claim partial certification for a learner who has not completed the qualification in full?

No. The qualification comprises a single unit in a linear model so partial completion and certification cannot be claimed.

Does the learner have to answer all questions in the EA to pass the examination?

No. The examination grading model is compensatory so a learner may still pass the qualification even if they do not correctly answer all the examination questions. Providing the learner's combined marks for the EA and NEA meet the minimum amount required for a Level 1 Pass, they will still achieve.

Will sample assessment materials be made available?

Yes. Sample assessment materials are available for each subject to download from our qualification pages, and include:

  • Sample examined assessment paper (EA)
  • Sample mark scheme for the EA
  • Sample non-exam assessment (NEA)
  • Sample mark scheme for the NEA.
Will learners have access to class notebooks and other resources while completing the NEA?

Subject Specific Tutor Guidance will be available to centres soon to offer more detail and guidance on the controls for the NEAs.

What is the moderation process for the NEA?

Centres will be submitting marks rather than grades. Centres will submit marks that go forward for moderation. Once the portal closes the centre will not be able to amend any marks. These marks are then taken forward with the moderators marks, from the sample, to determine final marks for the learners. Depending on tolerance and consistency checks the final mark could be the centres mark, moderators mark or a regressed mark. A sample will be requested. Initial samples are based on JCQ sampling guidance for moderation. The sample maybe widened depending on whether marks are within tolerance or not. The centre will be advised if further samples are required. Centres will not be asked to submit all evidence unless the moderator deems in necessary to request more samples through the moderation process. In some cases though this might include all learners and all learners might be requested if they have a small cohort. Administration training and standardisation training will be provided to centres.

Why has the Level 1 Distinction* been removed?

This grade was removed to help decompress the L1 grade boundaries.

Is the overall grade compensatory?

The assessments are completely compensatory, so (in theory) learners aren’t restricted in what their overall grade will be by what they achieve in each assessment. Their overall grade will be determined by comparing their combined (and scaled) marks in each assessment against the combined (and scaled) grade boundaries. In reality, they’re unlikely to get a high overall grade if they do very badly in one of the assessments, and inevitably their overall grade will be somewhere between the notional grades they achieve in the 2 assessments. On that basis, for example if a learner got a Level 2 distinction in the NEA and only a Level 1 merit in the EA, they could come out with a Level 2 pass. However, given that grade boundaries are yet to be set, and will change from series to series, it’s impossible to give any more reassurance than that.

Which of the content will be tested in the examination and which in the internal assessment?

The new structure is in a single linear model and is not divided into 2 units like the previous V Cert model. This means that all content areas for each qualification must be taught in advance of the assessment and all of the mandatory content will be subject to assessment in both the EA and NEA.

Do level 1 and level 2 learners complete the same NEA and EA?


Are there any sample portfolios available?

Not currently, however we are working on creating Student Exemplary Materials to support with standardisation training and marking of the Non-Exam Assessments.

For the internal quality assurance of the NEA will the sample size recommendations be like the model 4 where we suggest 50% sample size in first year of delivery and then between 20%-40% thereafter?

As V Cert synoptic assessments will be moderated externally, we will not be checking evidence of IQA decisions. Centres, however, do need to ensure that internal quality assurance processes are in place with standardisation sessions being an integral part of this. Centres should then follow this with the sampling of assessment decisions, to ensure all assessors are marking consistently. As a guide we suggest all assessors are sampled for an agreed percentage of assessments marked, this should be higher in the first year of delivery.

Can I give feedback to my learners during the NEA?

Learners can rework their evidence at any point during the supervised sessions. Supervisors or assessors are able to identify areas which do not meet the required standard or criteria however, you cannot give the detail of what is missing or needs improving to learners. Learners should use this feedback and decide themselves how to improve it.

Can we teach/prepare/recap them for say x2 lessons a week and then undertake actual NEA in controlled session in the 3rd lesson a week?

The learner should not undertake the non-exam assessment until all content areas have been delivered. This is to ensure learners are in a position to complete the non-exam assessment successfully. The learner, therefore, should not be entered for the internal synoptic project until they have been taught the full course of study, to ensure that they are in the best position to complete the internal synoptic project successfully.’

Therefore, this is not permitted as all content needs to have been delivered prior to the completion of the NEA and it could be seen as ‘teaching to the test’.

When is the final external assessment opportunity for the legacy V Certs before they are withdrawn?

Learners are allowed a 2-year cycle to certificate after registering on a qualification. This means that certification must be completed by December 2024 so depending on the qualification pattern of assessment, this would be Spring 2024 for Model 4 level 1/2 technical awards and Summer 2024 for the Model 3 qualifications.

Will the papers/mark schemes be hidden so that students cannot access these if using for mocks?

We have published the sample papers and mark schemes on QualHub as we know how important it is for teachers to be able to review these when making decisions about which qualifications to offer.

We understand there are risks associated with having the sample assessments freely available online and will monitor this closely.

When can we make bookings for the first assessment series?

Registration for these qualifications opens on 1 September 2022 in the NCFE Portal.

How do we make bookings?

Assessment series bookings are made at the point of registration in the NCFE Portal, therefore no additional action is required other than selecting the required series at the point of registration.

Why is there not an assessment opportunity in 2022-23?

These qualifications are designed for 2-year delivery, therefore the first cohort registered in Sept 2022 will be entered onto the 23-24 assessment series.

Do I need to make separate bookings for the NEA and the EA?

No, they will be booked together when you select the preferred assessment series, as both must be sat in the same series.

What are the mode options for the EA?

The EA can be completed either online (in Surpass) or paper-based.

How do I make a booking for an online EA?

In same way in Portal, select online.

Can I book onto the Summer 2025 series?

This option will be available for booking from September 2023.

What are the dates of the Summer 2024 EA?

These will be confirmed in Summer 2023. We will be publishing the dates 1 year in advance (as opposed to the usual 2 years), so that we can plan around the assessment dates of other qualifications such as GCSEs. This will allow us to, where possible, avoid clashes and mitigate risks. However, the dates will be in the Summer 2024 period, meaning May and June 2024.

Can I change from online to paper based after booking (and vice versa)?


Can I book the NEA and EA for different years?

No – both the NEA and EA must be completed in the final year of delivery (2023/2024 for the first wave of students on these qualifications)

When will the booking cut off for the booking be?

This is still to be confirmed, however there will be no booking cut off in the 22/23 session as there are no assessments taking place until Summer 2024.

What will the late fees be if past the cut off?

Late fees will be charged, currently in line with the most recent fees document.

Will there be grade boundaries published for the NEA/EA?

The NEA assessment will be numerically marked by centres, rather than graded. Centres will have access to administration and standardisation training to support the application of the mark scheme. Setting the grade boundaries and awarding learner grades is completed by NCFE as part of our awarding processes. As the grade boundaries are set by NCFE as part of the awarding process, we won't know the boundaries in-year so will not be able to provide indicative grade boundaries ahead of time.

Will I still have an External Quality Assurer (EQA)?

If the qualification has a moderated component, you won’t be allocated an EQA. However, you will be allocated a Quality Reviewer who will conduct your annual monitoring review (AMR).

When will teaching and learning resources be available for the new V Certs?

We are developing a suite of teaching and learning resources for each V Cert, which will include detailed schemes of learning/work, PowerPoint presentations, and workbooks. Please refer to our Teaching and Learning Resources FAQs Document for the full release schedule.

How do I access teaching and learning materials?

The resources are available to download for free via the qualification pages. 

Will there be any textbooks available for the new V Certs?

Hodder textbooks will be available for Child Development and Care in the Early Years, Health and Fitness, Business and Enterprise and Food and Cookery. A Hodder revision guide will also be available for these subjects by Spring 2023 including Engineering.

Will iAchieve be providing teaching resources?

Yes. Online resources will be available for Health and Fitness, Food and Cookery, Business and Enterprise and Child Development in Care and Early Years. 

iAchieve are also interested in adding Health and Social Care, Sports Studies, Engineering and Digital technology to their suite. Contact [email protected] for more information.