Regulatory arrangements for the awarding of vocational and technical and other general qualifications in 2020-2021

Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQ) Contingency Regulatory Framework

In March 2021, Ofqual published the outcome of their consultation regarding assessments arrangements: ‘Regulatory arrangements for the awarding of vocational and technical and other general qualifications in 2020-2021’.

In May 2020, Ofqual introduced the Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF) as an emergency measure to permit awarding organisations to take approaches to issuing results during the summer that are not normally allowed by the General Conditions of Recognition (GCR). This was because assessments either could not take place, or could only take place in an adapted form, due to the national lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In October 2020, Ofqual issued a second version, the Extended ERF, to address the different circumstances of 2020/21, when exams and assessments were expected to take place but in the context of ongoing disruption arising from the pandemic.

The ERF and Extended ERF have now closed (in all but some limited circumstances) and Ofqual have now introduced a new framework, called the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF).

The VCRF will allow our centres to flexibly deliver assessments as normal and use agreed adaptations as necessary, based on the design and delivery of the qualifications.

We will ensure the following principles are adhered to:

  • Adaptations will not have an adverse impact on delivery, learning or assessments for learners taking our qualifications.
  • Adaptations will not provide an advantage or disadvantage to learners taking our qualifications.
  • Validity and reliability of all our qualifications will be maintained when adaptations are used.
  • Quality and assessment standards will be maintained and continue to be comparable when adaptations are necessary.

Under the VCRF, our qualifications have been defined as Category A.

For qualifications in Category A, awarding organisations are permitted to award certificates on the basis of assessment evidence from exams and/or internal assessments; therefore, what are known as Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) are not permitted. This involves qualifications that assess occupational or professional competency, proficiency, or act as a license to practice where it would not be safe to award these qualifications using alternative approaches to awarding.

For Category A qualifications, SFJ Awards will carry forward the adaptations already made under the Extended ERF or make further adaptations to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and/or to comply with public health guidance, where this could be done without undermining the validity and reliability of the Regulatory arrangements. Where this was not possible, we may have to delay assessments.

Recently updated to include guidance for SIA Security licence-linked and First Aid* qualifications, our own Adaptation Arrangements for Assessment and Awarding in 2020 to 2021 has been developed in collaboration with our stakeholders including sector bodies, centres, our EQAs, and associate subject matter experts, made to remain compliant with the VCRF.

Our Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager, Paul Kelly, the Quality Assurance Team, and your EQA are here to continue the conversation around assessment adaptations, and we are always ready to support centres with any advice on maintaining high internal quality assurance standards, so please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

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