If you work for an awarding body, school or college, have your say!

Ofqual is jointly consulting with the Department for Education (DfE) on long-term resilience arrangements. This builds on the arrangements put in place for the 2023 exam series (which were consulted separately on).

These resilience arrangements are to ensure that, in the unlikely event that exams and assessments cannot go ahead as planned in any future year (e.g. because of a global pandemic), reliable and sufficient alternative evidence of student performance is available to enable the award of Teacher Assessment Grades (TAGs).

The consultation document is split into two parts:

  • Part 1 is a joint consultation by the DfE and Ofqual seeking views on the proposal to put in place arrangements to facilitate the gathering of evidence of student performance by centres to enable grades to be awarded in the event that exams cannot go ahead.
  • In part 2, Ofqual is seeking views on the specific Qualification Level Conditions needed to implement the proposals described in part 1.

For “general qualifications” (i.e. GCSEs, AS and A levels, Project Qualifications and the Advanced Extension Award (AEA) in Maths), DfE and Ofqual propose to provide guidance for schools, colleges and other exam centres about the collection and retention of evidence of student performance. The proposed guidance can be found in Annex A of the consultation document.

It is more of a mixed picture when it comes to the proposals concerning resilience arrangements for Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs). The consultation highlights three types of VTQs:

  1. Modular VTQs with high proportion of internal assessment – DfE and Ofqual consider that the most appropriate way to award these qualifications if exams did not go ahead would be through the use of alternative evidence, such as TAGs.
  2. VTQs which assess occupational or professional competence, proficiency, or act as a licence to practise – DfE and Ofqual do not consider it would be safe to award these qualifications using alternative evidence. They would instead expect exams and other assessments to continue where possible or with appropriate adaptations.
  3. VTQs which are assessed in a similar way to GCSEs and A levels (i.e. largely through end of year exams and some coursework) – resilience arrangements might be necessary and what is appropriate will depend on the nature of the particular qualification.

It is proposed that a new Condition (of the General Conditions of Recognition) will be introduced requiring all awarding organisations to consider whether it is necessary to have resilience arrangements in place for their particular qualifications, and, where necessary, for those awarding organisations to issue guidance to schools, colleges and centres on collecting evidence of student performance.

Awarding organisations, schools, colleges and other exam centres are asked to give their views on the proposals, including on the following areas:

  • Whether the proposed guidance is helpful, proportionate and to what extent it minimises any additional burden on students and teacher workload.
  • Whether the resilience arrangements for 2023 increased the burden on schools, colleges and staff over and above business as usual, and whether the proposed resilience arrangements for 2024 and beyond will increase the burden.
  • Whether the resilience arrangements for 2023 had an overall positive, neutral or negative impact on students and what impact the proposed resilience arrangements for 2024 and beyond will have.
  • Any particular impacts the proposed arrangements would have on particular groups of students because of their protected characteristics.
  • Any additional burdens and costs on awarding organisations associated with the implementation and delivery of the proposed arrangements.
  • Sharing any examples of best practice for evidence retention which reduce financial and administrative costs.

The consultation closes on 2 August 2023 – you can provide your views here.

At Bates Wells, we have a dedicated education group and a sector specialism in regulated qualifications. We regularly support awarding organisations and end-point assessors on all aspects of their business. We can assist from establishment and recognition, day-to-day operations through to helping avoid and resolve disputes and regulatory intervention. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.