Vocational Qualifications

Check here for the latest information on how the range of vocational qualifications will be assessed this year.

Most vocational qualifications taken by learners in Wales are also available in other UK nations and as a result we have been working very closely with our fellow regulators as these decisions are being made. 

To ensure consistency for learners taking these qualifications, the same approach will be taken for learners in Wales as that set out by Ofqual. 

We are applying the same principles in deciding the right approach for qualifications designed specifically to meet the needs of learners in Wales.  

Our Chief Executive has written a blog on vocational qualifications which you can find here. 

Why is the Awarding for Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs) different this summer?

The landscape of vocational and technical education is complex. Unlike GCSEs and A Levels, there is no single approach to awarding that would work for all the different types of VTQ’s because of the very different qualification structures and assessment methods. 

Each awarding body will need to make judgements about what evidence they need to award results that are fair and reliable. 

Will all learners studying a VTQ receive a result this summer?

Our expectation is that the majority of learners who planned to take exams and assessments this summer, for progression to either further or higher education or to employment, will receive a result or be able to take an adapted assessment. However, it will not be possible for all learners to take an appropriate assessment this summer and they might have to wait for the next available assessment opportunity. 

Calculated results are the starting point for qualification that are used for progression to further or higher education. The approach is similar to GCSEs, AS and A Levels.  For some qualifications, calculated results are not appropriate. In general, assessments will be required for qualifications that are used for occupational competence, are about having the skills required for a job, or that could have professional or health and safety implications. Awarding bodies will advise if assessments can be adapted, within the current public health restrictions. Despite this a delay to the assessment of some qualifications is unfortunately inevitable. 

How can I find out how the results of my qualification will be arrived at?

You can find out whether your qualification has been designated as a “calculated, adopt or delay” qualification by using an interactive tool available on the Ofqual website. This link allows you to easily search for qualifications and find relevant information.

Which learners do these arrangements apply to?

These arrangements apply to all learners who are due to take assessments towards unit or qualification results between 20 March and 31 July 2020. This includes those learners who may be only part way through their programme of study and will continue with learning towards this qualification after these dates, for example, if they had planned to take an assessment on one or more units of a modular course half-way through a 2 year programme of study. 

How will results be calculated?

Qualifications with calculated results vary widely in their size, assessment structures, grading and delivery modules.  Leaners taking these qualifications may have completed different amounts of formal assessments before 20th March. This means the awarding bodies are having to implement different approaches to calculating results that are appropriate within different contexts, but with as much consistency as possible. In most cases similar qualifications should have similar ways of calculating results but awarding bodies may need to introduce some variations to secure necessary evidence of learner ability. 

Will there be a consistent approach to generating calculated grades?

Qualifications Wales and Ofqual are supporting Awarding Bodies to take a consistent approach to generating calculated results, is by using three essential elements: 

  1. A centre assessment grade (generated by the centre) and or a calculated grade determined by the Awarding Body based on the results they hold for the learner. 
  2. Quality assurance of the overall calculated result. 
  3. A check of overall qualification level outcomes and results profile, to confirm it is in line with expectations. 

To generate calculated results, awarding bodies may also draw on evidence they already hold, including: - 

  • Banked modules or grades for completed unit assessments 
  • Data and information about each Centre, for example, their historical performance for qualification outcomes, risk profiles, centre visit information and records of any investigations 
  • Prior attainment data, if appropriate. 

What if it is not possible to generate a calculated grade?

If there is little or no banked unit data or where centre assessment grades are not possible and/or there is little opportunity or evidence available to support the quality assurance process, an awarding body may determine that this is below the minimum evidence threshold. In these cases, it will not be possible to calculate a result and that learners will be offered an adapted assessment, wherever possible, or will have to wait until assessments can be rescheduled. 

What is the window for providing centre assessment grades?

Centre have been asked to provide centre assessment grades and other information by 19th June 2020. Check with your awarding body for details of the process to follow. 

Will I receive my results for my VTQ the same time as GCSEs and A Levels?

We expect results of sessional qualifications to be awarded no later than A Levels and GCSEs, that is the 13th and 20th August, respectively. This is so that no learner who is hoping to progress onto further study or higher education is disadvantaged. 

Many VTQ Awarding Bodies are aligning their awarding on the same day, either the 13th or 20th August to make things clearer for learners. 

Some VTQ’s that have historically been issued in the weeks before A Levels and GCSEs, may still be issued earlier this year. 

Will there be future assessment opportunities available in the autumn?

Awarding bodies that normally provide an assessment opportunity for learners between September to December, will be expected to take all reasonable steps to continue to do so. 

Where awarding bodies do not normally offer an autumn assessment opportunity, they should do so where there are enough leaners who need to take an assessment, unless it would be impracticable or create a disproportionate burden to offer one. 

Awarding bodies will be able to give more specific information on their plans for assessment in the autumn. 

I’m studying for a Vocational Qualification. Will I get a result this summer?

The landscape for Vocational qualifications is complex and large and a single approach is not appropriate. For vocational qualifications awarding bodies will award qualifications by either calculating results; adapting assessments; or, where neither approach is appropriate, and only as a last resort, delaying assessments until centres re-open.

This applies to learners who would have expected to have completed their assessments and/or received certificates between March and the end of July.

Learners on most qualifications that lead to progression to higher or further education will receive a calculated result this summer.  Calculated results will draw appropriately on a range of evidence, depending on the structure of the qualification. They may be based on part on teacher, trainer or tutor judgements of what result each learner would most likely have achieved had they been able to complete their assessments in summer 2020. Any centre assessment grade will be based on a range of evidence held by the school, college or training provider.

 

I’m studying a new Wales only Vocational Qualification in Health and Social Care and Childcare. Will I get a result this Summer?

We have been working closely with the relevant sector bodies and awarding bodies to agree the best way forward. This suite includes a range of qualifications, some of which assess knowledge while others also assess practical competence. Different qualifications will require different solutions. Details about the approach for each qualification can be found here.

I’m studying a Health and Social Care and Childcare qualifications which was designed to meet the specific needs of the Welsh workforce. Will I get a result this summer?

For level 1 qualifications which offer an introduction to the sector, awarding bodies will be issuing calculated results. For qualifications at Levels 2-5, we are asking awarding bodies to adapt their assessment approaches to enable learners that are near the end of their course to get their results this summer. A list of these qualifications can be found here.

 

I’m studying an Essential Skills Wales Qualification. Will I get a result this Summer?

All Essential Skills Wales learners due to complete their qualification before the end of July will receive a calculated result. The result will be based upon the outcome that their tutor/assessor believed they would receive had they taken the tests. These judgements will be subject to strict oversight by the awarding bodies. More information can be found here.

How will calculating results work in practice?

Depending on the structure of the qualifications, centres* may be asked to provide a centre assessment grade for the whole qualification, or for uncompleted modules or units.

There might be some instances where they are asked to provide a rank order of learners (as with GCSEs, AS and A levels). The awarding body offering the qualification will use any centre-assessed judgement, combined with other relevant information, to determine the most appropriate, calculated result. For example, many learners will already have completed assessments in some modules or units, which will be taken into account.

*Centres (typically schools, colleges or training providers) are bodies that deliver assessments (and other activities) to learners on behalf of awarding bodies.

 

Should I contact my awarding body directly?

Awarding bodies will be in touch with schools, colleges and training providers in the coming weeks to advise them on the information they will be expected to provide about their learners, and when and how it should be submitted. 

If you want to follow your awarding bodies latest updates, here are some useful links:  

 

 

AAT 

OCR 

Ascentis 

Pearsons 

Agored Cymru

Qualifications Network 

Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music 

Qualsafe Awards 

Cambridge Assessment English

RSL 

City and Guilds

STA 

EAL 

Trinity College London

Highfield Qualifications 

UAL

LIBF 

VTCT 

NCFE 

WJEC 

NOCN 

YMCA awards

When will I get my result?

We want this process to be completed in a timely way so that learners can progress, and the aim is for them to receive results at the same time as GCSEs, AS and A level results.  

Can schools and colleges consider evidence from specialist teachers or other professionals when making grading and rank ordering decisions?

A centre should, if applicable, seek further information from teachers and other education professionals who have been supporting a learner, to allow them to make secure judgements about centre assessment grades and a learner’s position in the rank order. This might include, for example, seeking information from teachers in another school, college, or alternative provision, such as a hospital setting. It could also include peripatetic or advisory teachers who may work across a number of centres, such as EAL teachers or qualified teachers of deaf, vision impaired and multi-sensory impaired children and young people.

Can adapted assessments continue beyond 31 July 2020?

Yes. The 31 July deadline refers to the end of the eligibility window for learners who can receive a calculated result. 

There is currently no deadline by which adapted assessments must take place.  However, an awarding body may have imposed cut off dates for adapted assessments for learners requiring results in August. 

When will information on appeals be available?

Some learners will be disappointed with their results.  There will be an opportunity for a centre to submit an appeal on a learner’s behalf. 

Information on appeals will be provided by awarding bodies before the end of the summer term, so that learners, parents, and carers know what options are available. 

What does it mean if my qualification is in the “adapt’’ category?

For qualifications, where there is insufficient evidence to support a valid and reliable calculated result, or for those qualifications that are designed to signal competence in practical skills, a calculated result would not be appropriate.  

In these cases, awarding bodies have been asked to consider how assessments could be adapted, so that results can still be delivered this summer, in a way that is reliable and valid. 

What kind of options are there for adapting qualifications?

There are several ways this could be done; for example: - 

  • Changing the way in which assessments are delivered, using an online rather than a paper-based assessment, or carrying out an assessment remotely rather than face to face. 
  • Adapting assessment methods, such as using a practical simulation instead of observation or a professional discussion instead of a practical demonstration. 
  • Waiving or adjusting work experience or placement requirements. 

Awarding bodies will advise on the most appropriate approach to adaptation of an assessment. 

How will I know what I need to do?

Each centre will receive information from the awarding body explaining what a learner will need to do, to ensure an adapted assessment can work effectively. 

What does it mean if my qualification is delayed?

Delay is the option of last resort, where neither a calculated result nor adapted assessment is possible.  It is likely that around 10% of vocational qualifications will be within the delay category.  If centres re-open in a phased way, it may mean that some delayed assessments may be delivered on site.