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Vocational Education: Assessments

Question for Department for Education

UIN 127947, tabled on 10 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support he will provide to BTEC students (a) sitting examinations over winter 2020-21 and (b) more generally during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

18 December 2020

Ofqual’s Extended Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (EERF) has been in operation since October for vocational and technical qualifications. This covers all vocational and technical qualifications, including BTECs which are owned by the awarding organisation Pearson. The EERF allows awarding organisations, including Pearson, to adapt qualifications to free up teaching time and respond to public health measures. Given the large numbers of vocational and technical qualifications taken by students and their varying sizes and natures there is not a one-size-fits-all approach that can be applied, and the adaptations will vary by qualification.

Overseen by Ofqual, all awarding organisations have been working with centres over the past few months to make permitted adaptations to qualifications, and students should now be aware of how these adaptations affect their courses, assessments, and exams. For example, some BTEC students will benefit from additional windows in which to complete their assessments to recognise that adhering to social distancing requirements can increase the time needed to complete some assessments.

The Department has also confirmed that all awarding organisations can reduce the number of optional units that are assessed for vocational and technical qualifications included on performance tables. Internal assessments can take up to 30 hours of teaching time, so this means that for students, including BTEC students, the remaining time available can focus on teaching students the knowledge and skills they need to progress.