Functional Skills and ESOL Skills for Life Update March 2021
Ref : B21-25
Type : Amendment
Date : 29 March 2021
Skills for Life Update March 2021
Functional Skills, ESOL and Awards
Type : Amendment
Date : 29 March 2021
Functional Skills Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) Guidance
On 24th March 2021, Ofqual announced the introduction of the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework. The introduction of the framework follows the consultation on the alternative arrangements for the awarding of qualifications for the 2020/1 academic year. The consultation on alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021 sets out for Functional Skills that; ‘Where these can be delivered in line with public health measures, including remotely, the Department’s policy position is that they should be permitted to continue to proceed.’ For learners who are unable to access Functional Skills assessment, that alternative arrangements must be in place.
Principles of any alternative arrangements for Teacher Assessed Grades for Functional Skills:
• Live testing will continue as this is the preferred method of assessment for Functional Skills. Functional Skills assessments can be taken face to face in accordance to the guidance provided or alternatively assessments can be carried out using adaptations such as Remote Invigilation. https://www.nocn.org.uk/support/systems-support/remote-invigilation/
• A TAG should only be submitted after all other alternative arrangements have been exhausted, as live testing is the primary method of awarding for Functional Skills. The alternative approach is a ‘last resort’ for learners where a centre can clearly demonstrate a learner is unable to take a live assessment.
• A TAG should only be requested when learners are ready for assessment, but are unable to access an assessment safely.
• A TAG is submitted against each learner on an individual basis, not whole cohorts.
• TAG results generated under any alternative arrangement can be returned to centres in a similar way to the normal process (i.e. remaining true to the on-demand model of assessment) to enable learners to progress.
• Learner eligibility will be determined by clearly defined criteria which must be adhered to.
• Centres must hold suitable evidence to support any teacher assessed grade.
• Eligibility and evidence to support a TAG may be requested for External Quality Assurance purposes.
Functional Skills TAG applications will remain in place until 31 August 2021 when the VCRF expires. Only learners you expected to be entered for assessment between 1 August 2020 and 31 August 2021, who are deemed to be eligible, with suitable evidence to support a pass grade should be put forward. TAGs will only be available where assessments cannot be delivered through the adaptations that have been put in place (Adaptation Guidance for Centres).
The TAG approach will replicate, as far as possible, the on-demand principles currently adopted for the majority of Functional Skills testing. Therefore, we will operate an approach which enables centres the opportunity to access the adaptations in place as well as the usual face to face assessment option. Centres should select learners for a TAG in line with the eligibility criteria (TAG Flowchart - March 2021), gather appropriate evidence, complete internal standardisation and enable NOCN to complete quality assurance activities and issue results in a timely manner.
You will need to determine if the learners are eligible for a TAG. You will need to demonstrate that the learner cannot engage with assessments as normal and cannot:
• Access a face to face assessment
• Access an adaptation i.e. remote invigilation
• Delay the assessment
If the learner is not safe to carry out the assessments in line with public health guidance and all avenues have been exhausted, you should proceed with gathering evidence to support an application for a TAG.
Criteria and evidence requirements
The following criteria will support you in your judgements. You will need to have clear records in place which we may review as part of any quality assurance process to provide reassurance that the learners selected are eligible and any outcomes are robust and a true reflection of the learner’s likely achievement.
TAG requirements TAG Evidence to support application
Reason for learner’s eligibility including:
• Why learner cannot take a live test
• Why the result is required (no delay) Declaration from the Head of the Centre. Teacher/assessor judgement and rationale.
Evidence of adaptations accessed.
Is the qualification time bound and required for progression?
• have clear supporting evidence in place to demonstrate progression and readiness for assessment
• be due to complete during the submission period Tracking of learner progress to demonstrate the learner’s journey and readiness for assessment.
Assessment to be taken between 1st August 2020 and 31st August 2021.
Evidence for TAG submission:
Centre must have a body of evidence that a teacher can use to form the basis of their TAG judgement Recommended evidence includes, but not be limited to:
• Completed a sample/past paper completed as a mock test including the conditions the mock was taken under
• Formative assessments and/or results
• Marked written work
This can be further supported by other evidence which may include, but is not limited to:
• Any other learner work towards the qualification (ie work they have independently undertaken in class or at home)
• Learner work demonstrating the skills assessed by FS qualifications that has been completed in support of another qualification learning aim
Using the evidence, the teacher can confirm that they believe the learner would have passed/achieved the assessment Evidence described above with teacher justification using agreed pass descriptors to demonstrate how the evidence aligns
While the use of a past/sample paper is not mandated, we highly recommend the use of this materials as a key part of any supporting evidence as these tests have been produced by NOCN and are therefore seen as a standardised source of evidence.
Centres must retain the supporting evidence within the centre for use as part of any quality assurance process the awarding body may put in place to verify the outcomes for all learners.
Conditions for completion of the mock test will not be mandated but the test used must be an awarding organisation produced sample paper and mark scheme, practice or past paper made available by the awarding organisation for this purpose. While conditions for completing the mock tests are not mandated, centres should assess the conditions of these tests and implement measures to ensure that the work is authentic, and that tests are completed within the normal duration specified.
As test conditions are not mandated it is essential that centres record the conditions under which mock tests have been completed and other supporting evidence is available to corroborate the mock test outcome and provide reassurances of the learner’s overall ability to achieve the qualification and progress.
To support centres through the TAG process please click here to download the Awarding in 2021 - Guidance to Centres Document.
If you feel your learner/s could be eligible for a TAG, please fill in the Expression of Interest form using this link – https://forms.office.com/r/Y85z1AqZR5
Upon receipt of your form, the Assurance team will be in touch to discuss and support you through the process.