Coronavirus update/alternative arrangements for 2020/21

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Coronavirus update for customers

NOCN Group offers a wide range of services including regulated qualifications, EPA for apprenticeships, Job Cards in construction, Access to HE Diplomas, bespoke accreditation, and educational and skills support training.

As you will be aware the government imposed a third national lockdown from Tuesday 5th January 2021. You will find out more operational detail on the implications for each of these services through the following links:

Please note that NOCN Group will be following the guidance issued by the ESFA, IfATE, Ofqual, CCEA Regulation, QAA, and Qualifications Wales, and will update our customers as things change.

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the impact on your centre, apprentices or learners please contact us on nocn@nocn.org.uk or 0300 999 1177.

Update 29th March 2021

On 24th March, Ofqual published the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF) which allows NOCN to provide centres with awarding arrangements for learners who have had their training and assessment disrupted in 2021. To view more information on the arrangements in place by NOCN, please click here.

Using Xbox to Access Online Learning

It is possible for learners to access their online work from home using a gaming console. For guidance on how to do this please download the document here.

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Alternative Arrangements for the Award of VTQs and other General Qualifications

Since March 2020, the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have caused substantial disruption to the continuation of teaching and assessment for all educational establishments and their learners.

NOCN has worked closely with the Qualification Regulators and in conjunction with other Awarding Organisations to support the continuation of Centre training and assessment to allow learners to continue receiving results during the ongoing disruption.

Update From 13th April 2021

Following on from recent developments and the outcome of the ongoing engagement with other Awarding Organisations and Ofqual, NOCN would like to inform centres of some updates to its approach regarding the arrangements in place for the awarding of assessments in 2020/1. These updates are:

There have been some amendments to the categorisation of qualifications. Please refer to the Qualification Categories for Alternative Arrangeements for the latest list. Although this list is required to be kept under review and NOCN encourages centres to keep referring to the latest version, NOCN is confident that conversations across sectors are now firmed up and does not expect there to be any major amendments to the categorisation of qualifications moving forward. Centres and learners are also encouraged to check the Ofqual Summer 2021 Qualification Explainer Tool which provides the arrangements for all in scope qualifications across all Awarding Organisations.

To further support centres, NOCN has provided further clarification around TAG consideration, determination, evidence collation, internal quality assurance requirements as well as provide further information on the external quality assurance process for TAGs. Centres are encouraged to refer to the latest NOCN Approach to Awarding 2020-1 - Guidance for Centres document and the latest What approach should I take to progress my learners? decision tree.

If you have any queries about these updates, please contact us directly at alternativearrangements2021@nocn.org.uk, or quality@oneawards.org.uk if you are a One Awards Centre.



Update From 29th March 2021

Ofqual Consultation on 2020/1 Arrangements (January-March 2021)

In January 2021, the Department for Education decided to close schools and colleges and cancel the majority of summer examinations due to the continuation of both regional and national lockdowns. In response to this, Ofqual launched a consultation on the introduction of additional alternative awarding arrangements given the ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic.

In February 2021, Ofqual published the outcome of their consultation. In publishing the outcome, Ofqual confirmed that a new Regulatory Framework titled the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF) would be introduced to replace (for the most part) the ERF and the EERF.

On 24th March 2021, Ofqual published the outcome of their technical consultation. On the same day, the VTQ Contingency Regulatory Framework (VCRF) came into regulation. The VCRF allows centres to continue to deliver and assess NOCN qualifications through the adaptations made by NOCN, as published on our website. Where this is not possible and the qualification is eligible, centres will be able to apply for the use of Teacher Assessed Grades (TAG).

Overview of 2020/1 Arrangements

Ofqual has recognised that, as a preference, individuals will wish to continue with their learning and assessments, where this is possible. For this reason, the range of accommodations NOCN has already put in place under Ofqual’s Extended Extraordinary Regulatory Framework, including adaptations to assessment and remote invigilation, still remain in place and will continue to do so throughout this academic year.

Following the direction from Ofqual from their recent consultation, NOCN is now able to provide further guidance on the arrangements available where assessments cannot be delivered through the adaptations that have been put in place. The options available to centres and learners regarding the completion of their qualification depend on the purpose, function and nature of the qualification itself.

  • Qualifications used to demonstrate occupational or professional competence, or to enter directly into employment. For these qualifications, the completion of assessments is critical for the qualification to be awarded reliably and safely and therefore assessment should continue as normal, ensuring Public Health England measures are adhered to. Where assessment cannot take place, it will need to be delayed. These are referred to as Category A qualifications.
  • Qualifications most similar to GCSEs, AS and A levels, that are used for progression to further or higher education. These qualifications are taken alongside or instead of GCSEs, AS and A-Levels. NOCN expects that learners studying this style of qualification will have experienced disruption to their education as a result of the limited access to centres by learners. The assessments for these qualifications should be cancelled and awarded through the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade, where appropriate. These are referred to as Category B1 qualifications.
  • Qualifications which are taken for mixed purposes and do not necessarily have to follow an academic cycle, such as Functional Skills and ESOL qualifications. For these qualifications, assessments should continue where it is possible and/or where these can be delivered remotely or through adaptations. Where this is not possible, alternative arrangements can be considered. These are referred to as Category B2 qualifications.

For all learners studying qualifications in Category B2, the preference is for centres to continue to support the continuation of training and assessment as normal or through the identified adaptations. Only where this is not possible, some learners may be in-scope for Teacher Assessed Grades (TAG). The applicability and use of TAGs will be on a learner-by-learner basis and certain evidential thresholds will be required to be met by the Centre to allow NOCN to consider its use.

Ofqual has also produced a Centre guidance on the 2020/21 alternative arrangements, which can be accessed here.

What Category is each NOCN qualification in?

Following the direction from Ofqual, NOCN has reviewed its list of qualifications to categorise them in either Category A, B1 or B2, dependent on their function, purpose and content.

For the latest list of qualifications, please refer to our dedicated categorisation of qualifications page.

What adaptations are in place for NOCN qualifications?

NOCN has worked closely with other Awarding Organisations and sector groups to make adaptations to assessment to support centres in their progression of learners. This includes general adaptations, such as allowing assessment to be delivered remotely or online where this does not impede the assessment requirements of the qualification and making specific adaptions to certain sectors.

For the latest guidance around adaptations, please refer to our dedicated adaptations page.

What is a Teacher Assessed Grade?

A Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) is a judgement of learner achievement against the requirements of an assessment by a Tutor/Assessor, where it has not been possible for the learner to access the assessment that would usually be required. A TAG can be used by centres where they are able to evidence that a learner cannot access a particular assessment and to ensure their progression.

Centres will be required to apply for a TAG at a unit/component level, therefore centres will need to be able to demonstrate sufficient evidence of achievement for each individual unit that they wish to request a TAG for.

It is important to note that a TAG must not be used as a replacement for the delivery of teaching and assessment. A TAG should not be formed based on a Tutor/Assessor’s judgement of how a learner would have performed if an assessment went ahead or how the learner may have performed if the pandemic had not caused disruption. Rather, a TAG must represent a holistic view of learner attainment and be based solely on the teaching and assessment which has been delivered to the individual learner. Therefore, centres must continue to deliver and complete as much training and assessment, as possible to their learners, to the same quality standards which are required by NOCN, whether they are intending to request the use of a TAG or not.

The term Teacher Assessed Grade is being used across General Qualifications, such as GCSEs and A-Levels and Vocational Technical Qualifications to ensure parity between learners taking both types of qualifications. “Teacher” is a defined term by Ofqual which covers a range of rules, it is defined as:

Teacher
A person who prepares any Learner, or any person likely to become a Learner, for assessment for a qualification who does so –

(a) as a lecturer, supervisor, tutor, or other appropriate providers of education or training, or
(b) in circumstances in which that preparation takes place primarily at home

We will soon be producing a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which will be regularly updated. If you would like to clarify or ask a question that is not covered in this guidance please email alternativearrangements2021@nocn.org.uk. For One Awards centres, please email quality@oneawards.org.uk. Your allocated EQA will also be able to support you throughout this process.

What are the requirements around the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade?

Where a Centre is considering the use of Teacher Assessed Grades for their learners, they must first ensure that they have read and understood all of NOCN’s published guidance to ensure sufficient understanding.

NOCN has produced a guidance document detailing all the requirements around Teacher Assessed Grades. Please click here to download the NOCN Approach to Awarding in 2020-1 – Guidance for Centres.

For further information on Teacher Assessed Grades, please refer to our dedicated Teacher Assessed Grade webpage.

What should our Centre do now?

Your Centre must ensure that you familiarise yourself with all of the information and guidance provided by NOCN regarding the alternative arrangements in place to determine an appropriate approach for each of your learners. All centres should carry on delivering training and assessment as far as possible or through the adaptations available for any learner expected to complete their assessments before 31st August 2021. NOCN has produced a diagram which centres can use to aid their thinking. Please click here to view.

Any learner expected to receive a Teacher Assessed Grade must be registered with NOCN. If you are considering the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade for an L1 or L2 Maths, Reading, Writing or ICT examination, please register your learners now with a run start date of 31/08/2021. If it is determined that there is insufficient evidence to determine a TAG, NOCN will facilitate the issue of an examination paper for no extra charge than the initial registration fee.

What support is available?

Centres can continue to contact NOCN with any questions they may have regarding the awarding arrangements for 2020/21. Please continue to contact our Quality Assurance Team at alternativearrangements2021@nocn.org.uk or quality@oneawards.org.uk if you are a One Awards Centre.

To further support centres, NOCN is holding webinars exclusively for NOCN and One Awards centres to talk through NOCN’s guidance and expectations around awarding assessments this academic year. If you are interested in attending, please register your attendance using the links below:

Tuesday 20th April 2pm-3pm
Thursday 22nd April 10am-11am*

*This webinar was originally planned for the 8th April, however has unfortunately had to be re-arranged.

Is my EQA available for support?

Your EQA continues to be available to support you in the progression of your learners. If your Centre is continuing with the normal or adapted model of assessments, then the quality assurance requirements will be the same and will remain unchanged.

NOCN will continue to provide quality assurance support through our office quality team and through our team of External Quality Assurers. NOCN continues to offer remote EQA visits and sampling. To keep centres, learners and NOCN staff safe, the majority of visits and sampling is being conducted remotely. However, we will still maintain face-to-face monitoring where required to ensure the quality of delivery.

Your EQA is available to provide guidance and support around the alternative arrangements in place, including Teacher Assessed Grades. If you are considering the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade, please complete the NOCN Teacher Assessed Grade Expression of Interest Form. Your EQA will contact you directly following the submission of your form to discuss your circumstances. 

If you have any questions about arrangements for 2020/1, please contact our dedicated email address at alternativearrangements2021@nocn.org.uk. One Awards centres please email quality@oneawards.org.uk.

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