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 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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Support for Learners and their Parents, Guardians or Carers

To support learner progression in response to the disruption to education caused by coronavirus, NOCN is following the direction issued by Ofqual to implement alternative arrangements in place for the awarding of its assessments


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

The options available to centres regarding the completion of your qualification depend on the purpose, function and nature of the qualification that you are studying.

  • 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.

Further Guidance and Support from Ofqual

To provide further support and guidance for learners on the approach that Awarding Organisations are taking to awarding assessments during this period, Ofqual have published a student guidance document, which learners are encouraged to refer to.

Learners can also refer to the Ofqual Summer 2021 Qualification Explainer Tool for further support and guidance regarding the approach being taken for individual qualifications.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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:

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

You should contact your Centre to find out if you are in scope for a Teacher Assessed Grade or not and what this means for you in completing your qualification. Further information can be found on our Teacher Assessed Grade page.

What Category is each NOCN qualification in and what does this mean for me?

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.

NOCN initially communicated its approach to all of its approved centres in March 2021 and provided further updates in April 2021. Therefore, your Centre should be in regular contact with you to discuss progressing you to the completion of your qualification or course of learning.

Your Centre should be aware of what Category your qualification is in and you should contact them directly to discuss your options. If you wish to check this yourself, please refer to our categorisation of qualifications page.

Your Centre should be in contact with you regarding the plan to progress you to completion, whether this is adapted assessment, applying for a Teacher Assessed Grade or if assessment is needed to be delayed. 

What should I do now?

Your Centre will be reviewing what arrangements you are in scope for to put a plan together to progress you to completion. You don't need to do anything until you have heard from your Centre.

Your Centre should be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding the arrangements in place. Further information regarding the arrangements in place can be found here.

When should I receive my result or certificate?

Your Centre should be able to confirm this to you. NOCN will issue results and certificates to its approved centres following the completion of the required quality assurance activities. Your Centre will be able to inform you if these need to take place and when these are expected to be completed.

Will I receive a different kind of certificate if a Teacher Assessed Grade is used?

No - the purpose of a Teacher Assessed Grade is to enable progression, but your assessment evidence will still be quality assured by both your Centre and NOCN and therefore will represent a comparible achievement to a learner who has achieved a qualification without the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade. Your certificate will not reflect the use of a Teacher Assessed Grade.

I haven't heard from my Centre, what should I do?

If you have not heard from your Centre, you should first contact them directly to request if you are being considered for a Teacher Assessed Grade or if your assessment is required to be delayed.

If your Centre is unreachable and you still have concerns, please contact NOCN directly via email at (or if your Centre is a One Awards Centre), ensuring you provide your full name, date of birth, the name of the Centre you are registered with and the name of the qualification/course of learning you are studying. 

I believe I am in scope for a Teacher Assessed Grade but my Centre has confirmed I am not, what can I do?

If your Centre has informed you that you are not in scope for a Teacher Assessed Grade, but you believe you are, you have the right to appeal this decision to the Centre directly. The Centre is required to follow its own appeals procedure to respond to your appeal.

Following the outcome of the Centre's appeal procedure, you are entitled to escalate your appeal to NOCN directly. For further information regarding appeals in 2020/1, please refer to the NOCN Awarding Arrangements - Guidance for Centres Document and the NOCN Appeals Policy and Procedure.