Coronavirus update for customers

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Coronavirus update for customers

Operational Update on NOCN Group Qualifications and Services

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.

You will find out more operational detail on the implications of COVID19 for each of these services, including advice for students and centres preparing for external assessments, through the following links:

Please note that NOCN will be following the guidance issued by the ESFA, IfATE, Ofqual, CCEA, 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 (Option 1).

Working to support our valued customers

You will be aware of the various Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) announcements and official advice over COVID19.
The situation is unprecedented and has been continually changing. With colleges and schools now closed and the country in effect ‘locked down’, other than essential services, we will endeavour to continue to support you, your apprentices, learners and card applicants through this difficult period.

We support Ofqual’s statement that the most important principle is fairness to all learners and apprentices, not only for those being assessed now, but also for those assessed before COVID-19.

Centre Support

All our staff are working from home, so we are still offering front line support, through telephony, email and web chat as usual.
Certificates for regulated qualifications and cards are being issued to centres in the normal way.
We aim to provide as full a range of our services as possible, where these can be delivered remotely, and we can use remote or recorded assessment methods, whilst maintaining the integrity of the assessment.
All face-to-face appointments for approval visits, External Quality Assurers, and external assessments have been suspended until training centres reopen and normal business resumes.
We are providing digital on-line support, including offering WebEx interviews, developing online invigilated exams in place of physical papers, and digital content support.


Please contact us to discuss how best we can support you on nocn@nocn.org.uk or 0300 999 1177 (Option 1).

Best wishes from all at NOCN to you our valued customers. We hope you all remain safe and well.

Graham Hasting-Evans, Group Managing Director

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Guidance for Centre Assessment Grades

Guidance for Centre Assessment Grades for Awarding Organisation Calculated Results and Adaptations. Summer 2020 results for vocational, technical and other qualifications.

RESULTS & APPEALS

Contents

Centre Guidance: Submission of Centre Assessment Grades and Adaptations (last updated: 08/06/2020)

Centre Guidance: Interim Approach to Claiming Construction Training Diploma Knowledge Tests (last updated:08/07/2020)

New dates for issuing of calculated results (last updated: 22/05/2020)

Estimation Process Guidance (last updated: 22/05/2020)

Clarifying NOCN Policy on Estimations and Adaptions (last updated: 22/05/2020)

Policy Statement (last updated: 22/05/2020)

Frequently Asked Questions (last updated: 09/06/2020)

Centre Guidance: Submission of Centre Assessment Grades and Adaptations

This guidance informs centres of how to submit Centre Assessment Grades and adaptions to NOCN, which will be a different process from which you will be used to.

Centre Guidance: Submission of Centre Assessment Grades and Adaptations (last updated 08/06/2020)

Summer Assessment Series 2020: Guidance document (last updated 22/05/2020)

Centre Guidance: Interim Approach to Claiming Construction Training Diploma Knowledge Tests

This guidance has been produced to inform centres of how to claim for a knowledge test within one of NOCN’s construction training diplomas, where the Centre has decided to determine a Centre Assessment Grade or the unit. If they wish to, centres are also able to allow learners to complete their knowledge tests using our newly launched remote invigilation service. Please contact NOCN directly for further information regarding remote invigilation.

Please note that this guidance only applies to learners, registered on programme on or before 20th March, who were expected to sit their knowledge test between the 20th March and the 31st July, but have been affected by the COVID-19 disruption. Centres must not submit a Centre Assessment Grade for learners outside of this period. This will be considered malpractice by NOCN.

Centre Guidance: Interim Approach to Claiming Construction Training Diploma Knowledge Tests (last updated 08/07/2020)

New dates for issuing of calculated results

Following a discussion with Ofqual, we are amending the dates for when NOCN will be confirming results to centres following the completion of the calculated results process. This was originally communicated as taking place between 6th July and 14th August.

The period of results issue has now been amended to:

Level 3 and above qualifications – By 12th August

Entry Level to Level 2 qualifications – By 19th August

These have been amended to fall in line with national GCSE and A-Level result days. NOCN encourages centres to submit their Centre Assessment Grades as soon as they are able to, once the submission window opens on the 8th June. All Centre Assessment Grades must be submitted to NOCN by the 31st July to allow for the required quality assurance activities to take place.

Estimation Process Guidance

NOCN has developed guidance documents for centres regarding the estimation process. This guidance covers:

  • How the estimation process will work.
  • How centres can prepare for the estimation process.
  • What information centres should include in their estimation policies.
  • General guidance for centres regarding the Centre Assessment Grades process.
  • The recording of Centre Assessment Grades.
  • The role of the Head of Centre.
  • Information regarding standardisation, quality assurance, malpractice and appeals.

Please click here to download the guidance document.

The document also contains specific information regarding NOCN’s Functional Skills Qualifications (both legacy and reform) (Appendix 1) and includes a policy template that centres may wish to utilise (Appendix 2).

Clarifying NOCN Policy on Estimations and Adaptions

To aid centres’ understanding of NOCN’s policy regarding estimations and adaptations, NOCN has published the below policy documents:

The policy documents contain important information regarding NOCN’s policy on calculated results and adaptions of its qualifications. They may be useful for centres in determining their own policies. These documents are subject to change as Ofqual’s Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF) develops.

Policy Statement

NOCN have been provided direction by Ofqual that we must ensure that the maximum number of learners who have been affected by the disruption receive valid results, that accurately reflect, as far as possible, the most likely result they would have achieved if they had been able to undertake their assessments as planned. NOCN believes that many of our qualifications can be safely awarded using the ‘normal’ model of assessment for the qualification or with minor adaption, e.g. Construction NVQs having more evidence from other means than just site observation. For these types of qualifications, NOCN will instruct centres to adapt their qualification delivery model.

Where it is not possible to adapt the assessment model, NOCN is informing centres, in line with the guidance published by Ofqual, that learners who have been unable to complete their qualification must be issued with a calculated result. This will be based on a on Centre-made assessment grade. NOCN will quality assure Centre-made assessment grades to issue learners with a calculated result. The calculated result will hold as much merit as other results issued to learners who have not been affected by the COVID-19 disruption.

Only as a last result will NOCN instruct centres to delay assessment until the current period of disruption eases.

In this communication, NOCN will:

  • Inform centres of whether a qualification’s assessments must be adapted or whether a learner’s result must be calculated.
  • Provide centres with guidance on determining an assessment grades.
  • Provide information to centres on the submission and awarding procedure of assessment grades.
  • Provide information to centres on how assessment grades will be quality assured to issue calculated results to learners.
  • Inform centres of the relevant timeframes and timelines of required activities.


You can view the latest Ofqual guidance for centres here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Which assessments will be calculated and which can be adapted?
  2. Can a centre change the agreed mitigation approach for a qualification?
  3. How does adaptation work?
  4. What is a centre assessment grade?
  5. What kind of evidence can be considered to determine an assessment grade?
  6. Is there a minimum evidence threshold to allow for a calculated result?
  7. What procedure must we follow in determining an assessment grade for a learner?
  8. Do we need to consider Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations?
  9. How will assessment grades be submitted to allow for calculated results to determined?
  10. What should our Centre be doing between now and the publication of the Special Arrangements for Calculated Results and Adaptations spreadsheets?
  11. What will NOCN do with the supplied information on the Special Arrangements for Calculated Results and Adaptions spreadsheet?
  12. How will estimated results be claimed?
  13. What happens if we have forgotten to register a learner?
  14. What do centres record on the 'NOCN Special Arrangements Information for Calculated and Adapted Results' spreadsheet where a learner's assessment will not be calculated or adapted?
  15. Sector Specific Guidance
  16. Calculated Results Report Technical Support Webinar - 8th July 2020

1. Which assessments will be calculated and which can be adapted? 

The decision of whether to adapt an assessment or issue a calculated result has been made by NOCN per qualification and has taken into account the content of the qualification, how the qualification is assessed, whether the qualification leads to employment or higher education and ensuring that standards can be maintained.

A full list of qualifications, alongside whether they must be adapted or a calculated result issued can be found here.

For a small minority of qualifications, NOCN has determined that they cannot be safely adapted or a calculated result be issued and therefore learner assessment must be delayed until lockdown restrictions have eased. NOCN will amend its permission on these qualifications as soon as it is safe to do so.

Sector-specific guidance can be found towards the end of this guidance.


2. Can a centre change the agreed mitigation approach for a qualification?


If your Centre wants to deviate from NOCNs agreed mitigation approach please contact your EQA or our Customer Services Team as soon as possible: nocn@nocn.org.uk, they will be able to discuss the best course of action.

For centres working with One Awards please contact your EQA to discuss any proposed deviations.

3. How does adaptation work?

For each unit where evidence is not sufficient to claim for learner achievement or, where a unit signals professional competency, centres should look to adapt assessment to ensure fairness to its learners and support learner progression.

Where adapted assessment is necessary, the following are types of learner assessment evidence should be considered to generate evidence for key outcomes of learning:

  • Remote testing (this could be paper based, app based, online, audio, video): This should contain content to assess skills, knowledge and understanding which is outlined in the Unit Specification. NOCN is currently working with our system providers to implement remote invigilation to allow learners to complete knowledge assessments in the usual manner.
  • Cross-assessing with other units: evidence gathered from assessment in other units undertaken by learners is likely to include content which can be used to contribute more widely to meet assessment criteria elsewhere. This needs to be subject to standardisation by the Centre’s internal quality assurance system.
  • Professional Discussion: using and recording professional discussion between a learner and an assessor focusing on, and enhancing, evidence already provided or demonstrated by the learner - including real work activities, practical tasks, a case study, project, portfolio or some other form of assessment.
  • Practical assessment: Where possible, evidence may be assessed using remote assessment (video, photographic, portfolio, witness testimony), alongside work already demonstrated and assessed.

Centres must be able to provide evidence to support their assessment decisions. Internally quality assurance and standardisation activities must continue in line with a Centre’s IQA policy and requirements and all records must be retained for external quality assurance.
Centres and curriculum areas must also ensure that any amended assessment methods are:

  • Valid - they assess what they are intended to. This can be ensured by mapping new methods and tasks to learning outcomes and assessment criteria.
  • Reliable - that methods produce comparable results irrespective of where or when they are applied.
  • Sufficient - evidence should be gathered from a variety of sources, where possible. This may be evidence which has already been generated or may involve assessors providing learners with additional and alternative opportunities to demonstrate their competence, knowledge and understanding through a range of reasonable and practicable alternative activities (e.g. open book essay or report writing in lieu of closed book, assessment video observation, time-limited assessments, and professional discussion).

Full records of adaptations must be kept at the Centre and details submitted to NOCN. The submission process is explained in point 9.

4. What is a Centre assessment grade?

A Centre assessment grade will be decided by centres by drawing on a variety of sources of trusted evidence to form a judgement on what the learner would have achieved if they had been able to complete their assessment. For the majority of NOCN qualifications, this will be either pass or fail. The assessment grade will primarily be based on Tutor and/or Assessor judgements of a learner’s likely performance and attainment if the COVID-19 disruption had not occurred. NOCN will support centres during this process if required. The judgement must be based on the assumption that the assessment would have been no easier or harder than previous years to prevent learners from being disadvantaged.

The Centre assessment grade will be quality assured by NOCN to issue a calculated result for each learner for whom a Centre submits an assessment grade. The calculated result will be used to claim learner achievement of the qualification and therefore must be robust enough to still meet qualification and sector requirements. Learners who receive a calculated result will be issued with the same qualification certificate that they would have expected to receive if they completed their qualification outside of the COVID-19 disruption.

5. What kind of evidence can be considered to determine an assessment grade?

NOCN understands that centres may not have complete records of assessment and therefore the evidence used by centres will vary for each learner, for each qualification. Centres must only make judgements based on the evidence that they have available.

Different sources of evidence will have different levels of trust applied to them and therefore NOCN will request that centres rank evidence used to calculate a result from which they believe has the highest level of trust to least. Where evidence provides insufficient trust to determine an assessment grade, centres should consider alternative options. This will be for the Centre to decide dependent on the individual situation of the learner.

Evidence that could be used includes, but is not limited to:

  • ‘Banked assessments’ – where any units have already been claimed and externally quality assured by NOCN (where Centre does not hold DCS)
  • Assessments completed and internally quality assured, but not externally quality assured by NOCN.
  • Assessments completed, but not internally quality assured.
  • Previous examination results or assessment outcomes, for example any re-sitting learners or those who have completed similar qualifications.
  • Outcomes of centre synoptic assignment tasks.
  • Any formative or practice exam/assessment results.
  • Participation and performance in skills-based activities.
  • Overall learner performance and progress, including level of attendance prior to Centre closure.
  • Tutor or Assessor assessment tracking records and individual learning plans.
  • Any other records of learner performance over the course of study.

6. Is there a minimum evidence threshold to allow for a calculated result?

To ensure a robust process, NOCN suggests a minimum evidence threshold of one completed summative assessment for portfolio-based units, which can be supported by other available forms of formative assessment where available.

Centres must make a professional judgement of whether the learner has undertaken sufficient assessment for them to be awarded a valid and fair assessment grade for their overall qualification.

For Functional Skills qualifications, Centres must consider all valid evidence. The evidence should be used to form a judgement about whether the learner would pass or fail the component.

7. What procedure must we follow in determining an assessment grade for a learner?

Centres will need to develop their own policy and procedure for determining assessment grades for affected learners. Centres are supported through this process via discussion and agreement with the NOCN Quality Assurance Team.

All assessment grades must be internally quality assured by the Centre’s IQA and signed off by the Centre’s Head of Organisation before submission to NOCN.

For further guidance regarding Functional Skills, please click here

For further guidance regarding ESOL Skills for Life, please click here

8. Do we need to consider Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations?

Yes. NOCN promotes the use of a range of methods to assess the skills and knowledge of all learners. Fair assessment is the process by which the assessments and assessment methods used are designed to give all learners appropriate opportunities to demonstrate achievement, whilst considering any reasonable adjustments.

Centres must consider their Access to Fair Assessment Policy when determining assessment adaptations and making a judgement regarding Centre assessment grades to ensure that the assessment methods are relevant and meet the needs of all learners.

9. How will assessment grades be submitted to allow for calculated results to determined?

The summary of this process can be seen in the timeline created by NOCN. This can be downloaded here.

Centres must ensure that all learners who the Centre were expecting to receive a certificate for that qualification (or a result of an assessment component) this summer are registered with NOCN, in the usual way, via Quartzweb, as soon as possible.

From the 8th June, Centres will be able to run a report from Quartzweb which will contain a full list of active learners who have been registered by the centre. This report will be automatically stored on the Quartzweb system as an Excel spreadsheet. This will be referred to as the ‘NOCN Special Arrangements for Calculated Results and Adaptions’.
The Special Arrangements for Calculated Results and Adaptions spreadsheet must be used by centres to record their Centre-assessment grades and to record their adaptations of assessments. Centres should try to complete the document as far as possible to prevent any unnecessary delays. Guidance on how to do this in Quartweb can be found here.

Centres must submit their completed spreadsheet back to NOCN via Quartzweb by no later than 31st July 2020. Once submitted, please confirm this to our Quality Team at assurance@nocn.org.uk to trigger the next stage of the process.

For One Awards centres: centres must submit their completed spreadsheet to One Awards via Quartzweb by no later than 31st July 2020. Once submitted, please confirm this via email to Quality@oneawards.org.uk

Centres are encouraged to populate the spreadsheet and submit to back to NOCN as soon as they are able to complete the judgement of grades and adaptations process within their Centre. They do not need to wait for the deadline.

Instruction on how to access and upload the spreadsheet on Quartzweb will be issued to all Approved Centres in due course.

A process flowchart illustrating the calculated result process from start to finish can be downloaded here.

10. What should our Centre be doing between now and the publication of the Special Arrangements for Calculated Results and Adaptations spreadsheets?

Centres should now be working internally to create their own policy for forming a judgement of learner assessment grades where learners have not been able to complete their assessment for qualifications which are marked as ‘calculated result’ on the full list of qualifications published above.

For qualifications which are marked as ‘adapt’ centres must devise their own internal assessment model, ensuring that the assessment follows the requirements of point 3 of this guidance.

Where a Centre is unable to complete this process due to the COVID-19 disruption, or wishes to delay assessment until disruption eases, please contact the Quality Assurance Team as soon as possible.

11. What will NOCN do with the supplied information on the Special Arrangements for Calculated Results and Adaptions spreadsheet?

To ensure a fair and robust determining of assessment grades, NOCN will implement a quality assurance sampling activity prior to the confirmation and release of calculated results to centres. This will be completed by the Quality Assurance Team and NOCN External Quality Assurers.

NOCN and its team of External Quality Assurers will review the information provided by centres. At this point, NOCN may request evidence used by centres to calculate an estimated result to be provided to NOCN for external quality assurance purposes.

12. How will estimated results be claimed?

Once quality assured, NOCN will confirm acceptance of Centre adaptations of assessment and will issue confirmed calculated results for each learner. Once confirmed by NOCN, the Centre can claim the calculated results using Quartzweb, in the usual way, to claim for certification.

Once claimed, results will be certificated following normal NOCN procedures.

If a Centre inputs grades on Quartz before the spreadsheet is approved by the EQA, then this will be identified and the Certificates retracted at the Centre’s cost. Centres can continue to claim for learners which sit outside of this process and have been able to complete their qualification as normal.

13. What happens if we have forgotten to register a learner?

If learner is missing from a Centre’s spreadsheet, please contact your EQA or our Customer Services Team, who will be able to identify the best course of action.

For centres working with One Awards please contact cst@oneawards.org.uk

14. What do centres record on the 'NOCN Special Arrangements Information for Calculated and Adapted Results' spreadsheet where a learner’s assessment will not be calculated or adapted?

Where a learner’s assessment will not be calculated or adapted the centre will still need to record whether their assessment is to be delayed or continue as usual. The spreadsheet will allow Centres to record this information for each learner but no results will be entered.

15. Sector Specific Guidance

Accounts and Finance
As per the ‘Accounts and Finance’ tab on the spreadsheet found in point one of this guidance.

Construction
For construction trade NVQs and NOCN’s training qualifications, as per the ‘construction’ tab on the spreadsheet found in point one of this guidance.

Please refer to the COVID-19 Addendum to the Consolidated Assessment Strategy issued by CITB for the delivery of S/NVQ’s as a temporary revision of the CAS.

Digital and Productivity
NOCN expects that learners will be able to complete their qualifications as normal due to the nature of these qualifications.

Employability
As per the ‘Employability’ tab on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

Engineering
As per the ‘Engineering’ tab on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

Forest School and Volunteering
Due to the nature of these qualifications, it is not possible to adapt delivery or issue a calculated grade and therefore learners must have their assessments delayed until lockdown restrictions are eased.

Hair and Hospitality
As per the ‘Hair and Hospitality’ tab on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

Management, Team Leading and Employee Rights and Responsibilities
As per the ‘Management, Team Leading etc’ tab on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

Nursing, Health and Medical
As per the ‘Nursing, Health and Medical’ tab on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

Public Services (Security, Facilities Management)
As per the ‘Public Services’ tab found on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

NOCN is currently exploring remote invigilation for Security qualifications which are examined.
Due to the nature of the NOCN Working as a Door Supervisor qualification, centres must delay any future delivery of the qualification until lockdown restrictions have eased.

Religion and Celebrancy
As per the ‘Religion and Celebrancy’ tab found on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

Retail
As per the ‘Retail’ tab found on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

Skills for Life
For further guidance regarding Functional Skills, please click here
For further guidance regarding ESOL Skills for Life, please click here.  

Teaching and Lecturing
As per the ‘Teaching and Lecturing’ tab found on the spreadsheet found in point one of this guidance.

Trade Union
As per the ’Trade Union’ tab found on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

NOCN has worked with the TUC to determine a common approach. Centres should contact NOCN or their Regional Education Officer for further information.

Youth Work
As per the ‘Youth Work’ tab found on the spreadsheet found in point 1 of this guidance.

16. Calculated Results Report Technical Support Webinar - 8th July 2020

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