What is the latest update from the regulator regarding the awarding of vocational qualifications this summer?

On Friday 22 May 2020, Ofqual published the extraordinary regulatory framework for VTQ qualifications on gov.uk.

The extraordinary framework is now in force which enables awarding organisations to deliver valid and reliable results to as many learners as possible so that they are able to further their plans to continue their education or go into the workplace.

How do we know which mitigation applies to which qualifications?

To help navigate the approach for VTQs this summer, Ofqual has launched a new interactive tool. The tool allows users to search for a specific regulated qualification to find out how results will be generated for the majority of learners. The tool includes qualifications regulated by Qualifications Wales.

Please contact your Lead Quality Officer/Quality Team for clarification on the mitigation that applies to the qualifications you deliver.

We need to complete the estimation spreadsheet by the 12th June 2020. However, it’s proving difficult to obtain all the information by 12th June due to staff being furloughed or redeployed to other areas. If details are submitted after 12th June, will we still be able to claim accreditation for the learners?

Where submissions are made after 12th June 2020 deadline, the temporary extraordinary quality assurance processes may also be delayed accordingly and this could result in a delay in awarding learners. Centres are advised to communicate with us and where appropriate to do so, an application for an extension may be applied.

The prepopulated estimation spreadsheets act as ‘a big claim sheet’, so once these are completed in full and approved through our quality process we will award from this spreadsheet. You will not need to submit claims in the normal way for units/learners included in the prepopulated spreadsheet.

I received estimation paperwork relating to units that were completed before March 2020. They have all been IQA'd and supporting documentation is available, can I submit these claims as usual or do they need to be documented on the estimation form before I submit the claims?

Where courses completed before 20th March and the assessment and IQA process has been applied as normal, then you can submit these claims in the normal way. You do not need to apply for estimation in this case.

When do we need to apply for special considerations?

Centres need to apply for special consideration for qualifications and/or units that form part of a regulated qualification or QALL units where the mitigation is adapt or where an estimation spreadsheet has not been provided but the qualification/unit is in scope for estimation. We advise centres to submit applications as soon as possible. Guidance on where the application for special consideration is appropriate is provided in the update bulletin to centres (28/5/20).

The application for special consideration will need to include a clear rationale for the primary purpose of the unit to enable us to apply the most appropriate mitigation on a case by case basis; this will be very much led by the intelligence you provide.

When will I know if any special considerations that I have applied for have been approved?

Agored Cymru will look at each Special Consideration on a case by case basis and communicate its decision within 10 working days of receipt of a correctly completed application.

What range of adaptations could be used?

The main options for adapting qualifications which we may consider include:

  • Changing the way in which assessments are delivered, for example using an online rather than paper-based test, or carrying out an assessment remotely rather than face to face
  • Adapting assessment methods, for example using a practical simulation in place of an observation, or professional discussion in place of a practical demonstration
  • Changing invigilation requirements, for example allowing the use of online invigilation
  • Waiving or adjusting work experience or placement requirements, for example allowing candidates to have undertaken a shorter period of work experience
  • Changing the way in which a qualification is quality assured, for example allowing for remote or online standardisation or moderation.

How will Agored Cymru ensure a consistent approach to adaptation across centres?

On approving a centre approach to adaption, we will expect centres to:

  • take all necessary steps to minimise risks to validity by ensuring that coverage of the key areas of the construct of the qualification is retained within the adapted assessment
  • act only within the limits of the centre capacity and capability and take all necessary steps to minimise the burden on learners resulting from the introduction of adaptations to assessments
  • ensure, as far as possible, that any adaptations minimise any disadvantage to learners with a protected characteristic

The mitigation of delay has been applied to a qualification, what do we need to do?

Where it is not possible or appropriate to issue a calculated result or offer an adapted assessment, assessments will be delayed. We would expect delayed assessments to take place as soon as possible, when it is safe to do so and ideally no later than the autumn term.

If we make use of technology to continue teaching on a remote basis, is there any flexibility in the specific assessment requirements within the Agored Cymru qualification specifications?

The qualification specification must still be adhered to.

How do we ensure the authenticity of learner assessment evidence undertaken remotely?

Centres must ensure that individual learners produce assessment evidence that is authentic. Staff involved in the assessment process should adhere to relevant centre policies and provide clear and sufficient guidance to learners regarding authenticity of evidence. Centres should ask learners to confirm that their work is their own e.g. through an electronic signature or confirmatory e-mail; by learners adding a statement to their electronic work. However, centres can use a variety of methods to ensure learner work is authentic e.g. supervised online assessment activities; a question and answer session with a learner about their evidence; comparison of learner work completed in classroom to learner work completed remotely.

My learners must complete practical assessments to achieve their Agored Cymru unit(s) / qualifications but they cannot access an assessor due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We understand that COVID-19 will have a direct impact on learner observations as face to face contact will not be possible. Explore if practical assessment can be carried out remotely (and how this can be evidenced). To mitigate the impact, consider if the practical elements of the unit(s) / qualifications can be end loaded until such time that planned assessment strategies can be resumed.

Apply for special considerations by completing the Agored Cymru special considerations form to let us know what alternative arrangements you are planning to support your learners in the assessment process.

Any Special Considerations must be formally approved prior to implementation.

How do we deal with concerns that it may be difficult for learners’ observations and the required number of hours as specified within the qualification specifications to be met?

Centres should continue to ensure observations are recorded and indicate where there has been an issue. Centres should look to reduce the impact on learners through communicating with Agored Cymru and we will consider the potential of adding additional time for the learner to complete the qualification along with alternative delivery methods.

Who do I contact should I have any concerns on the impact that COVID-19 will have on my learners?

We encourage our centres to get in touch. Our team is here to provide support and advice to all Agored Cymru centres. If you would like to speak to anyone about the impact of COVID-19 on learner assessment or quality assurance, please email centre.support@agored.cymru. A member of our Quality Team will get in touch with you promptly. We hold weekly on-line surgeries for our centres to provide up to date information on the Temporary Extraordinary Regulatory Framework. To book please go to Webinars on the Training and Events section on our website,

Are we able to extend course end dates?

Yes, we are happy to accommodate this where possible. Please contact us through centre.support@agored.cymru. We will be happy to assist.

Will external quality assurance activities (EQA) still take place in Summer 2020?

Yes, our extraordinary quality assurance process will be shared with centres in the near future.

What if I am unable to access evidence for EQA and want to submit a claim?

Please contact centre.support@agored.cymru and our quality team will advise you.