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Approach to awarding for 2021-22

As we look ahead in 2021-22, we want to keep you up to date every step of the way. On 6 August, Ofqual and the DfE published the consultation outcomes on ‘Arrangements for the assessment and awarding of vocational, technical and other general qualifications in 2021 to 2022’ and on this page you can find the key information from the consultation outcomes as well as NCFE’s approach to awarding for 2021-22.

Since the spring of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused substantial disruption to teaching, learning and assessment activity in all parts of the education sector. Four principles have driven our response to the pandemic, throughout:

  • supporting learning progress
  • maintaining rigour and robustness
  • streamlining and supporting centres
  • working in partnership for the benefit of learners.

These principles have shaped the changes we have made to our qualifications, assessments and operational processes, where necessary, in the 2021-22 academic session.

Joint Ofqual and DfE consultation outcomes published on 6 August and what this means

On 12 to 26 July, Ofqual and the DfE launched the consultation on the emerging policy steer for arrangements for 2021-22, where the following outcomes were agreed and published:

  • Exams and assessments will go ahead in 2021-22, therefore moving away from results being based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) used in 2020-21, where this was permitted.
  • Some adaptations may be necessary to account for remaining public health restrictions.
  • Recognition has been given to the disruption to teaching and learning this year, with acknowledgment that there is a need to free up teaching time, and address learning loss.
  • For qualifications in Category B1, the starting point will be that all content should be taught but some streamlining of assessments may be necessary to free up teaching and learning to address learning loss from the 2020-21 session.
  • For qualifications in Category B2 and A, the starting point will be that all content should be taught as it is necessary for the valid award of the qualifications but there may be some adaptations to assessments to address public health restrictions.
The consultation outcomes confirm the following minor changes to the VCRF for 2021-22 arrangements:
  • Proposal to move category B qualifications into category A, to enable adaptations to apply to all qualifications, and moving away from results being based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) as used in 2020-21. However, category B provisions will be retained for:
    • the progress of appeals where results are based on TAGs
    • the determination of results for any learners eligible for a TAG who did not receive one in the summer.
  • Results for 2020-21 mid-flight learners based on TAGs will carry forward into 2021-22 or later for longer study programmes.
  • The requirements and guidance on adaptation will be updated to reflect the 2021-22 context, in line with policy steer from the DfE.
  • The consideration of updating the guidance on Remote Invigilation (RI) to include Remote Assessment and to define these terms.
Adaptation blueprint

In response to this consultation, we published our blueprint for the year ahead, outlining our approach to adaptations in 2021-22. The blueprint summarises the adaptations we have put in place for this academic session and how we are adapting NCFE assessment requirements given the flexibilities afforded by the Ofqual VCRF Regulatory Framework.

Our Quality Assurance Policy for Awarding for 2021-22

The guidance provided in our new Quality Assurance policy will give you a clear overview of how you can prepare for external quality assurance reviews this year.

Read more

More detailed adaptation information is now available for most of our qualifications on QualHub. A limited number of qualifications are still being reviewed and you can find details on when to expect adaptations for these in the sections below.

We also delivered a webinar on our proposed approach to awarding this year, which you can catch up on here.

Early Years Educator and Early Years Practitioner qualifications adaptations

For our suite of Early Years Educator (EYE) and Early Years Practitioner (EYP) qualifications, we are liaising with the Department for Education (DfE) and other awarding organisations to agree adaptations in relation to meeting work placements /licence to practice requirements. Updated adaptation documents are now available on QualHub.

We’re delighted to confirm that for learners who may have difficulty in securing work placement opportunities, the knowledge only version of the EYE / EYP qualifications will remain as an option to support and enable learners to progress to further or higher education. Please note that the knowledge only versions of these qualifications will not count in 2022 performance tables for completing learners in 2022, since it does not demonstrate all the necessary characteristics of a performance table qualification. See more information on our EYE / EYP page here. 

Rollover of Dental Nursing adaptations

Last year, we worked with the General Dental Council and other awarding organisations to prepare and allow a number of adaptations, mitigations and additional areas for simulation for our Dental Nursing qualifications. These were designed to support learners in achieving the best possible outcomes, despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Following a comprehensive review, we can confirm that all these existing adaptations will be rolled over to the 2021-22 period to support learners who are continuing to be negatively impacted.

We have also added an additional re-sit opportunity for each of the MCQs. This is relevant to the standalone qualification (NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practice of Dental Nursing 601/2251/1) only and will only be available this year.

Updated adaptation documentation is now available on QualHub.

Education and Training and Assessor/IQA qualifications

The Education and Training Foundation (ETF)’s joint AO guidance, which relates to Education and Training, Assessor and Quality Assurance qualifications, is currently under review and a new version will be republished by October 2021. We will communicate this and upload the new version soon. In the meantime, please refer to the existing guidance published on QualHub.

V Cert qualifications

You can find information relating to adaptations for V Cert qualifications, including both set-date assessments and synoptic project assessments here.

Qualifications regulated by Qualification Wales and CCEA in Northern Ireland

The Qualification Wales and CCEA joint AO guidance which relates to Health and Social Care, and Child Development and Well-being qualifications in Wales and Northern Ireland, is currently under review and a new version will be published imminently. We will communicate this and upload the new version soon. In the meantime, please refer to the existing guidance published on QualHub.


Further support

We stand ready to support you and your staff, and our Customer Support team is available to answer any questions you may have about this year’s arrangements – call us on 0191 239 8000, email us at [email protected], or speak to us on webchat.

Adaptation blueprint

View the adaptations we have put in place for the 2021-22 academic session.

Take a look

Our Quality Assurance Policy for Awarding for 2021-22

The guidance provided in our new Quality Assurance policy will give you a clear overview of how you can prepare for external quality assurance reviews this year.

Read more

Catch up on our webinar

Adaptations for 2021-22.

Watch now