Coronavirus - information and advice for customers and learners

On 9 April, the Secretary of State for Education advised Ofqual that assessments for vocational and technical qualifications cannot proceed as planned this summer, given the Covid-19 pandemic.

With this in mind, we would like to update you on our plans for the assessment of NCFE and CACHE qualifications, under the guidance provided and in line with our vision - every learner will gain access to their appropriate achievement prior to September 2020 and can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives.

Submission of Centre Assessed Grades

The extended deadline for submitting CAGs has now passed (as of midday on 24 June) and we’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the centres who made huge efforts to complete this process in a limited timescale, under difficult circumstances. If you submitted your grades prior to the deadline, we can confirm that your learners will receive their results within the published results window. If there were any issues with your submission, you should have received an email from us to ensure any corrections are made and that the process is fully complete.

If you have not yet completed the submission process, you are still able to submit grades using the guidance below, and your learners will receive a calculated result. We will continue to support you and your learners during this process, but must remind you that data received after the extended deadline of 24 June20 may not be received in time to guarantee a result by the published results date.

Guidance on submission of grades

Demo video to guide you through the process

Video on rank ordering

NCFE Guidance on Summer 2020 Awarding: Estimation

We would also like to remind customers to use the correct process for certification claims and grade estimations. If you’re unsure which process you should be using, please refer to:

Bite sized summaries:

Adaptation and delay

The below guide provides subject specific information for around 125 of our adapted qualifications which you can view by sector:

NCFE Guidance on summer 2020 awarding: Adaptation and Delay

We’ve received some queries around the 31 July deadline for adapted assessments, with some extension requests.  The reason for 31 July deadline is to enable us to release our results in line with Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs), supporting learners to move on as planned to the next stage of their lives from September 2020.

However if you’re unable to meet this deadline and do not require results in the 13-20 August window for your learners’ progression, we can still accept adaptations to assessments after the deadline (31 July) and results will be issued (following EQA sign off) but without a guaranteed results release date.

We do expect that once we move into September, there will be no further need for adaptations to assessments. Where centres are unable to operate as normal after September, this can be reviewed on a case by case basis and you can raise this with your External Quality Assurer (EQA).

Our assessment approach and timescales

NCFE continues to work closely with Ofqual on an assessment approach per qualification based on the guidance given. We are committed to supporting you through this journey and are aligning our processes and timelines as closely as possible to JCQ and other awarding organisations to help ensure this has as minimal impact as possible on your resources. It’s important to note that we are bound by the guidelines and timelines set by Ofqual, and are reviewing and adapting our own processes to ensure compliance.

It might be useful for you to take a look at a top level timeline, outlining some key milestones in the coming months.

Eligibility timeframe for learners accessing the estimation process

Learners eligible for mitigated assessments this summer will be those that were expected to be ready for assessment between 20 March and 31 July. Please therefore only register and book learners who haven’t previously been registered or booked, and who you expect would have been ready to sit the assessment within this timeframe. We ask that you complete this process of registering and booking eligible learners by 31 May 2020 where possible, although this can be done until 24 June.

Please note that for Functional Skills learners there is no requirement to book learners on to an assessment for this process.

It is expected that centres will have evidence to prove that the learners would have been ready for assessment which may be checked as part of our Quality Assurance process. Failure to produce evidence as part of our Quality Assurance process could result in a Malpractice investigation (please see policy for further information).  

Mitigated assessments

Mitigated assessments

You can access a full list of NCFE and CACHE qualifications in scope for exceptional arrangements and how they will be assessed – through estimation / calculation, adaptation or delay (rescheduling). In scope qualifications pertain to those at entry level to level 6 and approved for funding as defined by the ESFA and Ofqual.

Qualification Wales has published clear direction on how Health and Social Care / Childcare qualifications will be assessed and CCEA will be following the same guidance. Level 1 qualifications will receive a calculated result, and qualifications which span Levels 2-5 will have an adapted assessment approach. More information on this can be found here. We have also added these qualifications to the list below, in a separate tab for ease of use.

Please note that the list is still subject to change and we will update you if any updates are made

Government updates

The Education Secretary on 9 April issued to Ofqual some clear direction on how the government expects vocational and technical qualifications to be assessed and awarded in the coming weeks and months, confirming that as far as possible these qualifications will be awarded a calculated result. You can read more detail on this here.

18/06/20 - Letter from Sally Collier, Chief Regulator at Ofqual, regarding the awarding of results in vocational and technical qualifications in summer 2020.

22/05/20 - Ofqual consultation for Exceptional arrangements for assessment and grading in 2020

This consultation has now concluded and you can download the full outcome here.

Guidance for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on objectivity in grading and ranking

You may find this guidance helpful in relation to help ensure this year’s grading is as fair as possible  Read more

14/05/20 - The awarding of vocational and technical qualifications, and other general qualifications, in summer 2020

Ofqual has now released a guidance document for those working in centres where assessments for vocational and technical (VTQs) qualifications were scheduled to be taken in summer 2020. In this guidance, there is detailed information on what can be expected in the coming weeks and months for the awarding of VTQs. It also sits alongside a comprehensive set of Frequently Asked Questions.

07/05/20 – Guidance on maintaining education and skills training provision: further education providers

Further operational guidance has been released containing detailed information on new arrangements and responses to questions for organisations delivering further education including general further education colleges, sixth form colleges, and other providers. The guidance will be updated and expanded as further information becomes available and in response to questions from colleges and other providers. You can read more here


The government has published some guidance on online educational resources for schools and parents to help children to learn at home. You can access this here.

We have created a list of resources which can be used by learners, parents and centres. These resources can be found here.

You can also access other elearning support and useful resources through Skills Forward. This includes free access to our Skills Review platform for EPA Plus customers to help assess learners’ gateway readiness.

We understand that the Covid-19 pandemic brings a huge range of challenges when it comes to mental health and general wellbeing. With this in mind, we’ve collated a list of websites and resources which may prove to be a useful reference tool during this time and you can access this here.

Download list of NCFE and CACHE qualifications in scope for exceptional arrangements and how they will be assessed

Download now

In this area you will find guidance for:


Review a top level timeline and key milestones.

View Timeline

Webinar information

General guidance on estimation and adaptation of qualifications webinar – watch this week’s recording now.