facebook pixel

Successful outcomes in the face of adversity - our case studies

Successful outcomes in the face of adversity

At NCFE, our vision is that every learner will achieve their full potential this year, regardless of the challenges ahead. So, we’re delighted to share some stories of wonderful learners who have succeeded against the odds and are now flourishing in the next stage of their lives – including working frontline in our NHS.

Read our collection of short case studies to find out more about the fantastic things NCFE learners have achieved in the past year.

Covid-19 response for 2020-21

Visit our Covid-19 response hub for information on our approach for awarding for 2020-21.


NCFE’s remote invigilation supporting NHS keyworker to success

Jake Reading is a Functional Skills learner and NHS healthcare assistant and is completing his assessment through remote invigilation so he can take the next step in his journey to becoming a mental health nurse.

Jake commented: “This is my first time completing an NCFE Functional Skills qualification and being able to do the assessment remotely is great. The benefit of remote invigilation for me is the convenience of fitting in an exam around working full-time in the NHS as a keyworker, and juggling a busy home life with young children.

“My aspirations for the future are to build on my experience working in mental health, to apply for a degree course and ultimately become a mental health nurse. Gaining my NCFE Functional Skills qualification will support me on this journey and it’s great that the process has been so easy. The flexibility of remote invigilation and online learning is a fantastic opportunity for me to gain new skills and a qualification, which will enable me to progress my career.”

End-point assessment success for frontline healthcare worker

Iona Henderson, from the Emergency Assessment Unit in South Tyneside Foundation Trust, has successfully completed the Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) assessment, the first part of her end-point assessment (EPA), with EPA Plus for the Level 2 Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship standard. This is a fantastic achievement for Iona, who has been working extremely hard in the healthcare sector during the pandemic, and she was one of the first to complete the MCQ assessment through a digital proctoring process.

Digital solutions for remote assessments

EPA Plus has proactively worked with regulators to enable flexibilities and expanded their digital solutions so that all assessments can now take place remotely.

Jonathan Kosyl, Programme Leader (Apprenticeships - Health) at Sunderland College, said: “We’re really proud of Iona’s success with the first part of her EPA; she has developed well throughout her apprenticeship and she is very well thought of on her ward within the South Tyneside Foundation Trust. It’s great that Iona has still been able to progress and complete the first part of her end-point assessment using digital solutions.”

From an apprentice’s perspective

Iona commented: “The global pandemic resulted in me not being able to take my end-point assessment MCQ exam in the usual way, however it was great to be able to complete it virtually. Instead of having an exam invigilator present with me, I used the new proctoring system.

“Initially I felt a little nervous as I had never come across anything like this before, but I was given full guidance and information on how to set up the software prior to the date of my assessment. As soon as the assessment started I felt at ease and it was a nice environment in which to be doing it. I didn’t feel nervous or under pressure at all and it was good to have no possible distractions. I’m very pleased with my end result and proud of myself as I received a ‘Merit’ in the assessment.

“All of the guidance from my college and EPA Plus helped me towards the final result that I was hoping for.”

Turning learning loss into learning gains – adapting and evolving is key 

Birmingham based Swift ACI Childcare offers the NCFE CACHE Childcare Standards in Level 2 and Level 3, as well as delivering Functional Skills through our Remote Invigilation solution. Jack Edwards, Academy Manager at Swift Childcare, shared his experience of the measures they’ve taken to combat learning loss, and how we’ve worked together to get through the pandemic:

When the pandemic hit, large scale adaptation was required across the board. We had to facilitate remote learning which was something we had never done before - our entire delivery model went out of the window as we started a blank slate. Functional Skills exams were not able to be sat so we focused on revision and preparation for when it was safe to go ahead. We also used the remote invigilation service which was a great way to minimise disruption and we saw success from learners being able to pass their exams from home.

“Where learners weren’t able to be observed in the workplace, we adapted and asked for further evidence of them putting their learning into practice in different ways, such as photos and witness testimonies from employers. We also used the time to gather more feedback from employers which was so useful and helped us to bridge the gap between employer, provider, and assessor.

A clean slate with so many long-term benefits 

“Despite the stress and upheaval, being able to essentially start again with our delivery plan and model was a blessing because we’ve been able to focus on the things that really work for both students and employers alike. Remote delivery wouldn’t have felt achievable 18 months ago but now it really works. Learners have more time for self-directed study, it has relaxed time and deadline pressures of exams, and removed the travel burden for students by not having to travel to study every day.

“The adaptations to qualifications facilitated by NCFE have really helped us to overcome the potential loss to learning through their unparalleled support. We have hundreds of apprentices who could have been severely affected by a loss in learning but because of the measures we were able to collectively put in place, as little as 3% were negatively impacted.

Pastoral support for our learners and the importance of learner monitoring  

“We have placed significant emphasis on pastoral support to help with everything from cyber security, to mental health and how to manage lone working. We’ve also had every learner on an individual action plan to see exactly where learning loss could occur and where we can intervene. Our key message to them throughout the pandemic has been about the importance of working together and that we’ve got their back – we’ll get through this together, one step at a time. The response to this has not only been positive from a learner perspective, but also from our staff members as it has generated a strong spirit of collaboration and pulling together towards a collective goal.

Celebrating success 

We’ve seen some incredible success from our learners passing their Functional Skills qualifications and achieving distinctions and passes in their End Point Assessments despite significant barriers to learning. They’ve really done us proud!

Read more

Learners at Burnley College celebrate success

Childcare and Education learners at Burnley College achieve successful outcomes despite interruptions and alterations due to Covid-19.

Overcoming challenges

At the beginning of the pandemic, Burnley College put together a comprehensive remote learning programme to support their Childcare and Education learners to achieve even without access to the classroom. Learners were actively engaged in the remote learning approach, which was a great way to prepare them for entering employment or starting university. Lecturers at Burnley College worked extremely hard to ensure the best possible outcome for all learners.

Lianne Bradford, Early Years Lecturer at Burnley College, commented: “The support from NCFE during the Covid-19 pandemic was greatly appreciated. It was imperative for us that our learners would continue to progress, develop, and achieve regardless of the situation.”

Stepping stone to achieve future goals

Caitlin, a CACHE Level 3 Childcare and Education learner at Burnley College, said: “I thought this course was an excellent way to introduce and progress my learning within the early years and a great stepping stone which I’m glad I took to achieve my future goals. I really enjoyed the mix of college and placement as I felt like it was a good balance. It helped me to learn how to work in the workplace as well as gaining practical knowledge of childcare. I now feel ready to move onto studying primary teaching in the early years at university as this course has effectively prepared me for this.”

Another learner, Jasmine, commented: “I chose to do this course because I knew I wanted to work with children in the future and it seemed like a good option as I knew I would get lots of first-hand experience in the early years. Throughout my time on the course I have grown in confidence when working not only with children but with other members of staff which will set me up well in my journey to becoming a primary school teacher.”

End-point assessment success for Wiltshire College

Carla Maguire, a Teaching Assistant apprentice at Wiltshire College, achieved end-point assessment success despite alterations to her assessment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

NCFE’s EPA Plus has proactively worked with regulators to enable flexibilities and provide alternative solutions to in-person assessments, if they can’t go ahead due to the pandemic. These flexibilities allowed EPA Plus to respond quickly to the changing situation presented by Covid-19 and meet the needs of providers, employers and apprentices.

Sharon Hanney, Assessor at Wiltshire College, commented: “We’re so pleased with the outcome of Carla’s EPA. Carla was in Gateway as we were heading for lockdown, which was a concern for all of us. She rose to the challenge and completed her portfolio within 6 weeks, of 3 months, meaning that her portfolio could be presented before the college and school closed. Carla had completed all the training tasks that I had set throughout the apprenticeship, so she had lots of evidence to draw on and was able to produce a detailed portfolio.

“We had to wait to hear how the observation element could be carried out. As soon as I heard that Carla could submit a reflective account instead, I informed her and within two weeks this was submitted. It’s great that she was able to complete her apprenticeship despite the pandemic.

Carla said: “I’m truly overjoyed that I’ve completed my end-point assessment. What a journey it has been! I’m so proud to be able to take all I’ve learned forward in my role. I’ve got a new love for learning and appreciate the feedback from EPA Plus and Wiltshire College.”

Supporting learners at Fareham College to succeed during the pandemic

Faculty Director of Health, Science and Education at Fareham College, Michelle Young, shares how they have overcome the challenges that they have faced in the past year, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michelle said: “We have found it very tricky supporting our students to gain experience in the workplace. Encounters with employers are essential to learners developing their skills, knowledge, and behaviours ready for the workforce. Thankfully, employers that we work closely with have been very supportive, and with some timetable remodelling we’ve managed to ensure most students will get this experience at some point throughout the year.”

Recognising the positives

“Although it must be said that the situation this year has had some positive aspects. For this academic year we have added online sessions to most learners’ timetables, utilising the digital skills both staff and learners gained during the pandemic. We had this in our development plans to improve digital skills across the college, but the pandemic has allowed us to accelerate this development. These digital skills will also enable learners to be employment ready as they are essential workplace skills. The learners were very pleased we continued to teach virtual online live lessons.

Michelle added: “Throughout the pandemic, NCFE has provided us with clear information about any adaptions to qualifications in a timely manner and have kept us up to date through their website and emails. NCFE adapted the way they carried out external quality assurance at the end of the last academic year to ensure we were able to claim certificates when learners had completed and they gave detailed guidance on how to carry out CAG grades.”

Making the most of distance learning

Nichola, a learner from Aspire Sussex – a community-based Adult Education provider – is about to embark on her second distance learning course. Despite disruptions to learning over the past year, Nichola was determined not to let that affect her future.

After being furloughed by her employer at the start of the Covid pandemic, rather than seeing this as a barrier, the mother of two instead looked on the bright side and used it as an opportunity to develop herself.

Nichola explained: “When I was furloughed, I saw it as an opportunity to make time to develop my skills and learn something new. As a mother of two primary school-age children, I have experienced first-hand the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of my children and their peers. As a result, I wanted to do increase my awareness and understanding around this topic and put myself in a better position to support them.

“I have since secured a new job at one of the leading sixth form colleges in the county, where the knowledge I have gained from both of my courses with will be invaluable. I am so glad that I decided to study again as it has given me insight into a new profession and helped to guide me on a new career path. I would heartily recommend these qualifications.”

Read more