Plan for exams - February and March

On 13 January, Government confirmed that exams will not go ahead for the remainder of this academic year. Although VTQ exams due to take place in February and March will not go ahead, online, on-demand external assessments  can still take place where learners are ready and able to complete. You can find Government’s full statement and associated guidance here.

With that in mind, this web page sets out our latest advice on:

  • registering and withdrawing learners
  • V Cert and CACHE external assessment bookings 
  • CACHE specific advice – submission of independent self-study assignments and adaptations for longitudinal study qualification components
  • advice if you didn’t go ahead with January exams
  • exams cancellations in February and March
  • exams which take place in an assessment window
  • continuation of online on-demand assessments  
  • next steps and Ofqual consultation.

Registering and withdrawing learners

We would like to take the opportunity to remind you of your obligations under our centre agreement which requires every learner to be registered in line with our requirements, so that each learner can be uniquely identified. This is particularly important this year given the impact of Covid-19 on assessments and learning, and is also a mandatory requirement from Ofqual. We would ask that you register any outstanding learners who are not yet registered with us, but who you were expecting to take an assessment this year or expecting to certificate in 2020/2021, and that you withdraw any learners who have been registered but are no longer on programme / completing the qualification. Registrations and withdrawals can both be completed through the Portal in the normal way, with instructions available within the Portal handbook.

V Cert and CACHE external assessment bookings

As you know, whilst January V Cert and CACHE external assessments went ahead, those in February and March have been cancelled, and those from April until July are, pending the Ofqual consultation outcome, also likely to be cancelled.

Whilst we await further detail on our plans for alternative awarding arrangements for these external assessments, we need to understand the plans for you and your learners on all previously timetabled V Cert and CACHE external assessments between 01 February and 31 July 2021. This is really valuable in helping us to plan for the rest of the session in the most efficient and accurate way and can help us ensure all learners intending to receive an outcome from a cancelled external assessment do so. 

Therefore, your action is now required.  

We ask that centres make a booking for all V Cert or CACHE* learners onto a representative external assessment by Wednesday 31 March, to help us understand your intentions for learners for the remainder of the 2020/21 session. This applies to any learner who you would have intended to attempt an external assessment between 01 Feb and 31 July 2021. You are able to make this booking from Monday 22 February. Access information on how to make the booking, and read our helpful FAQ on this here.

CACHE specific advice  - submission of independent self-study assignments

For those assessments in February and March which are independent self-study, we know that learners may wish to undertake these because they have already begun these assessments / are prepared and ready to start / are still attending school or college.

Where this is the case, we will still accept the submission of these assessments by the dates below, and they will be marked and results issued as per the timetabled results release dates:

QAN

Qualification Name

Submission Date

Results Release

603/5355/7

NCFE CACHE Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care (Adults) (Northern Ireland)

02/02/2021

06/04/2021

600/7093/6

NCFE CACHE Level 3 Extended Diploma for Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Wales and Northern Ireland)

25/03/2021

03/06/2021

However, as above, if you decide to not go ahead with any of these exams or you feel that your learner is not suitably prepared for the assessment, please withdraw your learners from the assessment as soon as possible by contacting our Customer Support team on 0191 239 8000 or [email protected]. We will put arrangements in place to ensure these learners are not disadvantaged.

CACHE specific advice - adaptations for longitudinal study qualification components

We have released specific guidance around additional adaptations to the longitudinal component of the following qualifications:

Please take a look at the individual qualification pages on QualHub for the most up to date guidance.


Advice if you didn’t go ahead with January exams

Consistent with Government’s advice, set-date, set-time exams scheduled to take place in January still went ahead for those centres who wished to continue.

If you decided not to go ahead with these exams, please be assured that:

  • we will award a grade for any learner who was unable to take their exams and has enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression (not applicable for Functional Skills – see below section for more details)
  • learners that were unable to take their assessment this January will not be disadvantaged and we will put appropriate arrangements in place.

Exams which take place in an assessment window

Where exams take place in an assessment window which opened in January but continues into February and/or March, these will not be cancelled for those centres who wish to continue.

If you decide not to go ahead with these exams, please withdraw your learners as soon as possible by contacting our Customer Support team. If you do receive exam papers for an external assessment which you later decide not to go ahead with, please ensure these are safely stored within your secure storage facility and not opened by anyone. We will be in touch with further instructions in this case. There are further assessment windows throughout the year which can be found in our external assessment timetable.

Where possible, we will also add additional assessment windows later in the academic year, and will be working closely with Ofqual on the possible alternative assessments that could be considered.

Cancellation of February and March exams

A number of NCFE external assessments (in our V Cert, CACHE and paper based Functional Skills qualification suites) timetabled for February and March 2021 will now be cancelled. Check our external assessment timetable for the latest information. For those exams which have been cancelled in February and March, no further bookings need to be made, and centres do not need to withdraw learners.

Continuation of online on-demand assessments

Where assessments for qualifications can take place online and learners are ready to take them in the coming weeks, assessments should continue as planned. For NCFE, this includes Functional Skills Qualifications, Dental and the following CACHE qualifications:

  • Understand How to Set Up a Home-Based Childcare Service (CYPOP 5) 
  • the online, on-demand external assessment within the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practice of Dental Nursing (601/2251/1). 

For learners who are unable to access assessment in this way, alternative assessment arrangements will be put in place following the outcomes of the consultation.

If you decide not to go ahead with any of these exams, please withdraw your learners as soon as possible by contacting our Customer Support team on 0191 239 8000 or [email protected]. If you do receive exam papers for an external assessment which you later decide not to go ahead with, please ensure these are safely stored within your secure storage facility and not opened by anyone. We will be in touch with further instructions in this case.

We want to again reassure you and your learners that we will put arrangements in place for learners who are now unable to take their external assessments, to ensure they are not disadvantaged. Ofqual’s consultation on arrangements for issuing grades this year for regulated VTQs closed on Friday 29 January. The responses to this survey are currently being analysed by Ofqual and the Department for Education and the outcomes will be published at the end of February. Read more. You can access further guidance from Government here.

If you have any questions about exams or any of the below information, please contact our Customer Support team on 0191 239 8000 or [email protected].

Specific information

Functional Skills - here
V Certs and schools - here
CACHE - here