Three country approach to awarding vocational qualifications this summer confirmed

Thursday 25 Feb 2021

The approach to awarding vocational qualifications this summer has been confirmed. Most vocational qualifications available in Wales are also available in England and Northern Ireland. Qualifications Wales works with fellow regulators– Ofqual in England and CCEA in Northern Ireland - to ensure a common experience for learners in Wales. 

Today’s announcement by Ofqual follows their recent consultation. It provides clarity on what the approach to assessing and awarding the different types of vocational qualifications will be in Wales, England and Northern Ireland. 

Further information on specific qualifications is available from the relevant awarding bodies on the detailed arrangements for each of their qualifications. Teachers should refer to their awarding body’s website for the latest updates. 

Overview of approaches for different qualification types 

Qualifications with similar characteristics to GCSE and A level  

Qualifications similar to A levels or GCSEs, such as BTECs, WJEC Vocational Awards and Applied Certificates and Diplomas or the new Health and Social Care: Principles & Contexts qualifications, will be awarded using a centre determined grade. 

This could include assessments completed during the course, including coursework or other assessment evidence. Results should be announced no later than learners who are studying GCSEs and A levels.   

Qualifications used for progression but that do not share similar characteristics to GCSE or A levels  

Some qualifications support progression to further study or employment but are not similar to GCSEs or A levels, for example Essential Skills Wales or ESOL. Exams and assessments for these qualifications can continue where it is safe to do so, remotely or in person. 

Adaptations that have been put in place will still be available. If learners are unable to take the assessment when they need to, then alternative arrangements will be available to give them every chance to progress. 

Qualifications that assess practical skills or occupational competence  

Qualifications that are used to demonstrate practical skills, such as plumbing, construction, performing arts or hairdressing, will still need to be assessed before they can be awarded. 

Assessments for these qualifications should continue as normal where possible, although they may be held in a different way. In some cases, assessments may need to be delayed until they can be carried out safely in line with public health guidance. 

Awarding bodies will be providing more information about their specific requirements for these qualifications over the next few weeks.