Students to sit English and maths exams at home during Covid-19 lockdown

Thousands of students will be able to sit their functional skills exams from home from next week, the first ever time under “game changing” plans unveiled by City & Guilds.

The awarding giant will move from assessments at centres to remote invigilation by using online meeting software such as GoToMeeting, Zoom and Microsoft Teams during the Covid-19 crisis.

Newly reformed functional skills qualifications in English and maths were rolled out in September 2019 and include strict invigilation criteria.

Exams regulator Ofqual has however given the move from City & Guilds the green light, explaining that their rules do not rule out remote or even home invigilation.

But they said they do require awarding organisations to satisfy themselves that the assessment arrangements used for a qualification are appropriate.

David Phillips, managing director at City & Guild, told FE Week: “This Covid-19 crisis has helped us think very differently about learner progression and how to get them through assessments.

“The move to remote invigilation, where learners can securely sit the test from home will be a game changer for colleges and training providers.

“We have had very good and open dialogue with Ofqual and are really pleased to be able to do this from next week.”

Last month the government announced the cancellation of the summer exams series for A-levels and GCSEs. Students will instead be graded via teacher evidence of each student’s performance throughout their studies, including mock tests.

Unlike GCSE and A-levels that are typically tested in the summer, functional skills qualifications are on-demand tests, with most exam boards running a session each month.

A City & Guilds spokesperson said the organisation will be able to “deliver remote testing of our E-volve tests on-demand at our learner’s homes.

“This will continue the delivery of a number of our assessments including functional skills during the Covid-19 closures.

“Centres will be able to remotely deliver and invigilate the online tests to learners and apprentices in their own home environment.”

They added that detailed guidelines and instructions will be available to centres in the week commencing 6 April.