Teachers to estimate functional skills results this summer

Results for this summer’s cancelled functional skills exams will be based on teacher calculated grades, Ofqual is set to announce.

They will follow the same format being adopted for grading GCSE and A-level students who can’t sit their tests due to the coronavirus crisis.

Ofqual revealed the move in a briefing to the FE sector this morning, where they said the majority, but not all, vocational and technical qualifications will be graded in the same way (click here for full story).

It said: “Calculated results to be used for qualifications akin to general quallifications, including functional skills.”

But the decision will not be welcomed by the Federation of Awarding Bodies.

Their chief executive, Tom Bewick, previously said: “To be absolutely clear, the Federation of Awarding Bodies does not support an ‘estimation’ approach towards functional skills.

“These important qualifications are not the same as GCSEs and A-levels they are about functionality and competence; and we do need to ensure that even these very challenging times – while we do need to be creative, innovative and pragmatic, we don’t junk quality in the process.”

He added: “So it’s a bit like a driving test – we wouldn’t say to driving instructors ‘you just get on and assess whether or not somebody is safe to drive on the roads’. That external assessment and examination is still possible and indeed there are lots of innovative practices already out there – like online secure proctoring.”

Ofqual’s announcement comes despite one awarding giant, City & Guilds, launching plans to allow thousands of students to sit their functional skills exams from home this summer.

They said last week they plan to use remote invigilation by using online meeting software such as GoToMeeting, Zoom and Microsoft Teams this summer.

FE Week has asked Ofqual if all awarding bodies will now need to grade all functional skills students affected by Covid-19 via teacher estimations.

When calculating functional skills grades, teachers must “draw appropriately” on a “range of other evidence” held by the school and the awarding organisation offering the qualification, this morning’s briefing said.

Evidence which “might be useful” in the estimations includes “actual achievement data for candidates – exams or internal assessments which have (or haven’t been through moderation, centre risk profiles” and “historic data on centre outcomes”.

Ofqual’s guidance for grading VTQs can be found here.

And their press release can be found here.

The education secretary’s ministerial direction to Ofqual can be found here.