Exam boards seeking more than £16 million from DfE for Covid flexibility costs

A “formal” request for more than £16 million to be “reimbursed”  has been submitted by awarding organisations (AOs) to the Department for Education to pay for extra resources needed to implement an alternative to summer exams, FE Week can reveal.

The Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), which represents over 100 AOs, has written to the DfE director of professional and technical education with estimates of the “additional costs associated with implementing two of the Secretary of State’s directions to Ofqual, issued on 31 March (general qualifications) and 9 April (vocational technical qualifications) respectively”.

The letter ,seen by FE Week, is from the FAB chief executive Tom Bewick (pictured above) and argues an “additional resource requirement of £16.3 million averaged across the regulated community is a realistic estimate of what awarding organisations have spent to adapt their qualifications to the demands of the extraordinary regulatory regime (ERF)”.

Ofqual, which regulates AOs, is due to publish the final details of their ERF at 1pm today, which will include final details on how some qualification grades will be estimated.

In the letter, Bewick says the FAB “is formally requesting that the Secretary of State make a grant fund available to the regulated AOs affected by his two directions; and to disperse these funds on an evidenced claimed basis from the Department”.

An accompanying document describes and calculates additional costs for up to 162 active AOs, and says one, that is unnamed, has “reported a £3 million loss in income and £500,000 of additional expenditure as a result of the coronavirus crisis”.

Costs incurred are said by Bewick to be significant “in terms of staff time and technological adaptations”, and will need to include “procurement of external resource”.

The £16.3 million estimate is made up of £1.1 million for up to 57 small AOs, £9.1 million for up to 89 medium sized AOs and £6.1 million for up to 16 larger awarding organisations.

Bewick adds that “FAB understands that the additional spend illustrated in this proposal is significant and that the Department may wish to consider carefully which additional costs are reimbursable”.

The DfE has been approached for comment.