Education Secretary hopeful BTEC results will be included in grading U-turn

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said that he is hoping BTEC and similar vocational grades will be included in Ofqual’s new grading policy.

Earlier today exams regulator Ofqual confirmed that both A-level and GCSEs students will now be given their teacher grades in what is a major U-turn for the government. This didn’t include BTEC results.

However, during a briefing with journalists this evening Mr Williamson said that he was working with Pearson, the custodians of BTEC qualifications, to look at what is possible.

The education secretary told reporters: “We’re very much hoping that this will be actually encompassing BTECs. We’re just working with the awarding authorities to make sure that that’s the case, and I think there’s got to be absolute parity and fairness right across the spectrum.”

Williamson said the Department for Education is working with BTEC awarding body Pearson, but said “there’s quite a bit of difference because there’s very little disparity in terms of the assessment of grades for those who took BTECs and other vocational technical qualifications.

“And so there’s been a little bit of disparity but we want to see parity right across the board in terms of how this is approached, and that’s what we’re working with Pearson on in order to ensure that that’s the case.”

Questioned on whether the awarding bodies will have enough time to turn that around with GCSE results due this week, Williamson thanked the awarding bodies for putting in “so much work” and said the DfE will continue to support them with the awarding of grades, and by working with them, they will be able to deliver.

A Pearson spokesperson said BTECs are “structured very differently to A levels, and so the approach to awarding is also different”, and BTECs were not subject to the same statistical moderation process as A levels.

Instead, BTECs comprise modular units assessed at regular stages during their course of study, so students had already banked graded units for their qualification before March.

“As we do every year, this year we asked centres to submit all the grades for the internal assessment units that had been completed as well as any grades for units still to be completed. These were accepted with very little change following quality assurance checks. They then formed part of the evidence, alongside previously completed assessment unit grades, to award grades for the externally assessed units and the final overall qualification grade. 

“For the very small number of grades that were adjusted, we will be reviewing them on a case by case basis with centres following the same principles as those announced today.

“It has been an incredibly difficult time for students, teachers and colleges. Our priority this summer has always been to ensure students are able to progress to the next stage in their lives – whether education or employment.”

Ofqual has said this evening the framework used to decide the results of vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) like BTECs this summer was different to that used for A-levels.

But: “For the small number of qualifications that have used a statistical standardisation approach similar to the Ofqual model for A-levels and GCSEs, we have asked awarding organisations to review their approach.

“This is likely to mean a small proportion of VTQ results will be reissued.”

Pearson has been approached for comment.

Awaiting your BTEC and/or vocational results?

If you are an individual or institution still waiting for your BTEC or any other vocational results, that you expected to receive on Thursday 13 August, contact FE Week. We’re keen to hear from individuals and institutions about your situation and the impact it has had. Email: news@feweek.co.uk