Ofqual confirms vocational and technical qualification exam arrangements for 2021/22


Ofqual has confirmed teacher-assessed grades are to end and exams will return next year for vocational and technical qualifications.

But awarding bodies will be allowed to adapt assessments in 2021/22 for qualifications like functional skills and T Levels, in light of how Covid-19 has affected students’ learning, the regulator has said.

What adaptations could be used will be left mostly up to individual awarding bodies, as: “The variety in assessment structures and delivery across the VTQ landscape mean that a one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable for these qualifications.” 

A consultation began in July on proposals by Ofqual and the Department for Education for how 2021/22 exams should go ahead.

The announcements for how exams will run next year have been published alongside the decisions document from the consultation, which confirms teacher-assessed grades will end, with all qualifications being awarded based on evidence from exams and other assessments from 1 September.

Adaptations will be allowed for assessments and qualifications to free up time for teaching and learning and “to build in resilience in case of any further disruption”.

Formulae sheets will not be permitted for functional skills assessments from next year, as had been proposed, but awarding bodies may be allowed to push back the assessments for occupational specialisms further in the academic year to give learners more time to develop required skills for example.

The document says only changes to delivery, such as timing, will be allowed for occupational specialism assessments, and no change will be allowed to be made to content in order “streamline the skills which are taught or assessed”.

Any adaptations to assessments will need to be agreed with Ofqual and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, the decisions document reads.

Students who are “mid-flight” and not receiving qualification certificates this year will be able to carry forward centre- or teacher-assessed grades from 2020/21  and will not be required to sit that assessment in 2021/22 or any subsequent year, unless they wish to improve their grade.

Today’s announcement comes ahead of next week, when the results for BTECs, GCSEs and A-levels will be revealed to students after their grades were decided by teachers once exam were cancelled for a second year in a row.

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