Ofqual extends term-time checkpoints to hundreds of thousands more VTQ students

Extra workload anticipated for schools and colleges to ensure grades are handed out on time

Extra workload anticipated for schools and colleges to ensure grades are handed out on time

Ofqual’s new term-time checkpoints that aim to ensure vocational and technical qualification (VTQ) students get their results on time have been extended to level 1/2 and level 2 courses.

The expansion beyond level 3 VTQs forms part of the regulator’s efforts to avoid a repeat of the 2022 BTECs fiasco that led to tens of thousands of delayed results.

In March, Ofqual introduced strict deadlines for awarding bodies to agree with schools and colleges which students should expect to receive their level 3 VTQ grades on results day.

The regulator also introduced a term-time checkpoint for schools and colleges to check any missing information is addressed as quickly as possible before results day.

In a letter from Ofqual’s outgoing chief regulator Jo Saxton, schools and colleges were today told that the term-time checkpoint, which should be completed before the May exam season, will now apply to level 1/2 and level 2 VTQs for 2024 onwards.

“The checkpoint process is designed to ensure that students who need a result on results days get one,” Saxton said.

“Schools and colleges recognised that it would be helpful to extend this arrangement to level 1/2 and level 2 qualifications, where they are taken alongside GCSEs at key stage 4, for progression,” the letter added. “Ofqual is expanding the scope of these arrangements accordingly.”

Around 370,000 level 3 VTQ results were awarded in 2022/23.

An additional 400,000 level 1/2 and level 2 VTQs are taken by students each year. Level 1/2 courses are an alternative qualification to GCSEs for learners aged 14 to 16 that includes a vocational and project-based aspect. They span both levels 1 and 2 qualifications.

Saxton said the “ability” of staff to review results and engage with awarding organisations prior to results days proved a “critical aspect of the success of the summer of 2023”, and recognised this was a “demanding time for schools and colleges”.

She added: “If your school or college handles high volumes of results, I encourage you to consider which staff will need to be available.”

The letter said that individual awarding organisations will confirm when results for their qualifications will be issued to schools and colleges.

Colleges should expect Ofqual’s Information Hub to publish awarding organisations’ key dates and deadlines in the new year.

Ofqual has been told that awarding organisations’ communication with colleges “sometimes felt overwhelming and heavy-handed” last year and is therefore working to consider “the content, volume and timing” of their communication with schools and colleges.

An Ofqual spokesperson said: “Following feedback from exams officers and teaching staff, individual awarding organisations will set their own dates for term time processes that make sure those processes are completed prior to when the main exam season begins in May.  

“Awarding organisations will tell schools and colleges what their dates are. Ofqual will publish awarding organisations’ key dates and deadlines on its Information Hub in January.”

For the 2023 level 3 results arrangements, awarding bodies had to agree with schools and colleges by May 26 which students expect to receive grades on level 3 results day in the summer. They also had to check up mid-term-time on missing information needed for students’ results by June 23. The deadline for issuing VTQ results to schools and colleges was August 14 – three days before the level 3 results day.

The change came after 21,000 BTEC and Cambridge Technical (CTEC) results were issued late in 2022, leaving students stuck and in the dark.

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