Ofqual launches BTECs delay review – but Pearson tight-lipped on number in limbo

Labour and sector leaders demand answers over four-day wait

Labour and sector leaders demand answers over four-day wait


Exams watchdog Ofqual has pledged a review to ensure BTECs are not delayed again – but Pearson is still refusing to say how many students have been left in limbo. 

Ofqual said this evening that it is currently making sure exam boards get results out to students but added it is “clearly important that we review what has happened to make sure students in future years receive results when they expect them”. 

It comes as Labour and sector leaders demand answers from government and exam boards on how long they have known there would be a problem and how many students are impacted.

Currently, some BTEC and Cambridge Technical students are still awaiting their grades – four days since results day. 

Pearson – which issues BTECs – is refusing to say how many students have been impacted in total, aside from an update this evening saying since Thursday it has sent out another 1,950 results to UCAS.

The board said a “tiny” percentage of the more than 200,000 students due to receive their grades were still waiting for their results. Pearson claimed that less than 1 per cent are still waiting for their grades as of this evening, but it’s not clear how many that is. It is also not clear if the issue will happen again this Thursday, when level 2 BTECs are released. Pearson also claimed its not a “systemic issue” with delays “unique” to each school or college.

A spokesperson said: “We will continue to issue results during the days ahead as new information becomes available to us. We are also working closely with UCAS and higher education institutions to keep them updated.”

OCR – which issues Cambridge Technicals – has also refused to say how many students are still waiting on results.

An update this evening only said over 30,000 have been issued before or on results day, with 2,000 more since. Of those 2,000 – more than 800 were sent to UCAS to support university applications.

A spokesperson said: “This remains our top priority and we are working to resolve it as a matter of urgency.”

Toby Perkins, Labour’s shadow minister for skills, said government “need to come clean about the numbers of students affected and make a public statement, instead of hiding in their offices”.

“The education secretary should be ensuring that the exam boards involved in this incident set out the steps they are taking to rectify it. It is vital that the government ensures that no BTEC student will lose out on their chance of higher education.”

More than 100 college leaders met with Ofqual chief regulator Jo Saxton in an online call on Monday to share their concerns.

David Hughes, chief executive at the Association of College, said thousands of students were still in limbo, adding: “ It is simply unfair that they must wait longer and for many they cannot progress onto their next course or job.”

He added: “We have a lot of questions about what went wrong and the timing and sequence of events. We need to know at what point the awarding organisations became aware of problems and why they did not act more swiftly. We need to understand why they have not yet released any statement on the numbers of students without results and why they have failed to put up any spokesperson for the media.

“Students deserve better than distant and incomplete statements from the awarding organisations who should show more care for the ultimate customers of their qualifications.”

An Ofqual spokesperson said it has asked boards to give “regular updates so that the public can be confident that awarding organisations are swiftly issuing valid results”. 

“We will continue to work across the sector, in addition to using our regulatory relationship with awarding organisations, to this end.”

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