DfE: Colleges should decide whether to run BTEC exams

Government tells college leaders that they can decide whether or not to continue with January exams
5th January 2021, 6:05pm
Kate Parker

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DfE: Colleges should decide whether to run BTEC exams

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/dfe-colleges-should-decide-whether-run-btec-exams
Coronavirus: The Dfe Has Told Colleges To Decide Whether To Run Btec Exams This Month

The Department for Education has told college leaders that exams can continue to take place "where they judge it right to do so".

Yesterday, the DfE said the January exam series should go ahead, despite the country entering a national lockdown. This evening, a spokesperson for the department said that "in light of the evolving public health measures, schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams that are due to take place in January, where they judge it right to do so".

They added: "We understand this is a difficult time but we want to support schools and colleges whose students have worked hard to prepare for assessments and exams where necessary. This may be particularly important for VTQs [vocational and technical qualifications] which require a 'license to practice', which can only be fulfilled through practical assessment, such as an electrician.


Student voice'It's not safe for us to take these exams'

BTECs: Dismay at DfE decision on January exams 

Lockdown: Association of Colleges urges the DfE to cancel BTEC exams


"Schools and colleges have already implemented extensive protective measures to make them as safe as possible. We will continue to work with Ofqual, awarding organisations and other stakeholders to discuss the next steps and provide more detail on the way forward, including ensuring other students have a way to progress with as little disruption as possible."

Pressure had been building on the DfE to cancel the vocational exams, with metro mayors, former ministers, unions, sector leaders and students all calling for action in the interest of student and staff safety.

Coronavirus: College leaders 'needed decisive action on BTECs'

Earlier today, several colleges - including Loughborough College, Leeds City College and The Sheffield College - took matters into their own hands and either postponed or cancelled the exams. 

Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes said: "This response from the government will disappoint the thousands of students as well as staff in colleges across the country who have shown how worried they are about sitting exams this month. The risk is that this continues the confusion, leads to more uncertainty for every student and puts thousands of young people and their families at risk, as well as the college staff managing the exams. It has no message for students in colleges which do cancel for safety reasons and does not reflect the issue of fairness between vocational and technical students with their peers taking A levels and GCSEs. 

"Every college leader has been spending all day trying to weigh up the pros and cons of cancelling or going ahead. They were hoping that the government would be decisive, but that has not happened, and students will have to look locally for the leadership and certainty they seek. A national decision would have allowed for more fairness for all students across vocational and general qualifications - this compromise does not achieve that and I suspect that will cause more problems over the coming months. We are likely to see many colleges cancelling and some going ahead."

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