Ofqual: January exams to go ahead as planned

Ofqual chief Dame Glenys Stacey says exams in January will go ahead - but the situation is being monitored
17th December 2020, 12:23pm
Kate Parker

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Ofqual: January exams to go ahead as planned

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/secondary/ofqual-january-exams-go-ahead-planned
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January exams in colleges are expected to go ahead, the acting chief regulator of Ofqual has said.

In a letter to the Association of Colleges, the Sixth Form Colleges Association, HOLEX, AELP, the Exams Office and the Association of School and College Leaders, Dame Glenys Stacey says she is aware that centres have concerns about the challenges of running exams that are compliant with public health demands in January.

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She adds that Ofqual will continue to work with awarding organisations running the January series, monitor the situation and consider whether further contingencies (for example, additional assessment windows) may be necessary.


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She points institutions towards the government's guidance on exams, and the Joint Council for Qualifications' Instructions for Conducting Examinations - stressing that Ofqual understands the challenge of sourcing invigilators. 

"Awarding organisations are permitted, under our extended ERF [extraordinary regulatory framework], to relax invigilation requirements if other risk mitigations can be put in place. This might include flexibility on who is permitted to invigilate," she says. 

"If centres are struggling to facilitate invigilation in the normal way and cannot source alternatives, then I would urge them to get in touch with the relevant awarding organisation(s) as a matter of urgency." 

Summer exams 

Dame Glenys also highlights the summer exams, saying that "awarding organisations must ensure that VTQ [vocational and technical qualifications] learners are not disadvantaged or advantaged compared with their peers taking GCSE, AS and A levels".

She says that approaches to adaptations will vary, given the range of qualification structures, assessment methodologies and the different contexts for learners - but that some awarding organisations have moved the timetable for summer external assessments while others are drawing on online assessment. 

She adds that ministers have agreed to allow assessment of some units to be reduced in qualifications to free up time for teaching and learning. "We are encouraging awarding organisations to go further - to make full use of the regulatory flexibility available to them in considering further adaptions that strike the right balance between flexibility and validity," she says.

Work experience 

On work experience, Dame Glenys says that "organising work experience placements continues to present challenges for many centres", and that Ofqual is sharing good practice with awarding organisations on how placements can happen flexibly. 

"There are flexibilities with our framework around reducing work experience requirements, but in some cases (including some Performance Table qualifications), access to the workplace is essential to enable learners to demonstrate occupational skills," she says.

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