Coronavirus and awarding bodies: all you need to know

From the defunding of qualifications to T levels, here is all the Covid-19 advice from the government for awarding bodies

Kate Parker

Coronavirus and awarding bodies: all you need to know

The cancellation of the summer exams, along with a number of other changes the education sector has faced since the outbreak of the coronavirus, led to the closure of colleges and schools, and has significantly affected awarding organisations.   

Here, you can find all the current advice the government has issued, along with other useful information. 

Defunding of qualifications

In July last year, the Department of Education announced that more than 160 qualifications would be defunded in a crackdown on "poor-quality" post-16 qualifications. 

On 23 March, the ESFA chief executive wrote to the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), setting out the changes to the process for defunding of qualifications with no or low enrolments. The low-enrolment process will now not run for the rest of the academic year, but will relaunch in the autumn. 

Qualifications with no or few enrolments could have funding approval withdrawn from August 2022. For qualifications that currently do not have publicly funded enrolments, funding approval will be removed from 2021, but under an expanded time frame.

Qualification costs 

On 8 April, the Association of Colleges and the FAB released a joint letter in which they said that there will be "both savings and new costs associated with the processes this year and agree that any net savings should be passed on to the providers paying for the qualifications".

The two organisations called on regulators and government to recognise that there may also be some net additional costs placed on the awarding sector as a result of implementing an emergency regulatory framework designed to help learners progress.

The letter said that in all cases, open and independent verification of these calculations would aid transparency and trust.

It also added: "There is a shared interest in ensuring that both colleges and awarding organisations remain viable. In order to protect all parties, we suggest standard payment terms be extended to 90 days but that colleges who are in a position to make payments earlier should do so. We recognise that commercial relationships and decisions sit with awarding organisations and their customers."

T levels

In a letter to the FAB, education secretary Gavin Williamson said that the DfE recognised the impact that Covid-19 would have on T-level providers and that they would work with them over the next few months to ensure they got the support they needed. 

Currently, T levels are set to be delivered as planned in September 2020.

Apprentices and end-point assessment

The government has also confirmed that end-point assessment arrangements can be modified, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible in order to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices.

Apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to Covid-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled. Apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment timeframe.

Key stage 4 performance tables

The key stage 4 performance tables qualifications approvals process has been delayed. 

The process will now apply for qualifications that will be included in the 2024 KS4 performance tables (for qualifications being taught from September 2022) rather than the 2023 KS4 performance tables. 

In the intervening period, the DfE is temporarily reinstating the performance tables moratorium for Technical Awards. The list of qualifications approved for inclusion in the 2022 KS4 performance tables will be carried forward and approved for inclusion in the 2023 KS4 performance tables.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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