Colleges should “deploy flexibility” in their admissions decisions as learners on vocational qualifications continue to wait for their final grades, apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan has said.
In a letter to colleges, the minister said cancelling exams and assessments had not been something the government had wanted to do, “because no replacement was ever going to do exactly what exams and assessments do best and most fairly”.
She continued: “I am aware all of us have been working at pace to ensure students receive robust and fair results in order for them to progress onto the next stage of their lives.”
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Keegan added that ensuring no student was disadvantaged had always been her priority in this process. Referring to the decision by awarding organisation to review results for vocational and technical qualifications in light of the government’s U-turn on A-level and GCSE grades, she said AOs had wanted to ensure students were treated fairly. On Wednesday, Pearson announced it would review all BTEC grades and asked colleges and schools not to issue level 1 and 2 results while that process was ongoing.
“This means that a number of students who had taken vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) will not receive their level 2-and-below results this week, and that some level 3 students are still waiting for results or will have their results reissued,” said Ms Keegan.
“The relevant awarding organisations have assured us that students will receive their results as soon as possible. This is of course deeply worrying for the students affected and they will be upset and frustrated by the delay. Similarly, I recognise that you have been working to prepare to issue VTQ results this week and will now have to support students as they wait. I am deeply sorry about this.
“My department has been clear with the exam boards and awarding organisations that are due to issue these results that they must do so as soon as possible, and that they must make their plans clear for students and providers, so that you all know when you can expect these results and that these timelines will be held to.”
Ms Keegan said: “I ask that you deploy flexibility in your admissions decisions this year, to assist young people in moving on to their next steps into further education. Where you are aware that a student’s grade may change as the result of this situation or they do not yet have it, I would encourage you, where possible, to hold their place until they have received their final result. Let me thank you in advance for the care and concern that I know that you will show to this group of students. As a group and individually, they are deserving of our collective support.”