Natecla: Esol students should be assessed by teachers

Students should be allowed to focus on the English they need most at this time, rather than preparing for an exam, says Esol teachers' association

Julia Belgutay

ESOL learners should all be assessed by their teachers this year, NATECLA has said

All Esol students should be assessed by their teachers this year instead of having to do an online exam, a teachers' body has said.

In a statement published today, the National Association for Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults (Natecla) called for Esol exams to be replaced by teacher assessment in the same way they have been for functional skills qualifications, following the coronavirus outbreak.

Ofqual announced last week that functional skills qualifications should be assessed in this way, and Natecla said while this brought “good news” for teachers who have Esol learners undertaking these qualifications, the announcement contained no mention of Esol qualifications, which cover most learning programmes for Natecla members and their students.

Background: Functional skills grades to be 'calculated'

More: Grades plan imperfect but fair say leaders

Need to know: 'Disadvantaged students will lose out with assessment'

Online assessment

Natecla has urged Ofqual and the Department for Education to allow all Esol learners to be assessed by their teachers instead of having to adapt quickly to online assessment. This, Natecla said, would disadvantage those with no access to computers or the internet, and those with poor reading and technology skills. 

Learners should also be allowed to continue learning during the summer term without needing to prepare for examinations, but focusing on the English they most need at this difficult time. They could then return to their qualification programmes once face-to-face learning resumes.

In a statement to Ofqual, Natecla said: “Most Esol learners are dependent on the results of their Esol qualifications for progression on to higher levels, other programmes of study and employment, which suggests that they should be treated like other ‘progression focused’ qualifications.”

An Ofqual spokesperson said: "We welcome the representation received from NATECLA this week regarding possible assessment arrangements for ESOL Skills for Life qualifications this year. We understand the importance of ESOL to both learners and other users of these qualifications.

 "We are working urgently with awarding organisations and government to finalise the lists of qualifications in scope for the award of calculated results as well as those where adaptation of assessments or rescheduling of assessments might be required. We will shortly set out further details of the approach for each category, and outline those areas where we will need to consult.

"Our overriding priority for all qualifications is to develop a process which is applied fairly and consistently, so that wherever possible learners are able to progress to the next stages of their lives and standards are maintained so that all those who use qualifications can continue to have confidence in their value."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are working at pace with Ofqual as they engage with key stakeholders, including awarding organisations and provider representative bodies, to ensure students can successfully complete their qualifications this summer."

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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