How your Btec and other vocational and technical qualification grades will be decided in 2021

empty exam hall

Many qualifications will be graded by your teachers, similarly to how the GCSE and A-level results are being decided

With the pandemic causing disruption to education this year, the government has had to make alternative plans for students to complete their courses. GCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled but what about Btecs and vocational qualifications?

Plans for vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) are changing for some, but not for others.

Which qualifications will be getting teacher-assessed grades, which will involve taking adapted assessments and which will have to be postponed?

The DfE has divided VTQs into three groups, which are summed up in this infographic from Ofqual. Ofqual have created an explainer tool which will help you get more specific info on your course and qualifications. You can find it here.

ofqual infographic giving an overview of VTQ groups

Group 1

These are qualifications that are most similar to GCSEs and A-levels, that are used for progression to higher education. Based on the government guidance, these include:

  • many (but not all) Btecs
  • Cambridge Nationals and Technicals
  • many Technical Awards and Technical Certificates 
  • the International Baccalaureate
  • Pre-U 
  • Core Maths
  • Extended Project Qualification
  • Advanced Extension Awards

Exams will not be taking place for this group. As with A-levels and GCSes, students will receive grades assessed by their teachers based on evidence from their work across the course. 

Results will be given during the week of 9 August in line with GCSE and A-level results.

Group 2

These are qualifications that are used to enter directly into employment, such as NVQs. 

From the guidance:

“Exams or assessments should continue where they are critical to demonstrate occupational or professional competence and can be delivered in line with PHE measures. 

“Where the assessment cannot take place safely, it will need to be delayed. 

“These may be written or practical exams and assessments”

Your assessments may take place in a different way than normal, using social distancing or remote assessment.

Group 3

These are smaller qualifications that are unlike GCSEs and A-levels in their course structure.

This includes:

  • Functional Skills
  • ESOL Skills for Life

Exams and assessments for these courses will continue so long as they can be carried out in safe conditions or remotely. 

Teacher assessed grades will only be used if you cannot access an in-person or remote assessment.

empty desk and chair in classroom

How will teacher-assessed grades work?

For group 1 qualifications it is expected that these will work in a similar way to what’s happening with GCSEs and A-levels

Teachers will calculate your grade based on classwork and assessments that have already been completed. 

The organisation that awards your qualification will provide guidance for your school or college on what evidence teachers will need to consider to determine your grade.

How will adapted assessments work?

From the guidance

“Where exams and assessments continue, we will permit awarding organisations to continue to make adaptations to assist in mitigating the impact of the pandemic.” 

Assessments may be adapted to enable social distancing or be carried out remotely.

Assessments will be delayed if they can’t be carried out safely.

When will I get my results?

If you’re studying a qualification that’s in group 1 you’ll receive your results during the week of 9 August.

Group 2 and 3 qualifications will all have their own timelines. Your course providers will be best placed to let you know if your schedule will change due to the pandemic if it hasn’t already.

What if I think my teacher-assessed grade is wrong?

VTQ students have a right to appeal their grades just like GCSE and A-level students. Individual awarding organisations will set out their own appeals processes for schools, colleges and training providers to follow.

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