Covid Updates

Last update: 26th March 2021

 

On Wednesday 24 March Ofqual published the new Vocational and Technical Qualifications contingency framework (VCRF), which sets out the new assessment arrangements for this year.

The full announcement and Vocational and Technical Qualifications contingency framework document can be accessed here:

 

Vocational_Contingency_Regulatory_Framework_-_Guidance

Vocational_Contingency_Regulatory_Framework_-_Conditions_and_requirements

 

Ofqual have also published their updated Explainer tool, which shows how qualifications will be assessed and awarded in the period up to 31 August 2021. This can be accessed HERE.

The approach for Vocational Qualifications – assess as normal or via adaptations

The key message from Government and Ofqual is that assessments for vocational qualifications should continue to be taken as normal or via agreed adaptations.

 

The approach for Vocational Qualifications differs to other areas – for example Technical Qualifications, where Teacher Assessed Grades (TAG) are mandated.

 

Our guidance for vocational qualifications will follow the direction from Government and Ofqual, where we will be encouraging the use of adaptations or remote assessment.

 

Further information and guidance is outlined below for specific GA qualification types.

 

Please note, all adaptations are subject to eligibility and approval and centres must contact GA directly to make suitable arrangements in advance of any adapted or alternative assessment delivery taking place.

We are working closely with DfE and the qualifications Regulator Ofqual to ensure no learners are disadvantaged.

 

Further Information for Centres

 

Information for Centres

 

Following on from the correspondence we sent out in January and the impact that the latest Covid-19 lockdown is having on all our Centres, we are aware that a few centres hope to continue delivery of assessments in the coming months. The information below is to provide you with further details.

 

Classic IESOL Examinations

 

Classic IESOL examinations will be available as paper-based AND online, with remote invigilation.

 

Centres may continue to deliver paper-based examinations in centre where a candidate requires the qualification for employment or progression purposes, e.g. to acquire or renew a licence to practice, meet any other condition of employment, or to secure a place on a programme of Higher Education. See below for further instructions on how to deliver these examinations safely.

 

NEW! Centres may now choose to continue to deliver Classic IESOL examinations using GA’s Secure Exam Browser, for any candidate. Centres are required to apply for Online Classic Examination Delivery. Further information about how to apply will be issued to centres directly by email.

 

ESOL Skills for Life Examinations

 

ESOL Skills for Life examinations are only available as paper-based and should only be delivered in centres where the candidate requires the qualification for employment or progression purposes, as outlined above.

 

ESOL Skills for Life examinations are NOT available online and therefore and centre based ESOL SFL examinations must follow the safety instructions below. Where COVID secure arrangements cannot be put in place, centres must delay examinations until such time that the centre can resume business safely.

 

Online Assessment for Vocationally-Related Qualifications

 

Where the assessment of GA VRQs is already delivered online and this is the usual delivery model, centres can continue to deliver assessments as there is no additional risk to do so. These include Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualifications, Community Interpreting qualifications and Food Safety qualifications.

 

Delivery of other GA Qualifications

 

Other qualifications which usual involve candidates attending on-site for assessments should be delayed until such time that the centre can resume business safely. Please note that GA does NOT intend to use calculated results, Teacher-Assessed Grades or any other form of alternative arrangements for these qualifications.

 

If a centre identifies a candidate with a specific need to be assessed and assessment CANNOT be delayed, please contact GA directly. The situation will be considered on a case by case basis.

 

Please note, the categorisation of specific qualification types restricts alternative arrangements for any licence to practice qualifications.

 

Instructions for Classroom Based Examinations

 

Where the centre is delivering paper-based examinations, the centre MUST ONLY open to staff and candidates where they are assured that it is safe to do so.

GA encourages centres to put in place the following, wherever possible:

  • A signing in and out system for all staff and visitors
  • A one-way system around the site, with separate entrance and exit if possible
  • PPE, masks and clear visors for all staff, in particular interlocutors and invigilators
  • Spaced out desks of no less than 2 metres apart and one learner per desk
  • Sanitised desks, cleaned between examination sessions
  • 2 metre social distancing
  • Face coverings which are only opened/removed when in a discussion or other necessary activity (please note, we do not consider it mandatory for ESOL candidates to wear masks in Speaking examinations, due to the potential disadvantage this may lead to, especially with lower level candidates. We strongly encourage the use of clear visors)
  • Visors sanitised between uses
  • Candidates to all face the same direction in the room
  • Staff to stay at the front of the room as much as possible
  • Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser in the classroom, used at start and end of the session
  • No mingling outside, in reception or other waiting areas, in corridors or other shared spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms
  • Minimal contact between candidates at all times
  • Disposable gloves used to handle paper and other equipment
  • Well ventilated rooms, with the windows open where possible

GA also encourages centres to put in place pre-attendance checks on all staff and candidates and ensure they do NOT attend the centre in-person if their answer to any of the following questions is YES:

  • Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
  • Are you self-isolating or have you been instructed to self-isolate?
  • Do you have a new temperature or persistent cough, or a loss of taste or smell?
  • Are you in a vulnerable or shielded group?

Security Reminder

Social distancing measures will mean smaller assessment groups for most of our Centres. This may result in a larger number of separate assessment sessions over a period of time. The risk of candidates being able to share the content of an assessment with other candidates who are still due to sit the assessment is therefore increased. Please continue to ensure that the security of assessment materials remains a priority.

 

Further Information

If you are concerned about yourself or your family’s health, please refer to the NHS 111 website or telephone NHS 111 or your GP.

Further information, advice and guidance is also available at:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

GA is here to support all our centres throughout this ongoing pandemic. If you would like any further help or information to enable your centre to deliver assessments, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

IMPORTANT:

  • If your centre is affected by COVID-19 restrictions or lockdowns, please ensure GA is kept updated.
  • GA will continue to print and dispatch hard copy certificates as usual wherever restrictions allow, although please be aware that delays in receiving certificates may occur due to circumstances beyond our control, such as courier or postal service delays as a result of the pandemic.

Customer Support

GA staff continue to work remotely wherever possible. If you have a non-urgent query, please contact us via email at info@gatehouseawards.org or contact your dedicated Centre Administrator by email.

Centres have received a secure email containing a dedicated mobile number for making any urgent enquiries that require a phone call.

Thank you for your understanding, commitment and support during these unprecedented times.